A wide area of strawberry, potato, cabbage, white onion, and spinach crops in Da Lat, the capital city of Lam Dong Province, have been destroyed by the bizarre creatures, Lai The Hung, head of the provincial Plant Protection Department, said on Friday.
“The [creatures] are called ‘superman’ by farmers as they move very quickly on the ground, making it hard to catch them to take samples for research,” Hung said.
The creatures are in fact the soil-dwelling arthropods known as symphylans, or garden centipedes or pseudocentipedes.
Symphylans resemble centipedes, but are smaller and translucent, with a body measuring an average if 2 to 10 millimeters long.
With six to ten pairs of legs, they can move rapidly through the pores between soil particles, and are typically found from the surface down to a depth of about 50 cm.
The ‘superman’ arthropod is seen via a microscope
They consume decaying vegetation, but can do considerable harm in an agricultural setting by consuming seeds, roots, and root hairs in cultivated soil.
The ‘superman’ can destroy 100 square meters of vegetables in ten days.
The garden centipede is considered a new crop killer in Vietnam, and there is thus no available scientific research about their biological properties.
There is no product specifically made to kill the creatures in the list of pesticides approved by Vietnamese authorities.
The Lam Dong Plant Protection Department is conducting research on the creature to work out a method to kill them, according to the department head.