Continuing the biological fight against a hardy foe – the maize-devastating western corn rootworm

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Stefan Toepfer, Szabolcs Toth and Matija Milkovic collecting western corn rootworms from highly invested maize fields in southern Hungary (Photo: Matija Mikovic)

CABI is continuing the fight against the maize-devastating western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera) by collecting more than 22,000 live specimens of this chrysomelid beetle for further research into its biological control.

Dr Stefan Toepfer has been busy in the maize fields of southern Hungary gathering the insects, which, of Mexican origin, have invaded many maize production areas of North America and Europe – adapting to nearly all management options regardless of insecticides, transgenic maize, or crop rotation.

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Deploying biopesticides to combat fall armyworm in South Sudan

Ivan was in South Sudan to assist farmers to manage FAW

A new project in South Sudan is combatting the fall armyworm, an insect that can cause significant damage to crops, particularly maize. With more than half of South Sudan’s current population—nearly 6.2 million people—in need of life-saving food assistance, safeguarding food security where possible is essential. Launched in January 2019 as a partnership between CABI, a private sector partner – AgBiTech, CIMMYT, FAO, USAID, and the South Sudan Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS), the project is piloting the use of a baculovirus biopesticide called Fawligen.

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Collaborative effort in Kenya to manage the impact of scale insect in coastal region

Coffee production in Rwanda
Coffee is a value cash-crop for many in Africa but successful yields can be affected by scale insects including the coffee mealybug (Copyright Charles Agwanda/CABI)

By Fernadis Makale, CABI

Scale insects – such as the coffee mealybug and cassava mealybug – are some of the least studied group of invertebrates in East Africa. However, a collaborative effort has been made to address the threat they pose to smallholder farmers: despite their cross-cutting status as pests in all plant groups, crops, ornamentals, trees and weeds.

Several organisations* in Kenya including CABI, and in conjunction with the UK’s Natural History Museum, have joined forces to train up to 30 new extension officers whose role will include identifying scale insects and communicating theirs risks and how they can be managed with smallholder farmers.

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Colony of weevils safely in CABI Pakistan quarantine

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A colony of 200 Listronotus (Listronotus setosipennis) have been safely transported from South Africa to Pakistan. The stem mining weevil is a biological control agent against parthenium. CABI’s Dr Philip Weyl, with the help of Dr Lorraine Strathie (ARC-PPRI) successfully imported the weevils into the new quarantine facility at CABI’s Central and Western Asia (CWA) offices in Pakistan from South Africa.

The weevils arrived safely into their new home in Pakistan with “virtually no mortality” according to Dr Weyl. The insects have been put onto parthenium plants to start CABI’s own colony for host specificity testing of important plants in Pakistan.

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Scientists confirm first report of egg parasitoid in Africa to fight devastating fall armyworm

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Adult Telenomus remus (Copyright: G. Goergen, IITA)

A group of scientists have confirmed the first report of an egg parasitoid Telenomus remus in Africa which could prove an important biological weapon in the fight against the devastating fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) that threatens the food security of more than 200 million people.

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How a wasp might save the Christmas Island red crab

By Stephanie Dittrich. Reblogged from Island Conservation.

Invasive crazy ants threaten Christmas Island Red Crab populations, but a certain species of wasp might be able to help.

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The Christmas Island red crab is a land crab endemic to Christmas Island and Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean. Credit: John Tann, Wikimedia

Christmas Island, a remote Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, is known for an abundance of Red Crabs, a species once recorded in numbers nearing 44 million. The Red Crab has captured the hearts of naturalists and nature novices alike, due to the beauty and magnificence of their yearly mass migration from land to sea to lay their eggs in the ocean. However, in recent years, they have suffered a tremendous decline of roughly 40 million, according to recent population surveys. The cause? Invasive crazy ants, which are believed to have been introduced by a ship sometime during the early 20th century.

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