Entomologist: “Don’t Be Alarmed!”

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With the recent sightings of the Frangipani Moth and the Pill Bug also known as Wood lice, Entomologist at the Ministry of Agriculture, Ian Gibbs is urging Barbadians not to panic.

"Over the past few weeks the Ministry has been receiving numerous calls from members of the public, who are complaining about the influx of these two particular insects, and I want to say do not get alarmed as they are harmless.

"With regards to the Pill Bug, it is the only crustacean that can spend its entire life on land.?? Their shells look like armour and they are known for their ability to roll into a ball. They also tend to eat mostly rotting vegetation and they live in wet locations usually under damp objects or in organic matter.?? However, I want to emphasise that Pill Bugs do not spread diseases or contaminate food," he stressed.

Pointing out that wood lice can sometimes significantly multiply as was the case over the past few weeks, the Entomologist admitted that when such population increases occur the bugs can become a nuisance and ultimately invade your house.

"People have complained that they are finding them all over their house and by extension property but they can be controlled inside the house with any common household insecticide spray or outside the house with an insecticide such as Bifen," Mr. Gibbs surmised.

In addition to the Pill bug, the Frangipani Moth was also sighted. ??

"This particular moth is an occasional pest of frangipani trees in Barbados, and although the adults exhibit mostly drab grey coloration, larvae are conspicuous – large caterpillars that often occur in gardens feeding on the frangipani," he explained.

In describing the frangipani moth larva, the entomologist revealed that larvae are velvety black with yellow rings; have a reddish-orange head and can attain lengths of up to six inches.

Disclosing that female moths could lay approximately 50 to 100 eggs in clusters on leaves of the frangipani tree, Mr. Gibbs noted that hand-picking larvae was probably the best way to eliminate them from the trees.

"Hand-picking is your best option, however, persons can use biorational or a "soft" pesticide product such as NewBt ?? but their presence and feeding habits typically do not cause severe damage to hosts and trees typically survive," he said. tblackman@barbados.gov.bb

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