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Worms infest grassland

A WORM infestation has largely destroyed 14,700 hectares of grassland in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and pastures were cordoned off yesterday for 10 days to allow workers to spray pesticide.

The outbreak is threatening grass supply to more than 200,000 heads of livestock owned by more than 200 households.

The dark worm, known to scientists as Entonmoscelis Adonidis Pall, has infested pastures in Shawan County, Tacheng Prefecture, said Zhao Dengke, vice director of the locusts and rodents control station in the prefecture.

Shawan is about 180 kilometers north of Urumqi, the regional capital.

Herders have been told to take livestock to worm-free pastures while pesticides are sprayed.

About 8,000 hectares were seriously damaged, leading to a 50-percent decrease in grass output and an estimated loss of 1 million yuan (US$146,500) this year, said Li Zhixin, head of the county's pasture working station.

The worms are 1 to 2 centimeters long. They are so numerous that there are up to 3,000 worms per square meter, according to Li.

The county has more than 553,000 hectares of pasture and crop land, including about 200,000 hectares in Shawan.

The warm winter and frequent rain this spring provided a favorable breeding ground for the worms, Zhao said.

The county experienced worm outbreaks in 2004 and 2007. A locust infestation last year caused 3 million yuan in losses.

Earlier this month, a mysterious worm infested 8,000 hectares of pasture in Usu County of Tacheng.


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