SANTIAGO The bagrada bug has appeared in Chile for the first time in recent months, and has damaged crops of cabbages, broccoli and other vegetables, the government said on Friday.
Bagrada hilaris, also known as the painted bug, is a native of Africa, and was recorded for the first time in South America by scientists late last year.
The government said over 200 hectares (494 acres) had been damaged by the pest in central Chile, the country's main agricultural area. Crops affected include cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, rocket and radish, it said.
The bug lowers yields, causes wilting and staining, and damages buds.
The government said it was investigating the pest's behavior in Chile and would give farmers a one-off payment to finance pesticide purchases.
Southern hemisphere Chile is an important supplier of opposite-season fruit and vegetables to northern hemisphere countries.
(Reporting by Ivan Alvarado, Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)