Swarms of rice black bugs attacked the largest rice-producing province in the Philippines.
Clouds of the pests, known locally as ‘alitangya’, infested food stalls and shops in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija province on November 18. Local businesses had to close early as the insects invaded their establishments and pestered their customers.
Footage shows clumps of dead black bugs littering the pavement and reportedly emitting a foul smell.
Resident Erwin Carpio who recorded the video said: ‘I was surprised at how many of the bugs clung onto my jacket. They were so many of them, and they were very smelly.’
The rice black bugs usually appear during harvest season, or as the moon becomes fuller.
Trojane Soberano, a research specialist at the regional crop protection centre, said: ‘The flight of the bugs is affected by the lunar cycle. When the surroundings are bright, that’s when they migrate, especially when they have nowhere to hide in the rice fields.’
To minimise damage to crops, farmers said they have set up ‘light traps’ knowing the pests are attracted to light.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Department of Agriculture has advised locals to gather the rice black bugs and bury them underground to prevent them from proliferating.