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Installing high intensity light with 2,000-3,000 watts during heavy infestations can help manage the attack of rice black bugs (RBB), a Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) entomologist said.

“Our studies show that these sap-sucking pests are strongly attracted to high intensity light. So, during outbreaks like the recent infestations in Cavite, a super light set up every night can catch the most number of bugs,” Gertrudo S. Arida, also an expert in Integrated Pest Management, said.

When there are more than five RBB nymphs or adults per rice plant hills, light traps mounted on a
5-10m high bamboo pole should be installed in cemented pavements or in places where rice grains are sun dried. For light trapping to be effective, it should be done from 8 to 12 pm as RBBs are active two days before full moon and three days following the moon event.

Farmers should submerge and plow-under heavily infested areas to kill the eggs, nymphs, and adults to prevent further infestations in other areas, he advised.

Arida also encouraged farmers to continue light trapping at newly harvested areas because the insect pest move to other areas in search for food during this season. Install the light trap at night after harvest to get a maximum number of RBB adults, he said.

He also advised farmers to place collected female adults in a sack then bury as they are still reproductively active and could produce fertile eggs before they die.

When flooding is not possible after harvest, Arida recommends the herding of ducks in the rice field to feed on RBBs, reducing their population.

RBB attacks can severely reduce yield up to 80 percent and cause complete crop loss due to bug burn.

“These are some management options during outbreaks and harvest time. Farmers could also apply Metarhizium anisopliae, an RBB-attacking microbial pathogen, which are available at Regional Crop Protection Centers of the Department of Agriculture,” he added.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute