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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, April 20, 2024


Hibiscus blossoms are beginning to reappear across St. Thomas, thanks to a successful effort to eradicate the pink hibiscus mealybug.
By mass-producing two species of wasps in locally grown pumpkins at the agriculture station on St. Thomas, the battle against the hibiscus mealybug is being won, according to reports on Radio One and in the Daily News.
The little stingless wasps lay their eggs in the larva of the mealybug, which causes them to die.
The pink hibiscus mealybug was first seen in Grenada in 1994 and has spread across the Caribbean. It affected not only hibiscus blossoms but fruit trees too, including mango and soursop. The mealybug is resistant to pesticides, which is why the wasp-fighting program was originated.
The small staff at the agricultural center put a great effort into this project, not only because of the regional threat but also to avoid a stateside infestation.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which established the insectary in St. Thomas, has released the mass-produced wasps in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and several Caribbean islands.
The Daily News quotes Dale Meyerdirk, a USDA biological control specialist, as saying he hopes to get another year of funding for the hibiscus mealybug program and then wants to move into researching natural enemies of the papaya mealybug where it originated in Central America.

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