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Why Augmentative Biological Control Holds Promise for Advancing Agriculture in Developing Countries

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Parasitoid wasps in the genus Trichgramma are often used in augmentative biological control efforts to manage crop pests. Here, a female Trichogramma dendroliti wasp lays an egg of its own inside an armyworm egg. (Photo by Victor Fursov, Ph.D.CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Anamika Sharma, Ph.D.

Anamika Sharma, Ph.D.

A sustainable agricultural system could make the economies of developing countries more stable and self-dependent, and augmentative biological control provides such an opportunity. The aim of augmentative biological control is to manage a crop pest through inoculation and inundation of biological control agents, or natural enemies of the pest. These can include predator or parasitoid insects or microbial organisms. A focused effort and investment to enhance the commercial production of biocontrol agents can improve the human and institutional capacity of developing countries.

The establishment of augmentative biological control requires extensive dissemination of appropriate information and capacity building. One of the major priorities of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management—located at Virginia Tech’s Center for International Research, Education, and Development and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development—is improving the human and institutional capacity of its host countries in Africa and Asia.

Muni Muniappan, Ph.D., director of IPM Innovation Lab, says there is a general misperception among scientists that the production and augmentative release of natural enemies is unfeasible and not cost-effective, especially in developing countries.

“This is because usually the cost of production of natural enemies (parasitoids, predators, and microbials) in the laboratories is compared to the cost of available synthetic chemical pesticides,” he says. “However, the establishment of the production units in developing countries builds the human and institutional capacity of the country, and all the money spent on production and use of the natural enemies remain in the country, which in turn makes the food production sustainable and economical. Moreover, about 80 percent of the amount spent on chemical pesticides in developing countries goes to the developed country that produces the chemical, and only a small amount of money stays in the developing countries applying them.”

Augmentative Biological Control in the Realm of Pest Management

The three major types of biological control are classical, conservation, and augmentative. Classical biological control (also identified as inoculation of an exotic natural enemy) involves importing a natural enemy of a pest to the infested region and working to establish a sustained local population. Conservation biological control focuses on maintaining conditions favorable to native natural enemies. Augmentative biological control involves mass rearing of natural enemies and actively releasing or dispersing them to control a pest.

Each approach has its limitations and strengths. For instance, while classical biological control requires longer implementation periods and provides lasting control of a pest, augmentative approaches are comparatively quicker and can control targeted nuisance organisms (insect pests, diseases, weeds) for an extended period but certainly not permanently.

In Niger, farmers are provided gunny sacks with grains, rice moth (Corcyra cephalonica) larvae, and two pairs of the parasitoid wasp Habrobracon hebetor in them. This low-cost process enables farmers to release the parasitoids easily and economically. A bucket is usually used to avoid the sack getting drenched during the rainy season.

Within augmentative biological control, an inoculative approach uses only living organisms (biocontrol agents), including predators, parasites, and microbials (fungus, bacteria, nematodes, and virus), whereas an inundative approach uses living organisms as well as non-living components extracted from living organisms such as neem products, pyrethrins, and Bacillus thuringiensis. The non-living components that are extracted from living organisms are known as biologically based pesticides and function by inundating the system. Currently, highly potent synthetic biochemical pesticides are also available in the market, such as pyrethroids. Since synthetic biochemical and chemical pesticides also require a repetitive application, therefore they can also be identified as an inundative augmentative approach.

The categorizations for all these different approaches may overlap in different ecosystems and circumstances. For instance, Pediobius foveolatus, an introduced parasitoid of the Mexican bean beetle (Epilachna varivestis) in the northeastern United States, does not overwinter and hence does not provide permanent management. It is released every summer in the crop fields as a source of “inoculative augmentation,” a combination of classical and augmentative forms of biological control.

Augmentative Biological Control in Action

Numerous examples throughout history give evidence to the success, sustainability, and viability of biological control in a variety of ecosystems. For just one example, the papaya mealybug (Paracoccus marginatus), is a native of Mexico and feeds on several crops such as papaya, cassava, and mulberry, causing substantial damage to these crops around the globe. Endoparasitoid wasps Acerophagus papayae, Anagyrus loecki, and Pseudleptomastix mexicana have single-handedly managed this pest wherever they are released, including in Africa and Asia.

Meanwhile, release of the native parasitoid Habrobracon hebetor at the onset of summer in the Sahelian region of Africa, coinciding with the emergence of the pearl millet head miner Helicochilus albipunctella, is an example of inoculative biological control. Malick Niango BaPh.D., principal scientist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in Niger, found this approach immensely effective in managing H. albipunctella populations.

“When you have natural enemies that are easy to multiply in mass at a cheap cost, augmentative biological control is easy to implement,” says Ba. “It works well in settings with functional infrastructure and enabling policies (incentives for biological control and reduced use of chemical pesticides). One of the challenges we faced in West Africa was how to pass on the technology to the private sector. We overcame that by working with farmer cooperatives to enable them to produce the natural enemies and sell them to fellow farmers. This requires a lot of capacity building and engagement from farmers.”

Trichogramma is a genus of tiny polyphagous wasps, measuring about 0.3 millimeters in length, and are endoparasitoids of insect eggs. Several species of Trichogramma are employed as biological control agents as part of an inundative approach and have managed key lepidopteran pests of several crops worldwide.

While sharing a success story of inundative approach using Trichogramma, Chandish R. Ballal, Ph.D., former director, of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources, mentioned that an inundative approach using Trichogramma for management of rice pests in India resulted in substantial savings in plant protection costs and restoration of rice biodiversity.

collection of parasitoids in Tanzania
mass rearing of parasitoids in Niger
Trichogramma cards in Kenya
Habrobracon hebetor mass rearing

“Rice crop in wetlands or Kole lands of Kerala state in India were earlier subject to as many as six rounds of chemical pesticide sprays during a crop season,” she says, “leading to significant deleterious effects on the ecosystem and biodiversity, as the wetlands are interspersed by a network of canals, besides being home to a large number of migratory birds. Two egg parasitoids, Trichogramma japonicum, and T. chilonis, for managing stem borer and leaf roller infestations were promoted by the local department of agriculture. This intervention was so successful that not a single spray of insecticide was required in rice during the entire season.”

When the effectiveness and benefits of augmentative biological control (both inoculative and inundative) are compared with conventional chemical pesticides, safety and sustainability are always emphasized. Nevertheless, crucial aspects—including efficacy, ease of application, and availability and viability of the commercially available organisms/products—are required to develop an economically viable augmentative biocontrol program. Similar to synthetic chemical pesticides, a successful augmentative biocontrol program requires timely release/application and repetitive use. For the purpose of ease of application, like chemical pesticides, both microbial and botanical biological control agents are currently available in various forms, such as flowable concentrates or wettable powders.

Challenges and Opportunities in Augmentative Biological Control

T. M. Manjunath, Ph.D., who established India’s first commercial insectary, says “mass production, supply, and utilization of parasitoids and predators are beset with several challenges. Being living entities, they have definite life cycles and shelf-life, and their productions require a great deal of pre-planning to match and balance the timely demand, as otherwise the valuable products may go waste.” Based on his long experience, he says, “mass-production and marketing of biological control agents should be treated as a passionate scientific adventure. Although the entire process could be challenging to initiate and function, careful training and promotion could lead to profitable commercial production of biological control agents in developing countries.”

Big challenges often create big opportunities. Commercial production of biocontrol agents has immense growth potential. Collaboration of public and private sectors and involvement of small-scale industries is the key to the successful commercialization of biological control agents in developing countries. Currently, chemical pesticides are the most commonly used method around the world to manage pests because of the rapid results and easy availability; however, they carry a breadth of health and environmental hazards. Moreover, chemical pesticides also need repeated applications similar to inundative biological control agents, and, unlike synthetic chemical methods, the use of natural enemies is compatible with all other pest control methods and does not create resistance in pest populations.

The establishment of production and rearing units of biological control agents in developing countries enable local technicians and scientists to be trained, making institutes and universities of these countries equipped with appropriate skills and facilities. Production of the beneficial fungus Trichoderma spp., which is used as a seed treatment to protect crops from soil-inhabiting fungal pathogens, and mass rearing and releasing Trichogramma spp. for control of pestiferous species of Lepidoptera (for example, Spodoptera spp.,) are examples of some of the IPM Innovation Lab’s most effective capacity-building programs.

Appropriate scaling and pricing as well as active networks of communication among businesses, research institutions, government extension agents, farmer organizations, and farmers can all increase the chances of success of this venture. Augmentative biological control creates opportunities for the local population, small- and large-scale farmers, and industries to work together and harvest monetary benefits, besides human and environmental safety. It is indeed money well spent.

Anamika Sharma, Ph.D., is a research associate at the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management, housed at Virginia Tech’s Center for International Research, Education, and Development. Email: anamika@vt.edu.

All photos courtesy of Anamika Sharma, Ph.D., Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management, unless otherwise noted.

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Fighting Nature With Nature: Scientists Mobilize Biological Control Against Devastating Fall Armyworm

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Invasive bug stinks up Australia’s new car imports with long fumigation delays

ABC Radio Brisbane / By Lucy Stone and Rebecca LevingstonPosted Mon 18 Oct 2021 at 10:42pmMonday 18 Oct 2021 at 10:42pm, updated Mon 18 Oct 2021 at 11:59pmMonday 18 Oct 2021 at 11:59pm

a brown bug on a green leaf
The stink bug poses a huge threat to Australia’s agriculture industry.   (Supplied: Federal Department of Agriculture)

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Australians who have already waited months for new cars in the midst of a global parts shortage may have to wait even longer as cargo vessels are fumigated offshore to kill an invasive stink bug.

Key points:

  • The brown marmorated stink bug is an invasive species that hides in cargo vessels
  • Each year the federal biosecurity department works to fumigate vessels 
  • This year, fumigation delays could lead to a longer wait for new cars to arrive

Brown marmorated stink bug season runs from September to April, meaning tighter biosecurity rules apply to vessels and goods from countries that have already been invaded by the pest, including the US and countries throughout Asia and Europe.

‘Devastating’ pest

Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment biosecurity head Andrew Tongue said the bug would have a “devastating effect” on Australia’s agriculture if it arrived here due to its ability to consume crops.

“They opportunistically use cargo containers and freight vehicles to hitchhike across continents and oceans,” Mr Tongue said.

“The bug’s ability to hitchhike, fly, and to feed on a wide range of plant hosts, enables it to spread rapidly when it is introduced to new areas.”

close up of brown stink bug with yellow specks on its back
Brown marmorated stink bugs are a serious threat to Australia’s agriculture industry and the environment.(Supplied: Steven Valley, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org)

The bug can hide in large numbers in buildings and equipment for months in a dormant state, before emerging in warmer temperatures to cause havoc.

True to their name, the bugs emit a foul smell when disturbed or crushed.

Last year, 232 brown marmorated stink bug detections were made on vessels and goods arriving in Australia.

Delays for new car orders

Drive.com.au national motoring editor Joshua Dowling told ABC Radio Brisbane the additional delays meant customers could wait weeks longer for new cars.

“In any given season, we will see between two and half a dozen ships carrying cars held off-shore while the stink bugs are treated,” he said.

“It usually adds a delay of about four weeks.”

The stink bug problem compounds global vehicle manufacturing chain woes, after car companies paused or downsized their semiconductor chip orders in the early months of the pandemic.

“Most modern cars have between 300 and 3,000 semiconductors. Semiconductors take 26 weeks, or half a year, to build from scratch,” Mr Dowling said.

When the global economy picked up faster than expected, car companies tried to increase their orders, but chip manufacturers had switched to producing mobile phones and laptops.

A man works at a car factory. He is wearing a helmet and a mask over his face.
Car factories across the world are struggling to keep up with demand as parts shortages drag on.(Reuters: Kham)

Two weeks ago, Toyota Australia vice president for sales Sean Hanley announced further reductions to production forecasts at its plants in Japan.

“In Australia, average wait times vary by model and by grade. For one-third of Toyota’s vehicles, the wait time is four months or less,” Mr Hanley said.

“For three-quarters of the line-up, it’s six months or less.”

Wait times of nearly a year are being experienced for the LandCruiser 70 Series and Rav4 Hybrid, while HiLux ute production was also reduced in October.

The anticipated release of Toyota’s LandCruiser 300 model was also delayed as the factory could not produce any right-hand-drive models in September and October.

Car orders increase

But the delays have not stopped Australians from buying new cars, with purchases growing 21 per cent for the month of September compared to the previous year.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industry figures show Australians purchased 83,312 new cars in September, despite the semiconductor chip shortages.

“To see an increase of 21 per cent on 2020 figures is definitely encouraging news,” chamber chief executive Tony Weber said.

“For many manufacturers it is bittersweet with the knowledge of what could have been achieved in a normal trading environment.

Scores of new car and truck imports, white, red and black,  parked on the wharf at the Port of Brisbane.
The pandemic and supply shortages have led to long wait times for new cars.(ABC News: Chris Gillette)

“Brands are working across their supply chains to deal with microprocessor issues and consumers are embracing online purchasing through click-and-collect delivery options.”

Mr Dowling said the lack of supply meant the near-new or dealer used-car sales market had “evaporated” and contributed to a bump of between 5 and 10 per cent on second-hand car prices during the pandemic.

“That’s why a lot of people in the industry are saying … if you do want to get a car, it is worthwhile considering getting in the queue,” he said.

“At least getting your order in, so that when the cars do come through, you’ve got a spot.”

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This deadly tree disease has been discovered in Europe for the first time

EuroNews

A pathway through a forest

A pathway through a forest   –   Copyright  CanvaBy Jonny Walfisz  •  Updated: 22/10/2021

A potentially deadly tree disease has been discovered in a forest in Cornwall, UK.

It is the first time the disease has been spotted within Europe and this has sparked concern among forest conservation groups. The disease can cause needle dropping, and lead to the death of branches and roots.

Although the pathogen can be found across multiple species, the potential introduction of a new tree disease once again shows the danger of monocultures – especially in reforestation efforts.

What’s the disease doing in Cornwall?

The disease’s full Latin name is Phytophthora pluvialis. The fungal infection affects a variety of trees including western hemlock, Douglas fir, tanoak and several pine species.

Until now, it has only ever been found on the west coast of America and in New Zealand.about:blank

But the first discovery of the disease in Europe came after a routine plant health check by the Forestry Commission, reports Cornwall Live.

Restrictions are being placed on an area between the towns of Bodmin and Liskeard in Cornwall to curb its spread.

“I urge all sectors to support efforts to tackle this pathogen by checking the health of western hemlock and Douglas fir trees,” said Nicola Spence, the UK chief plant health officer.

“Key symptoms to look for are lesions on the stem, branch or roots. Any sightings should be reported to the Forestry Commission via its Tree Alert online portal.”

The fight against monocultures

There is a growing movement fighting against the prevalence of monocultures in reforestation efforts.

Crop areas with just a single species lead to a heightened risk of diseases ravaging through entire areas.

International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations is on 21 September. The event demands people recognise that the replacement of a crop area with just one species of plant does not meaningfully benefit the environment.

Canva
A sole tree stands in a field Canva

“The large-scale plantation model cannot be decoupled from histories of colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy and racism,” says The World Rainforest Movement (WRM).

The WRM relates monoculture planting to historic crimes by western civilisation. “Crimes like the stealing of land and livelihoods, unlawful criminalization, sexual assault and harassment, human right violations, oppression of women, labour exploitation, environmental devastations and pollution.”

Reforest’Action, an activist movement for global reforestation, notes that movements such as the Bonn Challenge still allowed for monocultures in 45 per cent of the commitments.

“Creating a wooded field with nothing but eucalyptus planted cannot be called reforestation. For us, reforestation, in the only meaning that is worthwhile and serves all climate, biodiversity and socio-economic objectives, results in a diversity of tree species being planted or regenerated,” Stéphane Hallaire, President of Reforest’Action said.

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Widespread Tuta absoluta outbreaks on tomatoes as rainy season gets underway

Tomato producers across South Africa are facing outbreaks of Tuta absoluta, or tomato leaf mineran aggressive pest of the Solanaceae family, despite a cold winter that generally depresses population numbers.

Right: Tomasz Klejdysz | Dreamstime.com

Some tomato producers have already seen their entire tomato crop destroyed as they lose the chemical battle against exploding insect numbers, which can swiftly spill over from one farm to its neighbors. “That Tuta is a big problem and is going to become an even bigger problem is without doubt,” remarks a tomato trader. He adds that monitoring and combatting tomato leaf miner is one of the biggest costs for tomato producers, even though this insect pest was unknown in South Africa a mere six years ago. 

However, the current outbreak is not worse or more prominent than earlier outbreaks, notes a tomato specialist at a seed company. All commercial cultivars are equally susceptible to predation by the tomato leaf miner.

Over the past two weeks, tomatoes were scarce on the market, but whether that is the result of tomato leaf miner damage or whether that is the effect of a severe hailstorm that hit north of the Soutpansberg Mountains in early October is impossible to say.

Chemical resistance builds quickly
Pheromone traps for male insects are set out with new plantings, depriving female insects of seed to fertilize their eggs, but this strategy is only effective as long as their numbers are low. When the population increases, systemic chemicals are needed with simultaneous withdrawal periods. This makes it difficult to control insect numbers as they build up a resistance to chemicals quickly, tomato specialists say. Moreover, the price of chemicals to fight tomato leaf miner increased over the past few months to almost double its price 18 months ago, producers remark.

Publication date: Tue 19 Oct 2021
Author: Carolize Jansen
© FreshPlaza.com

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First finding of pathotype 38 (Nevşehir) of Synchytrium endobioticum in the Netherlands

The NPPO of the Netherlands recently informed the EPPO Secretariat of the first detection of the pathotype 38 (Nevşehir) of Synchytrium endobioticum (EPPO A2 List, agent of potato wart disease) on its territory. 

As part of the annual official survey of starch and ware potatoes, the presence of
 S. endobioticum was detected in October 2020 in 3 fields (total of 14.43 ha) in the municipality of Stadskanaal (Province of Groningen). Starch potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) presented typical warts. The pathotype was determined in July 2021 on the basis of a bio-assay (Spieckermann method) in combination with sequencing of the mitochondrial DNA of the isolates. It is the first time that pathotype 38 (Nevşehir) is found in the Netherlands and the NPPO considers that the source of the outbreak is outside the Netherlands. This pathotype is only known to occur in Turkey (where it was initally reported), Bulgaria and Georgia.

Official phytosanitary measures are applied: all 3 fields have been demarcated as infested areas for at least 20 years, together with a buffer zone and safety zone, as defined in Council Directive 69/464/EC. The production of potato is prohibited in the infested area and only resistant potato varieties may be grown in the buffer and safety zones. The production of plants for planting (e.g. seed potato) is prohibited in all demarcated areas.

During autumn 2021 the annual survey for S. endobioticum will focus on detection of this new pathotype in this area.

The pest status of Synchytrium endobioticum in the Netherlands is officially declared as: Present, under eradication, only in demarcated areas.

Sources

NPPO of the Netherlands (2021-09).

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Biopesticide helps beat fall armyworm crop pest, increasing farm yields by 63% in South Sudan

Summary

Fall armyworm is an invasive pest that has spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa since its discovery in 2017. Biopesticides like Fawligen are helping to control the pest and replace the need for chemical pesticides. The application of Fawligen has resulted in an average yield increase of 63% for farmers in South Sudan, equivalent to an increase in income of $609 per hectare.Third slideHealthy maize cobs at the end of the projectPreviousNext

The story

In recent years, the fall armyworm pest has devastated maize crops throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Chemical pesticides are currently the main way of controlling the infestations, but they can pose serious risks to the environment and human health.

Natural pesticides, also known as biopesticides, can be a highly effective alternative as they do not pose the same health risk to the environment or to spray operators, especially when used in conjunction with good crop management.

In 2019, CABI and partners tested a biopesticide called Fawligen in Kenya, which showed a maize yield advantage of 1,509 kg/ha over an untreated control field, and then designed the protocol to run a pilot demonstration of the product with 500 farmers in South Sudan. CABI provided local technical training and support to farmers as part of the first pilot study.

During the first phase of the project, farmers were clustered into groups of 50. Each cluster had a lead farmer trained to support the others and use their own farm as a demonstration or training site where they could teach a standard protocol and use of tools.

Crop yield data collected at the end of the growing season from three of the four sites – an area equal to around 132 hectares – showed that application of Fawligen resulted in an average yield increase of 63% for 500 smallholders when compared with untreated maize fields. This was equivalent to an increase in income of $609 per hectare.

A survey carried out at the end of the first pilot revealed that 95% of farmers were willing to pay for Fawligen if they could find it available at a nearby agro-dealer for a price comparable to a synthetic insecticide.

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Where there’s a weevil, there’s a way to end giant weed problem

Durie Rainer Fong -October 7, 2021 3:16 PM16Sharesfacebook sharing button 11

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Sabah’s Lake Tungog is covered with salvinia molesta. The giant weed can destroy freshwater fish species, submerged aquatic plants and deoxygenate the water. (Sabah Foresty Department pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is introducing a beetle species to its lakes and rivers in the hope of clearing them of the salvinia molesta, a type of an invasive aquatic plant.

Chief minister Hajiji Noor lauded the introduction of the Cyrtobagous salviniae weevils, by the state agriculture and fisheries ministry as an environmental-friendly effort to check the Salvinia molesta – or giant salvinia – infestations statewide.

Weevils are beetles that are often considered pests because of their ability to kill crops.

Speaking during the launching of a programme to introduce the bugs to all Sabah districts today, Hajiji said the giant salvinia weeds have infested at least 200 bodies of water such as rivers, waterways, fish ponds and padi fields throughout the state.

“This is a serious situation and has to be addressed immediately,” he said in a statement here.

He added that steps have to be taken to stop the spread of the weed in Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Tawau, Semporna, Beaufort, Kuala Penyu, Papar, Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Kota Marudu, Kota Belud, Kudat, Tongod and Tuaran.

The Cyrtobagous salviniae weevils which feed on the giant weeds. (Wikipedia pic)

Native to Brazil, the Salvinia molesta grows on water surfaces and endangers biodiversity and freshwater species, including fish and submerged aquatic plants.

The weed was first sighted in Sabah in early 2000s.

While it has the potential to treat blackwater effluent for an environmentally friendly sewage system, its rapid growth clogs waterways and blocks sunlight needed by other aquatic plants, particularly algae, to perform photosynthesis.

On the other hand, the weevil is a biological pest control agent for the giant salvinia, or kariba weed, since both adults and larvae feed on the plant.

Hajiji said the state government fully supported the various steps taken by the Sabah agriculture department together with various agencies in monitoring the giant salvinia infestation.

“I call upon the people of Sabah to join in and help keep our bodies of water and environment pristine,” he said.

At the same time, Hajiji said the people must refrain from bringing in, selling or spreading any type of non-native plant, animal or microorganisms without going through the proper quarantine procedures as stipulated in the 1976 Plant Quarantine Act and 1981 Quarantine Regulations.

Chief minister Hajiji Noor (second right) receiving pamphlets on the cyrtobagous salviniae weevils from Sabah agriculture director Dzulkifli Ghulamdin in Kota Kinabalu today. (CM Dept pic)

Giant salvinia can be bought online as decoration for guppy fish aquariums.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, deputy chief minister Jeffrey Kitingan said the giant salvinia is only one of more than 100 invasive alien species (IAS) in Sabah currently.

“The programme today is in accordance with the recommendations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which is an international multilateral treaty under the United Nations (UN).

“This convention has been refined and translated into the Sabah Biodiversity Strategy 2012-2022 and the National Biodiversity Policy 2016-2025 policies,” he said.

Kitingan, who is also the state agriculture and fisheries minister, said one of the activities and targets outlined in the existing policies is the control of IAS.

He said Malaysia has also previously encountered invasive foreign species, such as the cocoa pod borer insect which was a pest of cocoa crops in the 1980s and also the golden apple snail which was a pest in rice fields in the 1990s.

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The yellow-legged Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) is an
invasive species that poses a particular threat to the European honey
bee (Apis mellifera). This study reports on the management of Asian hornet
incursions in the UK, including the use of nest dissection and microsatellite
marker analysis (a form of genetic testing) to determine the relatedness and
reproductive status of detected nests and hornets.


The yellow-legged Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) is an invasive species in Europe. Once
established, the hornet presents a threat to native invertebrate species — particularly the European
honey bee (Apis mellifera), which is vulnerable to predation. Since 2004, Asian hornet populations
have colonised parts of France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Germany and some of the Channel
Islands. Their nests and lone individuals have also been detected in other countries, including the UK.
Pollinators are vital for our food production. By helping plants to reproduce, pollinators supporting a
supply of healthy and economically valuable food for humans, while supporting entire ecosystems.
The EU Pollinators Initiative is a strategy for Member States to address the decline of pollinators in
the EU and to support global conservation efforts.

In the study, British researchers describe the management of Asian hornet incursions, including the
use of nest dissection and microsatellite marker analysis (a form of genetic testing) to determine
the relatedness and reproductive status of detected nests.

In the UK, the Non-Native Species Secretariat and National Bee Unit respond to all reports of foraging
Asian hornets and use trajectory tracking techniques to locate and destroy nests. Between the time
of the first detection in 2016 and the end of 2019, a total of nine nests were detected. Lone adult
individual hornets were sampled from seven additional sites during the same time period.

After destruction, all nests were sent to a laboratory for dissection. For each, the number of adult
hornets, sex ratio, and mass of individuals was recorded. The diameter of the nest and each
individual comb was also measured, and the life stages present in the nest were determined.
Tissue samples from the nests and lone adult hornets were then collected for microsatellite
marker analysis. Microsatellites are segments of DNA where a short section of the nucleotide (a
basic building block of nucleic acid — an organic substance present in living cells such as DNA)
sequence repeats and are useful for measuring genetic variation.

The results of these analyses suggest that the Asian hornet has not established a population in
the UK, and that the detected nests and lone individuals are likely the result of separate incursions
from the European continent. None of the nests were found to have produced the next generation
of queens, and follow-up monitoring in affected regions detected no new nests in later years.
Diploid males (i.e. those having two identical chromosomal sets — indicative of inbreeding) were
also found in many UK nests, while microsatellite analysis showed that nests had low genetic
diversity and the majority of queens had mated with only one or two males. All nests were found
to have derived from continental Europe, rather than from Asia or elsewhere in the UK.

The researchers report such insights are used to guide real-time decision making in the UK. Data
on the reproductive status of the nest are used to inform the level of monitoring in the area
implemented in subsequent years. Determining whether captured individuals belong to one or
more nests also enables inspectors on the ground to know how many nests they are searching
for. For this reason, this research may be of interest to policymakers, particularly those concerned
with the management and control of invasive species and the protection of European apiculture

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New law vital weapon in war on destructive invasive species

The Royal Gazette

Sékou Hendrickson Updated: Oct 04, 2021 07:52 AM10

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Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs (File photograph)Related Stories

  • A law designed to safeguard Bermuda’s borders from the threat of destructive pests will help protect the environment for future generations, the home affairs minister has said.

But Walter Roban added that the Invasive Alien Species Act would not penalise citizens for accidentally having restricted species on their property.

Mr Roban said: “I just want to erase the belief that there’s going to be an effort to go around Bermuda, search people’s gardens and then fine them for what’s in their gardens. That is not what this law is about.”

“If by some chance someone, for some reason unbeknown to them, discovered a prohibited species in their possession, they have the opportunity to bring it to the attention of the department and have it dealt with without any penalty to them.

“But if you intentionally bring something here you will be subject to the law.”

Mr Roban added: “We human beings are the most invasive species on this island, so that means we have a responsibility to carry out the appropriate management and protection of this environment, which we’ve been shaping, changing and damaging over the last four centuries of settlement.

“It’s not just a ministerial objective – I, as a Bermudian resident, believe there is work that we can do to protect our environment and this Bill that I carried through is just a part of that package of protections that we need to have.”

Mr Roban was speaking after the House of Assembly passed the legislation.

People who import or trade in invasive species could face fines of up to $50,000 or two years in jail under the new law.

Mr Roban said the legislation was drawn up after months of consultation with environmental groups and the public.

He added the legislation was needed because invasive species could destroy ecosystems that Bermudian industries depended on.

Mr Roban highlighted lionfish, native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans but which has spread across the Caribbean and northern Atlantic.

The predator could eat most of the fish in Bermudian waters and destroy the fishing industry if left unchecked.

Mr Roban said that the cedar blight of the 1940s, when the scale bug killed off 99 per cent of the island’s cedar trees, was an example of the ecological destruction caused by pests imported by accident.

He added that restoration projects set up after the blight, some of which continue to the present, had cost the government millions of dollars.

Mr Roban added that casuarina trees, imported from Australia in the 1950s as windbreaks to replace wiped-out cedars, later caused coastal erosion through their roots – a problem that the government also had to combat with expensive management projects.

He said: “Some things that happened long before many of us were born – and, in some cases, before our parents were born – have had impacts that we still have to manage today.

“The chief challenge with invasive species is that they often push out the native species and when that happens it potentially creates an imbalance in our ecosystem.”

Andrew Pettit, the head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said that HM Customs helped keep unwanted plants and animals at bay.

But Mr Pettit added: “This legislation is critical – without it we don’t have the tools to manage things coming out from the horizon.”

He added that management of pests already on the island was a problem.

Mr Pettit said: “Plants are really hard to deal with and they’re going to be an ongoing battle, especially the ones that are proliferated through birds because they have a natural spreading mechanism.”

Mr Pettit added that the best way to help the fight against invasive species was for the public to be aware of the seriousness of the problem.

He said: “These species are dominating, so the more we can educate the public the more they can take on a role to actively help us manage this.”

• For more information on invasive species or to alert the authorities to suspicious or exotic plants and animals, phone the DENR at 236-4201.

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Stink bug discovery raises fears of threat to crops

By Helen Briggs
BBC Environment correspondentPublished1 day agoShare

Brown marmorated stink bug
Image caption,The bug produces a distinctive smell when disturbed

A stink bug that can spoil crops and infest homes has been trapped in Surrey as part of a monitoring study.

The brown marmorated stink bug is native to Asia, but has spread to parts of Europe and the US, where it can destroy fruit crops.

A lone stink bug was caught at RHS Garden Wisley this summer within weeks of the setting up of a pheromone trap.

The adult may be a stowaway brought in on imported goods or part of an undiscovered local population.

Dr Glen Powell, head of plant health at RHS Garden Wisley, said the stink bug may become commonplace in gardens and in homes within a decade.

“This isn’t a sudden invasion but potentially a gradual population build-up and spread, exacerbated by our warming world,” he said.

Dr Glen Powell
Image caption,Dr Glen Powell inspects the trap hung in a tree

It’s not yet clear if stink bugs are living undetected in parts of England or are rare visitors that hitch-hike in on imported goods or passenger luggage and survive for only a short time. So far, no eggs or immature bugs have been found that would suggest the bug is breeding and has set up home.

The bug has been caught only twice before in pheromone traps set up to lure it in by means of a natural chemical – in all cases as lone instances. The previous finds were at Rainham Marshes in Essex and in the wildlife garden of London’s Natural History Museum.

According to the department for the environment, Defra, the bug has been intercepted in the UK on several occasions – in passenger luggage flown in from the US, clothing and wood imports from the US, and stone imported from China.

The trap at Wisley is part of a national monitoring project led by a plant science research company, NIAB EMR, in Kent, and funded by Defra.

Dr Michelle Fountain, head of pest and pathogen ecology at NIAB EMR, said: “[The] brown marmorated stink bug represents a significant threat to food production systems in the UK so it is crucial that we continue to monitor any establishment and spread of the pest.”

Brown marmorated stink bug
Image caption,A single male stink bug was trapped at Wisley in Surrey this summer

There are more than 40 species of stink bugs, also known as shield bugs, already present in the UK. Most pose no threat to plant health and are not considered pests.

Brown marmorated stink bugs, which have a distinctive rectangular-shaped head, get their name from the odour they emit when threatened.

In the US, they can invade houses, clustering in their hundreds, and can be devastating for farmers, destroying fruit such as nectarines and peaches and feeding on a wide range of ornamental trees, vegetables and other plants.

Invasive species cost the UK economy over £1.8bn a year and can threaten the survival of other plants and animals. A Defra spokesperson said: “The brown marmorated stink bug is not a significant threat to our crops – but as with all pests and diseases we will continue to monitor any threats closely.”

Anyone finding what they believe to be a brown marmorated stink bug is asked to take a picture and report the sighting at BMSB@niab.com or via email to Entomology@rhs.org.uk.

Follow Helen on Twitter.

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Registration is open for the IPPC webinar series on Fall Armyworm Training Material

Posted on Mon, 27 Sep 2021, 16:16Responsive image

IPPC Secretariat invites interested users to register for the “Fall Armyworm Training Material: FAO/IPPC Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Guidelines for Spodoptera frugiperda webinar series. (Please register individually for all three sessions in the series)

Webinar 1: 22 October 12:00-13:30 (CET) Register here

Content: Introduction, General launch and guidelines presentation, including FAW distribution and biology

Webinar 2: 19 November 12:00-13:30 (CET) Register here

Content: Fall Armyworm Prevention and Preparedness (When FAW is still absent from a country)

Webinar 3: 10 December 12:00-13:30 (CET) Register here

Content: Fall Armyworm Response and Communication (When FAW has been officially detected and confirmed by a country)

Webinars are addressed to Quarantine and biosecurity experts, NPPOs and RPPOs staffs, researchers supporting NPPOs, producer associations, technical assistance organizations, manufacturers of technical means of control, and surveillance.

The webinar will be held in English with simultaneous interpretation into French and Arabic.

To consult the detailed program and more information, please visit: https://www.ippc.int/en/news/workshops-events/webinars/fall-armyworm-faw-training-part-1-22-october-part-2-19-november-and-part-3-10-december/…..

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