|Mystery liquid: Basins being placed on top of a chicken coop under the |
petal tree to catch the droplets from the insects in Pinang Tunggal yesterday.
Witnesses said they felt showers and occasional droplets from the trees — a 12m petai tree in Kampung Lembah Raja in Pinang Tunggal and an 18m wild tree in Taman Ria Jaya in Sungai Petani.
|Curious spectators: A group of people craning their |
necks to see the cicadas in Sungai Petani.
Former Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia lecturer Prof Dr Zaidi Mat Isa said the showers from the trees could be water discharge or urine from cicadas during mating season.
“But, it is difficult to imagine how these little insects can retain so much water,” said Dr Zaidi, who has been conducting research on cicadas for over 10 years.
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Vector Control Research Unit coordinator Assoc Prof Dr Zairi Jaal, however, said insects generally do not discharge waste material in fluid form.
“The water could have come from the trees.
“Nevertheless, there are cicadas that can hibernate and suddenly emerge in large numbers, mate and die,” he said.
Odd-job worker Abdul Ghani Md Hussin, 41, who owns the 35-year-old petai tree, said he first felt the showers last Saturday at about 4pm when he was walking past the tree which is next to his poultry shed.
“My wife Norhayati Abdul Karim also felt the showers. But there was no rain at that time.
“The clear water sprinkles are heavier at night and we collected about a pail of water over the past week,” he said.
Norhayati, 38, a housewife, said she did not stop anyone from collecting the water, noting that some believed it was a blessing to wipe their bodies and face with the “holy water”.
She said some individuals were selling the water for RM5 per cup.
Norhayati said some people went to look at the tree even at 3am and 4am.
|Small sample: Saad Saban, 67, (wearing kopiah) showing the |
insects' liquids in a small plastic bag to a visitor at
Kampung Lembah Raja in Pinang Tunggal.
“But, if is cicada’s urine, how come only this particular tree is spraying water when the cicadas are also found on other trees as well?” he asked.
The State Islamic Religious Department had put up a notice warning Muslims from worshipping the tree, noting that offenders could face a maximum fine of RM3,000 or maximum two years jail, or both.
In Sungai Petani, some individuals had even built an altar under the wild tree. They have lighted joss sticks and placed offerings including coffee, milk, tablets and thosai with dhall curry.
The 25-year-old tree, located at an open field behind the Pasar Singgah Selalu SP market, had pieces of “holy” cloth tied to its branches and bore some dried red marks which resembled bloodstains.
Muhamad Sharul Rizan Halmi, 29, from the nearby Paya Nahu flats, said there were no cicadas in the area.
Onlooker Saw Kok Lye, 58, said some people opined that the phenomenon would usher in good fortune.
“Some punters believed it is a sign that ‘Datuk Kong’ would bless visitors with winning numbers,” he said.