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.
Building on CABI research into the biological control of Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) using a rust fungus (Puccinia komarovii var. glanduliferae), a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded collaboration between Royal Holloway, CABI and the University of Reading is investigating the role of the microbial community associated with the plant and how these microbes may be exploited to enhance biocontrol efficacy and aid in the recovery of invaded sites. It is hoped that the findings of the study may be applicable to biocontrol programmes more widely.
The Fall Armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda has emerged as a serious threat to food security for millions of smallholder producers in Africa due to its rapid spread across the continent and extensive damage to staple cereals. At the last count, at least 28 countries were reported to be affected by the pest in Africa.
Written by Dr Urs Schaffner, head of the Ecosystem Management section at CABI Europe-Switzerland.
Over the last few years, biological invasions have become a regular topic in the news. Today the general public is probably better informed about the negative environmental and economic impacts alien invasive species can cause than ever before. However, concern about invasive species and the search for methods to sustainably manage them has a much longer history, dating back to the 19th century.
Last month the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) reported that an international measure that aims to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species had come into force (see the full article on the IISD website).