LINGAYEN, Pangasinan -- A total of 753 hectares of rice lands in seven towns of eastern Pangasinan have been affected by the tiny pest called Rice Black Bug (RBB).

This was bared Friday by Dalisay Moya, officer-in-charge of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAg) in Pangasinan.

She said the pest  already wreaked havoc on rice farms in Manaoag, Urdaneta, Villasis, Asingan, Tayug, San Manuel and Rosales.

Moya told the farmers not  to panic, adding that they have found an effective means to combat the infestation through the use of a biological pest control  agent called Metarhizium, a green fungus.

At the sideline of the ongoing Climate Change Seminar in Alaminos  City sponsored by the Philippine Agricultural Journalists (PAJ), Inc.  Moya confirmed that Metarhizium is more effective  than pesticide.

She said she already ordered plant technicians from her office to convene pest surveillance officers in all the affected towns to teach them how to prepare and apply Metarhizium in their farms.

She said the fungus is found effective in checking the growth of population of RBBs and prevent their migration to other fields.

Moya is also planning to set up night traps in strategic areas of rice fields for RBBs which come out from hiding when there is full moon.

The insect stays on the rice fields and in roots of rice plants and sip their juices till their stems and leaves turn brownish and die.

Since the female RBBs easily multiply, Moya called on farmers to immediately plow their fields after their rice harvest to destroy the eggs of the insect. (PNA)