ANDHRA PRADESH

Teak pest strikes for second year in a row

ADILABAD, JULY 24. The mysterious reappearance of Abia pleura insect, a teak pest in the vast forest tracts in Adilabad has perturbed the Forest Department officials here. This fast spreading pest has made an appearance this month for the second year in succession, which would eventually affect teak trees in about five-lakh hectares.

The recurrence of this pest is five days old, having first been observed near Adilabad town along the National Highway 7. Within these five days it has spread up to Mahboob ghats, about 65 km from here, leaving all the teak trees leafless in the process.

The insect eats off the large green leaves of teak trees leaving behind only the veins. According to a section of experts this eating away of leaves adversely affects the tree growth. Besides, the under growth of teak trees simply vanishes once the pest gets to work because the rootstock vanishes completely.

No worry, say experts

However, another section of forest officials argues that the affect does not last long on the tree attacked by the pest. They say, the pestilence continues only for about a month. After this period the trees refoliate and new leaves appear, rejuvenating the growth process.

The officials also point out to the report of the Forest Research and Development wing at Warangal, which had subjected the insect and its eggs to experimentation last year after the pestilence destroyed leaves of the teak forest in July. The report said the pest did not harm the tree growth. To buttress this point, a forest official said the growth of teak trees in the demarcated area of Kuntala forest was between 5 and 10 cm last year. This was normal for one year despite occurrence of this pest. There is a need for a specific study related to the occurrence of Abia pleura and its impact on the rapidly dwindling teak forests of Adilabad.

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