First Fires, Now Silkworms – Siberia Considers Extreme Measures
BBC Monitoring International Reports, August 16, 2003
Source: NTV Mir, Moscow, in Russian 0800 gmt 16 Aug 03

(Presenter) In the wake of forest fires, the taiga faces the threat of a new seasonal attack. Whatever the flames failed to destroy is being eaten by harmful insects. Silkworms are spreading fast across southern Siberia. The usual methods of combating them aren’t helping any more. The foresters are saying that they now need flame-throwers. Anton Artemyev reports from Irkutsk Region. (Correspondent) Foresters from the area around Lake Baykal are using blowlamps to help fight the taiga pests. Because of the marked spread of the Siberian gypsy moth, which feeds on vegetation along the shores of Lake Baykal, specialists have been forced to resort to new methods in order to prevent the spread of the insects.

(Fedor Gerasimov, tree doctor, Irkutsk Region’s Shelekhovskiy District) In the environmentally clean area of Lake Baykal, where there’s a ban on applying chemicals to pests, the only effective method is to use a flame to destroy the batches of eggs.

(Correspondent) Silkworms are spreading fast across the territory of Irkutsk Region this year. The pests, which arrived here from Mongolia, have adapted superbly, and have now spread out across an area covering tens of thousands of hectares. Their larvae can be seen on fences, stones and houses.

(Vasiliy Martynenko, head of the forest protection and monitoring department) These pests are multiplying in huge quantities in built-up areas, around the towns of Slyudyanka and Baykalsk, and in shrubs and deciduous plants along roads and railways.

(Correspondent) Because of the severe drought which affected the area around Lake Baykal for two months, the silkworms’ caterpillars pupated quickly, and the moths started to spread through the taiga fast. Specialists maintain that they haven’t managed to do anything in this brief period, and now all they can do is study the growth of the insects by using (?home-made) traps. The males are lured into little cardboard houses containing an aromatic bedding, and, having entered that sort of box, the silkworm dies.

The results of the moth-hunt won’t be known until the autumn. In the meantime, specialists are destroying their spawn, and say they really need a special flame-thrower for these purposes. 


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