Two heads may be better than one: using multiple methods in the fight against Tuta absoluta

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Tuta absoluta © Marja van der Straten

Tuta absoluta is a major invasive pest that causes devastating crop damage worldwide. Insecticides are heavily relied upon to help curb their numbers, but because of problems with increased insecticide resistance and the environmental impacts of insecticides, scientists are trying to find new ways of fighting this pest.

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Alien species are the main cause of recent global extinctions

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The rosy wolfsnail (Euglandina roseais just one alien species which has led to species extinctions – initially introduced to Hawaii as a way of controlling African land snails, the species predated on the island’ s endemic snails and is thought to be directly responsible for the extinctions of 134 of these species. © Scot Nelson

Whilst many introduced alien species have little effect on the ecosystems in which they exist, others can have devastating impacts on biodiversity, causing extinctions at local and global scales. However, some scientists argue that the impact of alien species has been exaggerated, and suggest that native species are just as likely to cause extinctions. Researchers from University College London set out to determine if this was the case. Continue reading

Biological control against invasive agricultural pest slows deforestation across Southeast Asia

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Used as an effective method of controlling invasive species, biological control (or biocontrol) is the term given to the use of living organisms for controlling pests and invasive species. It can provide an effective, environmentally-friendly and cost-efficient way of controlling pest populations, helping to restore crop yields and farmer’s profits. However a recent study, focussing on invasive cassava mealybugs, has shown that biocontrol can also have some surprising knock-on effects.

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Major invasive pest found for the first time on agricultural land in Europe

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The Oriental Fruit Fly (© Florida Division of Plant Industry)

Eight oriental fruit flies (Bactrocera dorsalis), considered the world’s worst invasive fruit fly, have been found at two monitoring stations in Italy. Annually, there are several reports of this species being found in infested fruit in France, Switzerland and the UK, and one individual was found in a trap in an Austrian fruit market in 2016. This current report, however, is the first time this species has been found on agricultural land in Europe.

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Using animals in the fight against invasive species

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Could honey bees (Apis mellifera) help in the fight against invasive species?

Whilst prevention is better than a cure, it is not always possible to stop every invasive species from entering an area. In these instances, early detection and rapid response are crucial, as management is much easier while the population of an invasive species remains small. Detection of small populations, however, can be incredibly difficult. With the spread of invasive species becoming an ever increasing problem around the world, it could pay to think outside the box when trying to manage them – could animals help with the fight against invasive species? Researchers and conservationists seem to think so. Continue reading

CABI scientist helps provide a comprehensive review of research on Tuta absoluta in Africa

Tuta absoluta  (tomato leafminer) larval damage on tomato (Lycop
Tuta absoluta (tomato leafminer) larval damage on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum). Photo: Marja van der Straten, NVWA Plant Protection Service, Netherlands.

The South American tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta, is a devastating invasive pest of tomato crops in several areas around the world, including Africa where the problem is greatest.  Given the wealth of research conducted on T. absoluta, a recent publication involving one of CABI’s scientists, Dr Marc Kenis, has compiled a comprehensive review of the current state of our knowledge and pinpointed important research areas for the future. Continue reading

World heritage site saved from invasive ant species

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The African big-headed ant. Photo: Eli M. Sarnat from AntWeb

After years of effort, the invasive African big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala) has successfully been eradicated from Lord Howe Island, an island off the coast of Australia, helping to protect this World Heritage site and its unique diversity of plants and animals. Continue reading