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By Patrick Antoine Decloitre

SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, May 30) – A natural born killer has arrived on French Polynesia's main island of Tahiti, a species of wasp imported from Florida with a licence to kill its natural enemy - the crop-damaging "pissing fly".

A batch of 540 of the wasps arrived earlier this month at Tahiti's international airport and were released on the island’s west coast.

The "pissing fly", also known as the cicadella, was introduced to Tahiti accidentally about six years ago via potted plants imported from the U.S.

The fly feeds on leaves, where it sucks up to one thousand times its own weight. It then rejects digested liquid waste on a quasi-uninterrupted basis, hence its name.

The wasps were imported as a result of a cooperation programme between French Polynesia's Ministry of Agriculture and the University of Berkley in California.

Les Nouvelles de Tahiti reports that the three-year programme is worth 337,100 euros.

French Polynesia's authorities say the 12 millimeter long "pissing fly is a growing concern in the French Pacific country, because of the damage it causes to crops, especially on the main island of Tahiti and neighbouring Moorea.

The fly's worst nightmare, a two-millimeter-long wasp, is harmless to human beings.

It feeds on flower nectar and has been chosen because it naturally battles the pissing flies by laying its eggs inside the pest females.

The wasp larvae then destroy the "pissing fly" eggs, rendering it unable to breed.

French Polynesia is capitalising on similar eradicating exercises in Florida, where US authorities have successfully used the predators and managed to destroy about eighty percent of Florida's pissing fly population, which was also causing significant damage to American crops, in Hawaii and in California especially.

If this first test on Tahiti proves successful, it could then be extended to French Polynesia's outer islands of the Leeward, Austral and Marquesas groups, the local government said.

June 1, 2005

Oceania Flash: http://newspad-pacific.info/ 


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