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.
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.
Eight oriental fruit flies (Bactrocera dorsalis), considered the world’s worst invasive fruit fly, have been found at two monitoring stations in Italy. Annually, there are several reports of this species being found in infested fruit in France, Switzerland and the UK, and one individual was found in a trap in an Austrian fruit market in 2016. This current report, however, is the first time this species has been found on agricultural land in Europe.
Dr Seehausen, a research scientist in risk analysis and invasion ecology based at CABI’s Swiss centre in Delémont, said a biological control agent – the parasitoid Ganaspis cf. brasiliensis – could soon be released to manage the invasive pest in Europe.
The start of 2019 brought sad news when George, the last tree snail of his kind (Achatinella apexfulva) died on New Years Day. His death highlights the plight of Hawaiian snails and epitomises the rapid decline of biodiversity on the Hawaiian Islands.
Whilst prevention is better than a cure, it is not always possible to stop every invasive species from entering an area. In these instances, early detection and rapid response are crucial, as management is much easier while the population of an invasive species remains small. Detection of small populations, however, can be incredibly difficult. With the spread of invasive species becoming an ever increasing problem around the world, it could pay to think outside the box when trying to manage them – could animals help with the fight against invasive species? Researchers and conservationists seem to think so. Continue reading →
Parthenium weed and annual ragweed are closely related members of the Asteraceae, known for their high allergenicity. The detrimental effects on human health of the more temperate annual ragweed are very well known. However, those of the more tropical parthenium weed are less well known and in fact much more severe, affecting many tens of millions of people each year.