Pests attack Yongchak trees

    14-Sep-2021
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SENAPATI, Sep 13 : A large number of Yongchak trees in Willong Khunou village under Willong sub-division in Senapati district have been completely destroyed by swarms of caterpillar like pests known as 'looper'.
Speaking to Hills Hornbill Express, one of the farmers Shem from the village, which is about 58 kms from Senapati district HQ, said Yongchak plantation is one of the major sources of income for the families in the village, but the pest problem has left the villagers disappointed and helpless.
As the families used to earn in between Rs 50,000 and 2 lakh annually, the loss incurred due to the 'loopers' may go upto nearly Rs 1 crore, he added.
Another farmer, R Hingtung from the village said that the number of Yongchak trees destroyed by the pests may be around a thousand. He added that the pest does not consume any other leaves except the leaves and tender shoots of Yongchak plant. After eating the leaves and shoots, the pests make a web of sort similar to ones made by spider.
Hingtung added that this is the first time 'loopers' were sighted in the area though some other villagers have cited similar destruction last year too.
A joint team of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) Senapati and Horticulture Department visited the village on Sunday and took sample for further research. The visiting team sprayed four types of chemicals to see their effect against the pests.  Posts regarding swarms of 'looper' on Yongchak trees at the village went viral in social media during the last week following which an organisation called E-loumee visited the village on Sunday to investigate the issue and collected specimen for further study.
As per findings from previous studies, the pest that is causing havoc in the village is likely to be 'Poinciana looper', native to South East Asia, whose larvae can cause extensive defoliation and reduce flowering.