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Super bugs threaten to eat into vitals of tea industry

By Ajit Patowary

GUWAHATI, March 20 � As if taking a leaf out of a science fiction novel, some bugs are transforming themselves into super bugs, thereby making the common pesticides worthless in the State�s tea estates.

Besides helopeltis�the Tea Mosquito Bug that has been keeping the tea planters of the State scary for the past several years- this list of the bugs turning into super bugs, also includes insects like looper caterpillar. Looper caterpillar is gradually attaining resistance against the common pesticides used in our tea estates.

Disclosing this, renowned consultant tea scientist P Bordoloi told this correspondent that helopeltis is found in some areas to be resistant to the common pesticides. The looper caterpillar has also attained such resistance against certain common pesticides in North Bengal tea estates and they are found to be gradually attaining such resistance in Assam too.

Constant use of the same kind of pesticides is leading to the transformation of these insects into super bugs much to the anxiety of the tea planters and the scientists as well, Bordoloi said. Repeated failure of pesticide at recommended dose to achieve the control of the targeted pest is reported almost regularly in the tea plantations.

Resistance develops through the overuse or misuse of a pesticide against a pest species and results in survival of resistant forms of the pest and the consequent evolution of populations that are resistant to that pesticide, he said.

He attributed this development to the lack of knowledge among the tea planters about the adverse impacts of the regular use of the same kind of chemicals to control the same species of insect, together with the less scientific research on the subject of Insect Resistance Management.

�Research work is less in tea in regards to control of the specific pests with respect to the resistance they develop,� said the noted tea scientist.

Moreover, he said, organic pest control methods are yet to become fully successful at commercial level, particularly in endemic condition and severe infestation.

On the prevailing pest-related scenario in the State�s tea estates, he said that so far helopeltis infestation is low but red spider is more active this time. However, the problem will arise from May next, when the export season starts.

As, he said, there are restrictions on the use of many pesticides in the importing countries. By and large all the tea estates here know the lists of maximum residual level (MRL) of the pesticides for the European Union (EU) countries.

But there is confusion due to discrepancies on large scale in the MRLs fixed by different countries. The updated lists of MRLs of the importers like Japan, USA and Russia are mostly not readily available at producers� level here, he said.

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Super bugs threaten to eat into vitals of tea industry

GUWAHATI, March 20 � As if taking a leaf out of a science fiction novel, some bugs are transforming themselves into super bugs, thereby making the common pesticides worthless in the State�s tea estates.

Besides helopeltis�the Tea Mosquito Bug that has been keeping the tea planters of the State scary for the past several years- this list of the bugs turning into super bugs, also includes insects like looper caterpillar. Looper caterpillar is gradually attaining resistance against the common pesticides used in our tea estates.

Disclosing this, renowned consultant tea scientist P Bordoloi told this correspondent that helopeltis is found in some areas to be resistant to the common pesticides. The looper caterpillar has also attained such resistance against certain common pesticides in North Bengal tea estates and they are found to be gradually attaining such resistance in Assam too.

Constant use of the same kind of pesticides is leading to the transformation of these insects into super bugs much to the anxiety of the tea planters and the scientists as well, Bordoloi said. Repeated failure of pesticide at recommended dose to achieve the control of the targeted pest is reported almost regularly in the tea plantations.

Resistance develops through the overuse or misuse of a pesticide against a pest species and results in survival of resistant forms of the pest and the consequent evolution of populations that are resistant to that pesticide, he said.

He attributed this development to the lack of knowledge among the tea planters about the adverse impacts of the regular use of the same kind of chemicals to control the same species of insect, together with the less scientific research on the subject of Insect Resistance Management.

�Research work is less in tea in regards to control of the specific pests with respect to the resistance they develop,� said the noted tea scientist.

Moreover, he said, organic pest control methods are yet to become fully successful at commercial level, particularly in endemic condition and severe infestation.

On the prevailing pest-related scenario in the State�s tea estates, he said that so far helopeltis infestation is low but red spider is more active this time. However, the problem will arise from May next, when the export season starts.

As, he said, there are restrictions on the use of many pesticides in the importing countries. By and large all the tea estates here know the lists of maximum residual level (MRL) of the pesticides for the European Union (EU) countries.

But there is confusion due to discrepancies on large scale in the MRLs fixed by different countries. The updated lists of MRLs of the importers like Japan, USA and Russia are mostly not readily available at producers� level here, he said.