Story By: John Feng, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Asia Wire Report
Picture Credit: AsiaWire
An orchard of trees cultivated by a Chinese farmer for eight years to breed valuable beetle larvae used in Chinese medicine were chopped down by labourers working next door so they could steal the bugs inside.
The suspects, surnamed Wang and Jiang, were renovating the property next to the orchard which had been planted by the farmer so that he could breed larvae of the citrus long-horned bettle (Anoplophora chinensis).
They are extremely popular in Chinese medicine where single larvae can sell for up to 11 GBP each.
One of the two men had a brother working in Chinese medicine, and knew that the larvae which were breeding in the trees could bring in some extra cash.
So they waited until the farmer identified only by the surname Cai was not around, and then moved in to chop down the trees and cut them up in order to steal the larvae.
The farmer, from Linhai in East China’s Zhejiang Province, said it was difficult to know how many the pair took that there would have been at least 50 worm-like larvae growing and feeding in the branches.
Faced with such a big loss, Cai went to the police, who inspected the CCTV images on his land to discover the beetle larvae thieves.
The footage allegedly showed Wang and Cai entering his farm with machetes and hacking down his trees, which the farmer confirmed had been growing for at least eight years.
The pair have been arrested on theft charges and Wang admitted to stealing the larvae, saying he knew the value of the bugs because his brother-in-law uses medical products containing the insects.
Female citrus long-horned beetles lay up to 200 eggs, each of which then hatches into larva that feasts its way into the tree, pupating in tunnels for up to 18 months.