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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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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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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