Biological Control of the Erythrina Gall Wasp Essay

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There is a long history of failed attempts of biological controls in Hawaii. The one ingrained in everyone’s mind is the day hunting mongoose released to control nocturnal rats in the 1800’s. However, a stricter quarantine process was set up by the State since and there have been numerous effective bio-controls. Within the last four years the Erythrina Gall Wasp has rapidly become a highly invasive pest in Hawaii. Facing no long-term control other than bio-control the Erythrina Gall Wasp’s cousin has been released throughout the islands to save Erythrina plants.
In an interview with Nicoli Barca, a field tech with the Nature Conservancy he stated biological controls are very effective when done right. An example of its effectiveness is
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The wasps’ larvae create galls in the tissue of the trees and as adults develop they create exit holes. Areas affected by the galls include all soft tissue such as leaflets, leaves, petioles and new shoots of Erythrina plants. The galls created deform the fleshy tissue of the trees, which the larvae develop within. Results of a numerous amount of galls include loss of growth, defoliation and even death of the inflicted tree. According to the Honolulu Advertiser, the EGW is the “most environmentally damaging and costly invasive species to creep into the islands in decades” (Vorsino). With no natural predators and no effective pesticides the EGW has become a critical threat to the endemic Wiliwili tree (Erythrina sandwicensis). Other plants heavily affected by the EGW are the ornamental coral trees (Erythrina variegata) used as windbreakers throughout the islands. Coral trees seemed to have been hit harder by this pest than the Wiliwili. However, scientists fear the Wiliwili could reach the endangered status without action (Vorsino).
The only short-term control of the EGW is removing affected Erythrina plants and out-planting others. In efforts to control the EGW populations’ long-term Moshen Ramadan State Department of Agriculture exploratory entomologist, went to Tanzania to look for a biological control. In 2006, Ramadan brought back the Eurytoma wasp, which attacks 95 percent of the gall

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