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.
The use of DNA to detect a stinkbug invasion proposes a revolutionary advancement in agricultural pest surveillance following the success recorded on a piloted experiment conducted on farms in the USA. These interlopers attack all manner of produce, ranging from fruits to leafy vegetables. However, the adoption of DNA techniques in detecting its early invasion may help to bring its assault to a halt, as opposed to the use of pheromone traps which may only be effective after the pest’s population are pronounced.
CABI’s expertise in scientific research and development is helping to lead the fight against a global pest which has already caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage to hazelnut crops in Georgia and apple production in north eastern regions of the USA.
Known not only for its pungent smell to deter predators and its ability to ‘hitchhike’ around the world, the brown marmorated stink bug in 2016 caused $60m worth of damage to Georgia’s hazelnut (a third of its crop) and in 2010, $37m worth of apples were destroyed in parts of the USA.