Stink bugs, which may seriously harm crops, have been showing up in worrisome numbers in Japan in recent years.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, by the end of August of this year, 35 of the nation’s 47 prefectures had warned farmers about “stink bugs.” Experts fear that the insect population may continue to increase and attribute it to global warming. The insect feeds on plant juices.
When threatened, these bugs release a foul odor that is supposed to help deter predators. They go by the name shield bugs as well.
In the Kawasaki Kanagawa Prefecture, Toru Kawana cultivates excellent Japanese pears. He bemoaned as he held up pears with irregular shapes and liquids that had been largely sucked out by these bugs. He said, “Damage this year is the worst ever.” According to him, increasing temperatures brought on by climate change led to an increasing number of pests and stink bugs.
Three different species of stink bugs have been warned against: those that feed on the nutrients of rice plants and stain them; those that puncture the skin of fruits and siphon off their juices; and those that assault soybean plants.
According to the agricultural ministry, the Kagawa prefectural government warned residents about fruit-eating bugs for the first time this year on May 24.
By the end of August, warnings had been issued by twenty-four prefectures regarding rice and fruit tree stink bugs, and both. The Yamaguchi prefectural administration has issued a warning about a potential stink bug infestation that could affect soybean plantings.
Stink bugs populations reached their highest levels in various regions of the nation in the past ten years.
From May to August, the Fukuoka Prefectural Government employed lights to entice the insects to five areas while conducting surveys of their numbers. They found 1,083 southern green stink bugs, which is nearly six times the annual normal. In August, the government issued a warning to rice growers about stink bugs.
According to Kenji Fujisaki, a former professor at Kyoto University and the former head of the Union of Japanese Societies for Insect Sciences, in Japan, there are more than 1,000 different species of stink bugs, and more than 100 of them cause crop damage.
He claimed that because of climate change and other problems, their numbers had increased recently.
Southern green stink bugs, which eat things like grains, vegetables, fruits, and other items, are native to Africa. But they have spread throughout the world in part as a result of global warming, according to Fujisaki, a scientist who has studied stink bugs for more than 50 years.
Many local governments stated that the number of stink bugs had grown as temperatures increased. According to a May-July Kyodo News investigation on the effects of climate change on crops in 47 prefectures, this has caused damage to and a decline in the quality of rice.
Although stink bugs originated in the south, according to Fujisaki, the winter months have had the most impact because more of them are surviving the colder weather. ///
In reality, as a result of the year-round warming, their activity has increased starting in the spring and they have begun to reproduce earlier than in the past.
It is “a matter of life and death” for the farmer who is experiencing a big increase in unsalable harvests, Fujisaki added.
Insects netting, pesticide spraying, and countermeasures like the use of yellow fluorescent light to ward off stink bugs should all be used in tandem, he advised.
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