CABI scientists shed light on factors affecting the use of biological control

By Julien Dougoud. Reblogged from the Plantwise blog

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A parasitic wasp foraging for eggs on the underside of a leaf. Photo: CABI

Human health issues arising from the use of synthetic pesticides and concerns about their environmental toxicity are making lower-risk alternatives increasingly attractive. Biological control agents are living organisms which reduce harmful pest populations. Many people know of the common ladybird, whose larvae feed on aphids, but a wide range or biological control agents – e.g. predatory and parasitic insects, diseases of plant pests – are available. However, their use is still limited, in particular in low- and lower-middle-income countries. Continue reading

Invasive plants to devastate annual wildebeest migration

serengetiAccording to new research, scientists found that a number of invasive alien plant species initially introduced as ornamental plants at tourism facilities are now spreading rapidly throughout the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, posing a major threat to wildlife, including the annual wildebeest and zebra migration as well as a range of other plant and animal species. Continue reading

Kenya gets new production facility to control crop pest

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Mango fruit fly (Bactrocera sp.) (© Ko Ko Maung, Bugwood.org)

By Sam Otieno. Reblogged from SciDevNet

A facility has been launched in Kenya to aid commercial production of a protein bait to control fruit flies in Sub-Saharan Africa. The US$250,000 facility, which resulted from public-private partnership involving the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) and Kenya Biologics Ltd, will enable smallholders control fruit flies that devastate their fruits and vegetables.

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Five invasive pests cost African smallholders $1 billion every year

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Farmer clearing Parthenium from his field in the town of Gilgil George Achilla, Farmer, Kikopey, Kenya

New research by CABI reveals that just five invasive alien species are causing US$0.9 – 1.1 billion in economic losses to smallholder farmers across six eastern African countries each year, equating to 1.8% – 2.2% of total agricultural GDP for the region. These losses are expected to grow to $1.0 – 1.2 billion per year over the next 5-10 years, highlighting the urgent need for coordinated responses at regional, national and international levels. Continue reading

Highlighting forests’ vulnerability to invasive species

After habitat destruction, invasive alien species are the second biggest threat to biodiversity worldwide. It has a significant impact on livelihoods and the economy, incurring losses of USD$1.4 trillion a year. Prior to 2012 many South-East Asian countries lacked the policies and information on the presence, distribution and impact of invasive species to properly manage this increasingly urgent threat. Continue reading

The locust invasions devastating Niger

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Copyright: Panos

It is the end of December 2016, with clear skies over Niger. But as 2017 draws near prospects are grim for some 500 residents in Bani Kosseye, a village 80km from the capital Niamey. Agricultural production has been poor here, and families’ meagre stocks are expected to run out within a few weeks. People already fear famine. Continue reading

Alien species on the rise worldwide

Masai boy surrounded by the invasive cactus Opuntia Stricta in Laikipia, Kenya

New research shows rates of alien species’ introduction are higher than ever. The increase in numbers of alien species does not show any sign of saturation at a global level, an international team of 45 researchers led by scientists from Senckenberg, Germany, and University of Vienna, Austria, has discovered. CABI’s Dr Marc Kenis, based in Switzerland, participated in the study as an expert in insect invasions in Europe, and the CABI Invasive Species Compendium was used as one of the main information sources for biological invasions worldwide. Continue reading