Tiny wasps released to save Hawaii coffee farms from invasive beetle
KA’U (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tiny wasps the size of dust particles could be the answer to saving Hawaii Coffee farms.
And now UH researchers plan to set a swarm free on Hawaii Island.
Tens of thousands of Phymastichus Coffea are currently being bred in a lab before a release in September in Ka’u.
The goal? Kill the invasive Coffee Berry Borer Beetle.
Nearly 50 experiments show the wasps specifically target the Coffee Berry Borer.
Researchers say this population control method is up to 50% more effective than insecticides.
“It’ll come and sit on the on the back of the beetle, and it will insert its stinger. Its angling apparatus into the body of the beetle between the wings and lay eggs in it. And then the eggs hatch. And the larvae of the Wasp eat the inside of the beetle and kill it,” said Mark Wright, UH Professor, and Extension Entomologist.
If the wasps are effective in Ka’u, researchers plan to do more releases in Kona, Waialua on Oahu, and Maui.
The US Department of Agriculture is funding about $750,000 for the project.
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