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PAPE‘ETE, French Polynesia (August 29, 2002 - Oceania Flash)---French Polynesia's cabinet has given the green light for a Hawaiian species of wasp to be introduced into the French Pacific territory to help combat a destructive fruit fly.

The Hawaiian wasp, known as "Fopius arisanus," is the natural enemy of the fruit fly Bactrocera dorsalis. It destroys the fly's eggs.

The fruit fly is a parasite known throughout the Pacific region for damaging and destroying a wide variety of fruits, hampering local production and potential fruit exports.

The first specimens are scheduled to arrive from Hawaii's Hilo Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center later this month.

The wasps will be bred at the territory’s rural development department, in Papara (southern Tahiti).

The first batch of fly-killing wasps will be released in Tahiti and its neighboring island of Moorea and later in other infested islands.

In its latest "Pacific Pest Info Newsletter," the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)'s Plant Protection Service this month warns of the Oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis) expanding into French Polynesia.

"The fly was originally detected in French Polynesia on Tahiti and Moorea in July 1996. Efforts to eradicate the species since January 1997, using male annihilation technique (MAT) and very limited protein bait application technique (BAT) have not been successful. Six MAT campaigns in 1997 reduced the (fruit fly) population and distribution to a point near eradication, but the program was interrupted for one year, and resumed on Tahiti and Moorea in early 1999," the latest bulletin said.

"The latest MAT campaign took place in April 2002. Soon after the oriental fruit fly discovery, an extensive surveillance network was established throughout French Polynesia, with cue-lure and methyl eugenol traps on 20 islands or atolls, to monitor the spread of the fly and the incursion of other exotic species. Recently, the fruit fly's presence was confirmed on Huahine (Leeward Group) (May 2002), Raiatea and Taha‘a (Leeward Group) (June 2002), and Rimatara (Austral Group) (June 2002)."

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