Make Way for Macadamia

  • 30 August 2018
  • Author: Frederika Bain
  • Number of views: 9086
Make Way for Macadamia

Mark Wright (PEPS) was interviewed for a Civil Beat article on efforts to control the macadamia felted coccid, a pest of macadamia that can suck the trees dry of sap, killing them. Mark is one of the state’s foremost researchers on the coccid and says that the insect is taking its toll on the industry because there hasn’t been as much effort to combat it compared with other pests such as the coffee berry borer. There are two hopeful developments, however: a Macadamia Tree Health Initiative is in this year’s Farm Bill, which could generate funding through USDA for managing the pest. Even more promising, says Mark, is the newly discovered Metaphicus sp. wasp that is being tested as a biocontrol agent of the coccid. The adult lays its eggs in the coccid’s body, and the newly hatched larvae eat their way out, as in this image by D. Zarders; Mark comments, “It’s kind of like that old movie Alien where the alien bursts out of the guy’s chest.” Researchers are in the process of confirming that the wasp will not harm any non-target species in the Islands.