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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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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Zygogramma bicolorata released at selected sites in Pakistan as biological control of parthenium

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Parthenium hysterophorus is a highly destructive weed which has invaded and is widespread in around 48 countries in Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific. In Pakistan the weed is spreading rapidly westwards and southwards across both rural and urban landscapes, affecting native ecology and harming agriculture.

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Action on Invasives short course on classical weed biological control

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Zygogramma bicolorata, often referred to as ‘The Parthenium Beetle’ feeds on the leaves of Parthenium and is already being used as a biocontrol in a number of countries

Invasive species pose a serious threat to food security, biodiversity, water resources, human and animal health, and economic development. It is widely acknowledged that integrated control is the most effective strategy in managing invasive plants where it involves the use of herbicides, manual or mechanical control, and biological control agents in an integrated way. Last month, a short course on invasion biology and classical biological control of weeds was delivered at CABI in Pakistan.

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Not Just Maize: Africa’s Fall Armyworm Crisis Threatens Sorghum, Other Crops, Too

By Sara Hendery. Reblogged from Entomology Today.

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The fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is causing significant damage to maize since its arrival in Africa in 2016, but it is in fact a polyphagous pest. Sorghum, a key cereal crop in Africa (shown here), is also vulnerable, and researchers are working on biocontrol and other integrated pest management methods in hopes of containing the fall armyworm’s impact around the world. (Photo credit: Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management)

Scientists from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Niger say that 99 percent of the media and research coverage on the fall armyworm focuses on the invasive pest’s deadly threat to maize.

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Samurai wasp found in Europe – the end of the stink bug invasion?

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The Asian samurai wasp Trissolcus japonicus; photo: CABI

CABI scientists have made the first discovery of the Asian samurai wasp Trissolcus japonicus – a natural enemy that kills the eggs of the the invasive fruit and nut pest brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) – in Europe.

Judith Stahl and Dr Tim Haye led an international team of researchers, including those from the University of Turin and the USDA Agricultural Research Service, who used DNA analysis to confirm the wasp – which is native to China, Japan and Korea – was found in Switzerland in 2017.

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