Archive for the ‘Emerging/invasive pests’ Category



March 4th, 2015

Green-bananas-on-plant-bunch-panoramaPhoto: http://www.shutterstock.com
The Australian banana industry is on high alert after a suspected case of Panama Disease Tropical Race IV (TR4) was detected on a plantation in the North Queensland region of Tully. Green bananas on plant bunch panorama

The disease had previously only been present in the Northern Territory within Australia, and further testing is being conducted to confirm whether this is indeed the first case in the leading banana-growing state of Queensland.

Biosecurity Queensland has quarantined the farm.

Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) chairman Doug Phillips had advised all banana growers to immediately review their on-farm biosecurity practices.

“Biosecurity is the most important issue to the Australian banana industry and Panama TR4 is the most serious of all biosecurity risks for us,” Phillips said in a release.

“This suspected case has been identified through the banana industry’s ongoing communication with growers about biosecurity risks and our surveillance work, with the plant sample collected by one of our field officers after being notified by the grower of an unhealthy plant.

“Although this is a suspected case of Panama TR4 both ABGC and Biosecurity Queensland are treating this case with the utmost seriousness.”




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Jerusalem Post


By SHARON UDASIN 02/22/2015

Nematode wormsNematode worms.. (photo credit:BIOBEE)
Originating in Southeast Asia, the red palm weevil has spread throughout the Mediterranean area as well as other countries such as China, Japan and even the United states, according to Agriculture Ministry data. The larvae of the weevil gnaw into the trunks and crowns of palm trees and cause severe damage – usually leading to the death and collapse of the tree and the destruction of entire orchards or parks.

In Israel, the red palm weevils first presented itself in palm groves north of the Dead Sea in 1999, after which they were controlled through mass trappings and chemical treatments, according to the Agriculture Ministry. Infections have occurred on and off since.

BioBee, a company that engages in “biologically based integrated pest management” – using living organisms to control agricultural pests – has brought in the nematode worms, which are not dangerous in any way to humans or animals, the company said.

The firm stressed that the weevils have become resistant to many of the chemical treatments against them, which can also be toxic to humans or other animals.

As part of the biologically based control method, workers place nematode worms in each of the affected palm trees, and the worms are able to identify the red palm weevil larvae and target them, BioBee said. The nematodes infect the weevils in a parasitic way, causing their death and dying with them as they lose their own food source.

In addition to bringing in the nematodes, BioBee is also making use of traps from Spain that mimic the smell of an infected tree. The weevils are attracted to the smell and enter the trap to drown. This method has proved successful in the Canary Islands, which have also suffered damage from the weevils, the company said.


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West Hawaii Today

Posted February 25, 2015 – 6:14am

coffee borer Hawaii

A coffee berry borer-infested coffee bean and cherry is shown. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)A coffee berry borer-infested coffee bean and cherry is shown. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

The Hawaii Board of Agriculture on Tuesday voted to place coffee grown on all areas of Oahu under the same quarantine restrictions as previously enacted for the Waialua area and Hawaii Island in an effort to prevent the spread of the coffee berry borer.

On Dec. 17, 2014, the board placed coffee grown at Waialua Estate Coffee Farms and coffee roasted at the Old Waialua Sugar Mill under the same quarantine restrictions as coffee grown on Hawaii Island after the detection of CBB. Since the initial detection in Waialua, CBB has been found in Wahiawa and Poamoho in Central Oahu.

The board’s unanimous vote on Tuesday expands the designated infested area and extends the interisland quarantine restrictions to all of Oahu beginning Wednesday, Feb. 25.

“Expanding the coffee quarantine safeguards to cover Oahu is an important step in helping to keep other coffee-growing islands free of the coffee berry borer,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the agriculture board. “Oahu is a hub for the state’s coffee trade and we need to make sure that coffee beans that are imported to, as well as exported from Oahu are not spreading this destructive pest.”

So far, CBB (Hypothenemus hampei) has not been detected on Maui, Kauai, Molokai and Lanai.

The quarantine restrictions imposed for Oahu are equivalent to those in effect for coffee from Hawaii Island since December 2010. It requires a permit from the agriculture department to transport unroasted coffee beans, coffee plants and plant parts, used coffee bags and coffee harvesting equipment from CBB-infested islands to other noninfested areas or islands to prevent CBB movement.

The rules also require certain treatments and inspection by state Plant Quarantine inspectors prior to shipping. Inspectors will either attach a tag, label or stamp to indicate the shipment passed inspection requirements. For unroasted coffee beans, acceptable treatment protocols include fumigation, freezing and heat treatment. The coffee beans must also be roasted at a facility that is at least five miles from any commercial coffee-growing area.

One of the most devastating coffee pests, CBB was first detected in September 2010 in Kona and discovered in Ka’u in May 2011. This small beetle bores into the coffee cherry where is lays its eggs. The larvae feed on the coffee bean, reducing the yield and quality of the bean.

CBB is native to Central Africa and is also found in many coffee-growing regions of the world, including Central and South America.

– See more at: http://westhawaiitoday.com/community-bulletin/quarantine-restrictions-extended-all-oahu-grown-coffee#sthash.GwfLK9dR.4KyY2BW6.dpuf

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The New Zealand Herald



A fruit fly warning sign on the corner of Sandringham Road and Royal Terrace. Photo / Brett Phibbs


Officials battling to contain a Queensland fruit fly incursion in central Auckland have ruled out aerial spraying following confirmation of a fourth fly being discovered in traps.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said today that aerial spraying was not the most appropriate treatment and was not being considered as a contingency option if it emerged the pest had established a wider population here.

It comes after a male fruit fly was found in another trap in the controlled area around Grey Lynn last night.

The find brings the total to four confirmed Queensland fruit flies in a week, with three male fruit flies caught in traps, and a single unmated female located at a residential property on Friday. One pupa and 39 larvae have also been found.

A spokeswoman for MPI said they were not considering using a technique in which sterile insects were used to lure out the pesky fruit flies.
“That is used for larger scale infestations, not localised situations,” she said.

Horticulture New Zealand have said the incursion is a “huge worry” but declined to comment further today.

In a statement provided to NZME. News Service, MPI said there was “no consideration of aerial spraying at all” to deal with the potentially crop destroying pest.

“The appropriate treatment, as outlined on our website and in all our media releases, is baiting, using a protein bait that attracts both male and female fruit flies,” a spokeswoman said.

“This contains a very small amount of fipronil insecticide, which is an insecticide used most commonly in pet flea collars.

“On occasions where plants are found to be infested with Queensland fruit fly (identified from fruit inspections), cover spray will be applied to these infested plants using a ground-based applicator. Bifenthrin is the insecticide that will be used in this situation.

“This treatment is safe for use in residential areas because it has been proven to do no harm to people, or animals such as family pets or livestock. Because of this it is one of the most common insect treatments found in products sold in supermarkets and hardware stores.”

The statement will ease fears among those worried the ministry might spray large swathes of Auckland if it is found the pest has established a population here.

Aerial spraying campaigns were used in 1996 to eradicate the white-spotted tussock moth in Auckland’s eastern suburbs and, between 1999 and 2003 against the painted apple moth in the western suburbs.

The then Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s controversial decision to aerial spray west Auckland to combat the spread of painted apple moth was met with anger and protests.

An ombudsman’s report in 2007 said officials failed to pay enough attention to the health effects of the insecticide Foray 48B which was used in the painted apple moth outbreak and an Asian gypsy moth outbreak in Hamilton between 2002 and 2004.

– Additional reporting: Claire Trevett of the New Zealand Herald

The story so far:

– Four confirmed Queensland fruit flies found

– Three male fruit flies caught in traps

– A single unmated female located at a residential property

– One pupa and 39 larvae also found

– MPI not considering aerial spraying or sterile insect technique


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February 19th, 2015


Queensland_Fruit_Fly_-_Bactrocera_tryoni-300x298Queensland Fruit Fly – Bactrocera tryoni

Photo: Queensland Fruit Fly, via Wikimedia Creative Commons

Horticulture New Zealand has called for a bolstering of the country biosecurity measures after a single male Queensland fruit fly was found in a surveillance trap near Auckland.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating the find, which was made late afternoon on Feb. 16 in the suburb of Grey Lynn and formally identified the following day.

MPI chief operations officer Andrew Coleman said only the one male insect had been trapped and this did not mean New Zealand had an outbreak of fruit fly.

“The Queensland fruit fly has been detected five times before in northern New Zealand – in Whangarei and in Auckland. In all cases MPI carried out thorough surveillance and no further flies were found,” he said.

Coleman added the MPI had responded swiftly and field teams starting work yesterday setting additional fruit fly lure traps to determine if other flies are present in the area, and if other flies are there, preventing any spread of the pest out of the area.

“It is vital to find out if this insect is a solitary find or if there is a wider population in Auckland,” he said.

“This insect, if established here, could have serious consequences for New Zealand’s horticultural industry. It can damage a wide range of fruit and vegetables and could lead to restrictions on trade in some of our horticultural exports.”

The MPI said it had now placed legal controls on the movement of fruit and some vegetables outside of a defined circular area which extends 1.5km (1 mile) from where the fly was trapped in Grey Lynn.

Spread of pest in Australia ‘out of control’

Since the find, Horticulture New Zealand has called for the reinstalling of 100% x-rays of passenger bags at the country’s international airports until at least the end of summer.

The organization said in a release this detection was the fourth in three years and put New Zealand’s NZ$5 billion (US$3.8 billion) horticultural industry at risk.

“So far it is only one fly. And we fully support the Ministry for Primary Industries’ response to this threat,” HortNZ president Julian Raine said.

HortNZ requested the public back the Ministry’s efforts, especially in the exclusion zone areas, as it said the pest would also have big impacts on home gardeners.

It added it was laying the blame for this breach on Australia’s inability to control the pest, claiming the country’s biosecurity protection within its own state borders was ‘seriously breaking down.’

The group said that last week the residents of Adelaide were told of the second detection of Queensland fruit flies in their city in less than two months, while seven flies found in the last detection.

“South Australia is supposed to be a Queensland fruit fly free state. Obviously the spread of this pest is out-of-control in Australia and the interstate regulators are powerless to stop its progression south,” Raine said.

The Queensland fruit fly can only come from Australia and some Pacific islands, most likely via a passenger coming off a plane or on a consignment of imported fruit.

“Reinstating the 100% x-ray of passenger bags coming from across the Tasman would go a long way towards helping us improve our protection and lower this risk,” Raine added.

“It is not acceptable to go through this drama every summer. New Zealand horticulture deserves better protection.”

HortNZ added the cost to the horticultural industry would be two-fold, involving the destruction caused by the pest and the ongoing cost of attempting to control it as well as the cost of international markets closing to New Zealand’s products.


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Standard Digital News

BY KIBIWOTT KOROSS Updated Saturday, February 7th 2015 at 00:00 GMT +3

tuta tomato  imgjex3jsdy

Tomatoes affected by the deadly Tuta absoluta pest. Farmers in various parts of the country are counting losses following the outbreak of the pest can that can destroy up to 100 per cent. Photo courtesy Kenya Biologics Ltd.

NAIROBI: Farmers are worried following an outbreak of a pest attack that is wiping away tomatoes in Rift Valley and Central. The pest known as Tuta absoluta, a grey-brown moth that is 7mm, wipes out up to 100 per cent of the yield within days and has no known cure. The invasive pest attacks fruits both in the open farm and in the greenhouses. ‘Smart Harvest’ interviewed some of the affected farmers who have recorded huge losses. Julius Kibor, a farmer from Kibendo in Elgeyo Marakwet County says crops, which would have been harvested between November and January, were wiped out by the pest. “Most of us thought it was blight. We learnt too late that it was Tuta absoluta. The pest has wiped away all our produce,” says Kibor.

Tuta absoluta feeds on the leaves and the fruits of tomatoes. It lays eggs, which are 0.5 mm long and can be found on the underside of young leaves or on the stems. Young larvae are about a millimetre long, yellowish in colour but after sometime they become green and up to 7mm long. This makes it difficult for farmers to notice when it strikes especially in new zones. Agricultural expert Joyce Njoroge, says the pest is lethal and a female pest can produce up to 260 eggs in 21 days. Njoroge, who works with Kenya Biologics Ltd, a consortium of scientists who help farmers with information on how to improve crop production, says the pests can destroy 100 per cent of the crops in the field. Njoroge explains: “It is not a viral disease nor is it blight. These are very dangerous pests, which can destroy a whole harvest.” The larval period, according to scientist is the worst stage where the pest grows into a caterpillar which feeds on the leaves of the tomato. According to Dr Wilson Rono, a food crop scientist at the Food Agricultural Organisation, the moth destroys the photosynthetic activity of plant and thereby destroying the whole crop. Rono says: “…a multi-institutional technical team comprised of Mininistry of Agriculture, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis), Kenya Agricultural Research Organisation (Karlo) and University of Nairobi, was constituted to carry out survey on the pest. The team was rallied together following reports by stakeholders indicating the presence of a new pest causing symptoms resembling the migratory tomato leaf miner.” The Government has embarked on public awareness and capacity building of the extension service providers, plant inspectors, transporters, county market personnel and the farmers on identification skills and general management of the pest.

Read more at: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/thecounties/article/2000150798/kenyan-tomato-farmers-count-losses-as-pest-ravages-crop

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Indian Council of Agricultural Research
Invasive species, alien species, exotic pests, or invasive alien species, are common names that categorize non-native animals, insects, microbes, diseases, or plants that are pests. These pests are not native in areas in which they cause problems and they are considered “invasive” because they invade and establish populations in new areas and the resulting uncontrolled population growth and spread causes economic or environmental problems. South American tomato pinworm, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick, 1917) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) also known as the tomato leaf miner is one of the destructive invasive pest observed for the first time infesting tomato crop in Maharashtra, India. This pest has been classified as the most serious threat for tomato production worldwide. The pest has spread from South America to several parts of Europe, entire Africa and has now spread to India. Plants are damaged by direct feeding on leaves, stems, buds, calyces, young fruit, or ripe fruit and by the invasion of secondary pathogens which enter through the wounds made by the pest. It can cause up to 90% loss of yield and fruit quality under greenhouses and field conditions.

The pest was initially observed in Pune on tomato plants grown in polyhouse and fields during October 2014. The specimens were collected, identified and deposited at National Pusa Collection (NPC), Division of Entomology, ICAR-IARI, New Delhi by P.R. Shashank and K. Chandrashekar, ICAR-IARI scientists. Subsequently the pest was observed in the farmer’s fields in major tomato growing districts of Maharashtra viz., Pune, Ahmadnagar, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nashik, and Satara. Severe infestation (>50% plants affected) was observed in several tomato fields.

Following the reports of Maharashtra, recent surveys conducted by researchers of Network Project on Insect Biosystematics (NPIB), University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru and ICAR-NBAIR, Bengaluru in January, 2015 observed the presence of this pest in Kolar and Bengaluru districts of Karnataka. The current report of T. absoluta from India is alarming because this pest is oligophagous and can attack several suitable solanaceous host plants. Present information is useful for adaptation of rapid response strategies against its invasion by educating farmers, extension entomologists and other stakeholders.


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