TODAY -

Friends of the 'silk producers' disappear
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, June 03 2011: Impacting under the effect of climate change, two species of insects which feed on oak aphid, a variety of plant-sucking insect/worm which in turn thrive on oak trees thereby infecting the trees have disappeared from the soil of Manipur.

On the other hand, the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD) has been planning to launch a project for mass breeding of Naoshek, a variety of insect which is a popular item of delicacy among the Meiteis.

Talking to The Sangai Express, IBSD Entomology scientist Dr T Shantibala said that disappearance of two farmer friendly species of insects which feed on oak aphid has been established after 18 years of research.

Oak aphid is a variety of insect that sucks juice from oak trees which provide food to silk worms.

These two species of insects whose biological names are Micruspis Vineta and Alloneda Dodecassi-lota, which can protect oak trees from oak aphid by feeding on them have disappeared from the soil of Manipur due to climate change.

This was established by Dr Shantibala after 18 years of research on the two insect species spanning from 1989 to 2008 .

Along with disappearance of the two farmer friendly species, a number of new species have come into being.

Research work is now under on the new species, Dr Shantibala said.

Saying that around 41 species of insects were consumed by the 33 indigenous communities of the State in different forms since the early days, Dr Shantibala said that 20 other species of insects were also consumed as medicines.

Like in Brazil, certain species of insects were used as traditional medicines.

Naoshek (Lethocuos Indicus) which is very popular among the Meiteis were used in treating such diseases as piles, cancer, infection in urinary tract etc.

However, Naoshek is now on the verge of extinction because of extensive use of insecticides and loss of natural habitat.

Taking serious note of the fate of Naoshek, IBSD has made an elaborate plan to launch a mass breeding project for the same species of insect, Dr Shantibala said.

There is also a report that another insect species locally known as Hawai Til is helpful in treating external skin tumour.

Protein obtained from insects is much higher that the quantity of protein obtained from fish.

IBSD has also made preparations to produce and market protein powder extracted from insects.

"We feel like stamping on it, when we see insects like Uphak but it is one of the many varieties of insects which produces silk", Dr Shantibala said.

She said that six different species of bees are found in Manipur.

However, due to domestication of bees for honey and other benefits, it has become hard to identify the species of bees which are found in the wild, she added.


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