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Simply weird!

April 11, 2011

Yesterday Marty Bergoffen gave a talk on the Mekong river. Either there will be eleven dams wiping out the fish, or there will be overpopulation wiping out the fish. It is sad, the area has a huge potential for sustainable development; riverside organic farms, promenades, boat cruises, dolphin watching, beast watching (5 meters sting rays and 500 kg catfish), fishing and fish restaurants. The best scenario is a moratorium on the dam development and a restricted fishing, then the river can live forever.

A recent misunderstanding among some journalists is that overpopulation is no longer a threat. At the same time, politicians talk about doubling the food production until 2050 and building dams and nuclear power plants in earth quake prone areas to meet the demand from a growing population. The growth speed has slowed down, which is great, but the population is still growing, which is disastrous. Fighting poverty and promoting education are the cures which we learnt from climax societies such as Japan and Sweden. That will not have an effect in China or Southeast Asia for a few generations, so let’s prepare for a world where all wild orchids and all wildlife longer than 10 cm are gone. All that is left is pest watching, which can be interesting too:

Every gardener and farmer in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand fight the mealy bugs (Pseudococcidae). They are protected by wax making them hard to kill without detergents. They belong to the insect order Hemiptera, suborder Homoptera, including other primitive insects with incomplete metamorphosis and sucking mouthparts such as singing cicadas (Cicadoideae), little leaf hoppers (Cicadellidae), the foamy froghoppers (Cercopoidea), the often immobile scale insects (Coccoideae), white flies (Aleyrodidae) and the fragile aphids (Aphidoideae). All these families contain notorious pests on crops and beloved ornamentals.

Previously I blogged about an extreme form of scale insect, the Chinese wax bug. Two days ago when I took a walk with Ruben I saw some surprisingly large ‘mealy bugs’, but since it was getting dark I planned to take the pictures in the next morning. When I went out to do that, I got a shock when these ‘mealy bugs’ began jumping! Mealy bugs can not do that! I thought this was an extreme form of leaf hopper, but back home I realized this was a member of a more primitive family: Plant hoppers (Fulgoridae). They are usually beautifully ornamented, like the very common lantern bug (Pyrops candelaria). If any of our readers know what species of waxy plant hopper it might be, please let me know.

Eric Danell

A waxy plant hopper nymph sitting on  a fresh leaf.


Surprisingly big!


(The suborders Heteroptera (including stink bugs) and Homoptera (including mealy bugs) make up the order Hemiptera, some 80 000 species hitherto described).

(As requested by Ricky Ward, I published a picture of a guineafowl, taken by Marie Bedell.)

One Comment leave one →
  1. sally permalink
    April 11, 2011 8:27 PM

    Have the same in my garden and local Thai people have been amazed when they “jumped’ said they’d never seen them before. Would love to know more as well as my beautiful garden-made lovely by all the extra rain is now being attacked!

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