Black rice bugs attack Palaro

Mars G. Alison

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Black rice bugs attack Palaro
Commonly known as 'piyangaw', the bugs emit a certain foul odor and can be normally found in ricefields and farmlands

TAGUM CITY, Philippines – Organizers of the 2015 Palarong Pambansa have been racing to rid the Davao Del Norte Sports and Tourism Complex of “Black Rice Bugs” which swarmed the place Sunday night, May 3, apparently drawn by the bright lights.

The invasion alarmed several people who were at the complex when the lights were turned on following the late finish of the athletics competition. Folks here said it was the first time the bugs came in droves.

Davao del Norte’s assistant provincial administrator, Sofonias P. Gabonda Jr. said they immediately had a meeting last night to address the issue.

Gabonda said there was no reason to worry about the bugs since they were harmless. He added the organizers would just have to adjust the lightings of the complex to make sure there would be no repeat of last night’s “invasion.”

Commonly known as “piyangaw,” the bugs emit a certain foul odor and can be normally found in ricefields and farmlands. They are usually in abundance during the full moon and are attracted to the light.

This morning, the organizers had the complex, which sits on a 12-hectare area, swept clean ahead of the opening ceremonies. Workers were able to fill a handful of trash bins with dead and alive Black Rice Bugs.

Rice Black Bugs fill up a trash bag. Photo by Mars Alison/Rappler

This is the first time na ganito talaga ka dami so we haven’t anticipated na mangyayari to. But this is a natural phenomena. It’s their cycle right now and sadly nataon ngayon na Palaro,” said Gabonada.

(This is the first time that there’s a large number of them so we didn’t anticipate this would happen. It’s their cycle right now and sadly it happened during Palaro.)

So far, there have been no reports of health-related cases due to the Rice Black Bug invasion.

Gabonada warned though that the people should be extra careful because the bugs may cause a problem when swallowed accidentally.

Kailangan tayong lahat medyo mag-ingat lang din talaga lalo na pag kumakain tayo, mahirap na kahit sabihin nating harmless naman ang mga ito,” Gabonada added.

(We should all be careful especially when we are eating. Just take caution even if we say they are harmless.)

Tournament managers of the events which will be played at the sports complex especially at night have also studied other options.

Rufino Arellano, the football tournament manager, said he hopes the insects will be gone by the time they use the field, otherwise, the matches may not be played as scheduled. Some of the football matches are scheduled at night and will need proper lighting.

Should the problem of the bugs not be solved, the event that would suffer most is the swimming. This morning, Richard Luna of Philswimming spearheaded the cleaning of the swimming pool which was littered with bugs.

Since the swimming competition will start early Tuesday morning, Luna said they should make sure not to turn on the lights at the pool tonight, otherwise, he would have to cancel the swimming competition.

Napakahirap maglinis ng pool. Okay lang sa ibang events kasi pwde nilang apak-apakan lang habang naglalaro, eh dito, kung malunok yan ng mga bata? Mahirap na, mas mabuti pang walang competition dito kung ganun,” said Luna.

(It is hard to clean the pool. It’s okay with other events because they can just step on the bugs while they are playing. But here in the pool, what if the players who swim accidentally swallow those insects. It’s better to have no competition if that will be the case.)

Unfortunately, there is no other Olympic-size pool in Tagum, not even in Davao City. –

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