55 ALIEN SPECIES CHEWING UP PALAU CROPS

KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon/Marianas Variety, Jan. 2) - Palau has 55 species of agricultural pests, according to the Draft National Report on Invasive Alien Species in the Republic of Palau.

Local fruits and vegetables are host to agricultural pests: banana, mango, betel nut, taro, beans, breadfruit, carambola, cassava, cabbage, coconut, corn, cucurbits, eggplant, guava, mountain apple, okra, orange, sugarcane, sweet potato and tropical almond.

The lists of pests include the oriental fruit fly, the breadfruit fly, the spiraling white fly, the Chinese rose beetle, the coconut scale and the mango fruit fly.

The oriental and breadfruit fly target guava, mango, orange and breadfruit.

Currently, the Bureau of Agriculture is testing the country’s betel nuts if they also host these fruit flies.

The spiraling white fly prefers bananas, cassava and guava while the Chinese rose beetle likes bananas, taro, beans, eggplants, okras and sugarcane.

Taro hosts the hornworm, melon aphid, spider mite and the taro planthopper.

For betel nuts, the pests are the coconut scale, New Guinea sugarcane weevil, wax scale and termites.

Robin DeMeo, conservationist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, said addressing the problem of the agricultural pests could greatly enhance the capabilities of the local agriculture sector.

She said getting rid of these pests, particularly the fruit flies, can open up opportunities for exporting agricultural products such as taro, sweet potato, cassava and banana.

January 2, 2003

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