story to find out more.
Research in France.
When new biocontrols are imported
Expedition Yields Potential New Control Agents for U.S. Pests
By Kathryn Barry
April 19, 2001
Giant reed, saltcedar, and pink
hibiscus mealybuginvasive pests in the United Statesmay have new
natural enemies, thanks to a foreign exploration trip to India and Nepal by
Agricultural Research Service scientists
Damage by more than 4,500 exotic or invasive species costs an estimated $130
billion each year in the United States. Giant reed (Arundo donax) and
saltcedar (Tamarix sp.) have displaced native willow and cottonwood
stands along waterways throughout the West.
Pink hibiscus mealybug (Maconellicoccus hirsutus) was recently
discovered in Southern California and has caused significant damage in the
Caribbean basin. It attacks more than 200 plant varieties, including bean,
citrus, cotton, corn, cucumber, grape, hibiscus, pumpkin, lettuce, peach and
All three pests are native to the Indian subcontinent. Scientists with ARS
Calif., and Montpellier, France, and a collaborator from the
University of California in Berkeley
spent three weeks in India and Nepal searching for insects and pathogens that
might serve as biological control agents against the pests in the United
The team collected 14 potential agents that were sent to the quarantine
facility at the
European Biological Control Laboratory in Montpellier for further
evaluation. They also set up collaborations with scientists in India and Nepal
to continue research on these pests.
An article describing their journey appears in the April issue of
Agricultural Research, ARS' monthly magazine, and can also be found on the
ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Scientific contact: Raymond Carruthers, ARS
Exotic and Invasive Weeds
Research Unit, Albany, Calif., phone (510) 559-6127, fax (510) 559-6123,