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Forcipomyia taiwana expands to urban areas

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The midge Forcipomyia taiwana has been spreading from mountainous areas to urban areas due to overpopulation and the pauperization of small vehicles in recent years, National Chung Hsing University announced yesterday.

According to National Chung Hsing University's Department of Entomology, Forcipomyia taiwana, a type of small midge whose bite causes an allergic reaction, has existed in Taiwan for over 80 years.

However, Taiwan's humid weather makes it easier for Forcipomyia taiwana to survive in any area in Taiwan, entomology professor Tu Wu-jun (杜武俊) said.

Tu said that global warming speeds up the spreading of Forcipomyia taiwana. Moreover, the exploitation of mountain areas and the pauperization of small vehicles also help Forcipomyia taiwana to start occupying urban areas.

According to Tu, Forcipomyia taiwana has been living in Taiwan for over 80 years and in 1994 experts in Taiwan conducted investigation on where the Forcipomyia taiwana was located. Based on that investigation, Taipei, Miaoli, Kaohsiung, Taitung and Keelung had no signs of Forcipomyia taiwana.

When the same investigation was conducted in 1996, it showed that except for Pingtung and Taitung, Forcipomyia taiwana could be seen everywhere in Taiwan, proving that the pest migrates quickly.

Forcipomyia Taiwana Affects Tourism

According to National Chung Hsing University, Forcipomyia taiwana can not only lower quality of life but also affects the development of tourism in many areas, suggesting that local governments, schools and neighborhoods should work hard to solve this issue.

Based on the school's research, Forcipomyia taiwana tends to show up in areas like yards, outdoor dining areas, parks and areas around huge trees.

According to the Agriculture Bureau of Taichung Government, there is no efficient way tocombat Forcipomyia taiwana because the bureau schedules two sterilization works annually, but it still cannot kill off all of the midges.

Nantou County Government said that Forcipomyia taiwana usually stay in mountainous areas under 400 meters, but most of Taiwan's forests have been destroyed due to overdevelopment, leading to their further spread.

According to Nantou County Government, many popular tourist spots like Sun Moon Lake, Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village and Chung Hsing New Villege have all been occupied by Forcipomyia taiwana now.

Taitung Magistrate Justin Huang (黃健庭) said that the government has tried many measures to solve this issue, but the results are usually limited in scope. Therefore, Huang said that central health agencies and academic research organizations should come up with better ways to combat Forcipomyia taiwana soon.

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