Alan Gange, Amanda Currie & Nadia Ab Razak (Royal Holloway, University of London), Carol Ellison, Norbert Maczey & Suzy Wood (CABI ) and Robert Jackson & Mojgan Rabiey (University of Reading) discuss the threat of invasive species to biodiversity, including the biological control of Himalayan balsam
Invasive species are one of the main threats to biodiversity across the world, being second only to habitat destruction in causing biodiversity decline. In the UK, they cost the economy £1.7 billion annually, through costs of control, losses to agriculture and damage to infrastructure.
Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann, CABI’s Executive Director Global Operations, has unveiled a prototype Biopesticides Portal that facilitates the identification, sourcing and application of more environmentally-friendly, cost-effective and sustainable biological control products in the global fights against agricultural pests and diseases.
The CABI-led project was highlighted this week (20 March 2018) at the Biocontrol Africa conference in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of a presentation co-authored by Dr Steve Edgington, Dr Melanie Bateman and Dr Emma Jenner.
CABI’s expertise in scientific research and development is helping to lead the fight against a global pest which has already caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage to hazelnut crops in Georgia and apple production in north eastern regions of the USA.
Known not only for its pungent smell to deter predators and its ability to ‘hitchhike’ around the world, the brown marmorated stink bug in 2016 caused $60m worth of damage to Georgia’s hazelnut (a third of its crop) and in 2010, $37m worth of apples were destroyed in parts of the USA.
The influx of imported flowers in time for Valentine’s Day increases the risk of invasive pests making their way into native vegetation. Throughout January and February each year, customs and border agents have to inspect floods of bouquets arriving from across the globe to their intended markets in the US and Europe. While the pretty petals are intended to impress loved ones, they could also be carrying unwanted guests.
The soft-fruit pest Drosophila suzukii, or spotted-wing drosophila (SWD), is particularly difficult to control because of its short generation time and its very broad host range, including many wild and ornamental plants. The pest has been causing damage to fruit crop in Europe as well as North America where damages costing $500million were reported in the USA. The pest arrived in Europe from Asia in 2008, presumably in the larval stage of infested fruit. The fruit fly attacks by depositing its eggs in ripe and healthy fruit where the larvae quickly hatch destroying the fruit.
Research recently published in the Journal of Economic Entomology has offered new insight into managing the tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta) using entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN). If the pest is not adequately managed, it can cause up to 100% crop loss in both field and green-house grown tomatoes. Also causing further concern is the increasing insecticide resistance the pest has shown to be developing.