Attack of the killer moths

Will the Beijing Olympics be ruined by….moths? A major goal for the party is to present Beijing as a “green” city, replete with vegetation specifically planted to drive the point home. That’s now being threatened by anti-socialist moths from, of course, the USA. China is trying to lure them (and destroy them) with nature’s most sure-fire charm – sex.

Sexually attracting agents, insecticide lamps and bees are being used to combat a ravenous plant-eating moth which threatens to turn Beijing’s “Green Olympics” brown, China’s forestry officials have said.

The American White Moth, native to North American forests, threatened thousands of hectares of trees planted around Beijing as part of the campaign to host an environmentally friendly Games in 2008, they said.

Wu Jian, chief engineer of the forestry department, told China’s state news agency Xinhua that efforts to present a green city to the world could be in vain if the pest was not effectively controlled. The moth is a prolific breeder that can lay up to 3,000 eggs at a time, with larvae capable of stripping a healthy tree of foliage in a matter of days.

The State Forestry Administration said on Wednesday it had mobilized environmental defence forces across the region to counter the threat to forests in northern China. Xinhua did not say what sexually attracting agents were being used or how they helped eliminate the moths.

In addition to the planting of trees, environmental initiatives for the 2008 Games include pest elimination campaigns targeting rats, fleas and lice at gymnasiums and athletes’ villages.

Lofty goals, all. If the Olympics weren’t coming, however, would they be doing any of these things? I’d be far more impressed if they were to pursue such noble initiatives for the sake of their own people, not just the foreigners arriving for the 2008 games.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 2 Comments

To be fair, my guess would be that they would try to get ride of the moths even when there were no olympics comming. The trees of northeastern China are playing a critical role in the fight against desertification. There is a huge program going on of planting new trees at the frontiere fo the desert, to stop it. So I guess apart from the olympics the authorities have other interests too, to prevent the trees from beeing eaten up.

March 31, 2006 @ 1:40 am | Comment

Honestly, unless they get that smog situation under control, whether there are trees or not will be irrelevent. Beijing could have a luxuriant canopy, but the rest of the world would not be commenting on the trees. The last time I was there, I didn’t think about the presence or lack of trees. I thought about how everything was so hazy — how when I was standing on one corner of Tiananmen Square, I felt like I was seeing the buildings on the other side through a cloud. Of course, I have heard that they are trying to combat that problem too.

March 31, 2006 @ 7:20 pm | Comment

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