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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Progress made on fall armyworm, but greater effort needed

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A major new report published by CABI has today revealed that losses due to fall armyworm are lower than projected in 2017 and the pest is still primarily focussed on maize rather than any other potential host crops. Better monitoring, swift responses by governments and farmers and an increase of natural enemies attacking the pest all help in mitigating the devastating crop losses it can cause.

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CABI study identifies safer options for fall armyworm control in Africa

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CABI’s experts in the biological control of agricultural pests and diseases have conducted the first major study of potential biological controls that could be used in the fight against the devastating fall armyworm which recently arrived in Africa.

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Tiny mite could prove a ‘mighty’ weapon in the fight against one of the UK’s most invasive weeds

CABI scientists are stepping up the fight against one of the UK’s most invasive non-native aquatic weeds.

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Crassula is an aquatic plant that can take on various growth forms; able to act as a submerged, emergent, or semi-terrestrial species.

Approval has been given for the release of a novel biological control agent – the mite, Aculuscrassulae – to assess its ability in the real-world environment to suppress Australian swamp stonecrop (Crassula helmsii), also known as New Zealand pigmyweed. This follows carefully controlled laboratory testing to ensure the safe, controlled release of the mite in the UK.

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Parthenium: Controlling the world’s most destructive toxic weed

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Parthenium is toxic to animals and humans when consumed in high enough quantities (© CABI)

The poisonous Parthenium hysterophorus plant is one of the world’s most destructive invasive plant species, threatening biodiversity, food security and human health across numerous countries. The herb is native to Central and South America but has spread to over 40 countries over recent decades including Australia, India, Ethiopia, Swaziland and South Africa.

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CABI releases rust fungus to control invasive weed, Himalayan balsam

26 August 2014 – From today, not-for-profit research organization, CABI, will be releasing a rust fungus at locations in Berkshire, Cornwall and Middlesex as part of field trials to control the non-native, invasive weed Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) using natural means.

Himalayan balsam has rapidly become one of the UK’s most widespread invasive weeds, colonizing river banks, waste land, damp woodlands, roadways and railways. The Environment Agency estimates that the weed occupies over 13% of river banks in England and Wales. It can reach over three metres in height and competes with native plants, reducing biodiversity. Large scale chemical and manual control is often not feasible and not economically viable.

Himalayan balsam infestation on the river Torridge, Devon, UK
Himalayan balsam infestation on the river Torridge, Devon, UK (Rob Tanner, CABI)

Using existing measures, the Environment Agency estimates it would cost up to £300 million to eradicate Himalayan balsam from the UK.

The release of the rust fungus comes after an eight-year research programme funded primarily by Defra and the Environment Agency, with contributions from Network Rail, the Scottish Government and Westcountry Rivers Trust. During the course of the research, testing in quarantine laboratories has established that the rust fungus causes significant damage to Himalayan balsam and does not impact on native species.

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