|Entomologist concerned about new pests in TCI|
|Written by Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA)|
|Thursday, 24 May 2012 17:22|
The Ministry of Environment and Home Affairs, through the Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs, recently requested the technical assistance of Dr. Christopher Malumphy, Senior Entomologist of the Food and Environment Research Agency, to survey various places on Providenciales to determine if there are insects that are not yet recorded and ascertain if they pose danger to existing plants and to the agriculture sector.
Malumphy, along with other British Researchers, Martin Hamilton, Marcella Corcoran, Dr. Paul Green and Dr. Martyn Ainsworth from the Royal Botanic Garden(RBG)-Kew and two graduate students, Alexander Hudson and Jennifer Mark from the Imperial College London, have primarily visited the Turks and Caicos Islands in connection with the Caicos Pine Recovery Project, which is being funded by the U.K. Overseas Territories Environment Program.
The Caicos Pine project is jointly implemented by the DEMA and the Department of Agriculture, with support from the RBG-Kew, U.K. and other partners such as U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Defense and the Nature Conservancy. The Caicos Pine project is efficiently managed by Bryan Manco.
Malumphy is concerned with the number of potentially new insect pests in the territory.
Insect-specimen from Lignumvitae (Guaiacum sanctum), White mangrove (Lagunculariaracemosa), Black mangrove (Avicenniagerminans), Giant Milkweed (Calotropisprocera), Sea Grape (Cocolobauvifera), Croton (Odiaeumvariegatum), Copperleaf (Acalyphawilskesiana), Guava (Psidiumguajava), Akee (Blighiasapida), and other plant species were collected and preserved in alcohol.
A few dozen potentially new insect species were also collected from North Caicos, Middle Caicos and Pine Cay. In the past, Malumphy has identified major pests in the territory, including the infamous Pine Scale insect that is now ravaging the pine yards on Middle and North Caicos, and Pine Cay.
Insects and pests such as mealy bugs, scale insects and other pests threaten the natural landscape and more importantly pose a danger to agricultural crops. Most of the pests are believed to be introduced through the importation of plants and soil into the territory.
A crucial part of controlling pests begins with ascertaining the identity and biology of the insect, because not all insects are detrimental to plants. As such, the work of Malumphy, which identifies the insects, is of paramount importance so that strategic planning could be developed and proactive measures could be taken by the government as well as the community to assist in alleviating the effects of such pests that could impact our growing agricultural sector.
A complete technical report about the specimen collected by Malumphy will be made available after the analysis is completed. The report will also showcase the identification of insects and pests and its potential impact on the environment and the agricultural sector.
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