By the time it was discovered in Hawaiʻi in 2016, this invasive pest had already damaged 2,000 acres of rangeland. A scant eight generations later, the Twolined Spittlebug (TLSB) had expanded its range to more than 176,000 acres.
In highly infested areas where nymph density exceeded 50/m2, the result was nearly 100% die back of key range forages, including Kikuyu and pangola grasses – and their loss exposed the land to invasive plants like Pamakani, wild blackberry, and fireweed. Livestock producers faced devastating economic losses.
Fast forward to today. Extension’s Twolined Spittlebug Team has released “Twolined Spittlebug Tool,” a new reporting and decision-support tool for the management of TLSB in Hawaiʻi. The smartphone app allows users to learn about and correctly identify TLSB, giving landowners the ability to locate, map, and manage outbreaks on their land. Users can also assist Extension, as citizen-scientists, by using the app’s reporting tool to geolocate sightings of the pest.
“The app has four main features,” explains Mark Thorne. “First, an information guide that provides an overview of TLSB biology and ecology. Next, it helps users identify TLSB in the field and distinguish it from other, non-pest species. Third, users can report sightings of TLSB. Fourth, it allows users to determine the size of the TLSB population, and then, based on the potential damage threshold calculated, select from a series of integrated pest management decisions.”
The team, which includes Mark Wright, Shannon Wilson, Daniel Peck, and Melelani Oshiro, notes the reports include a geo-referenced picture and basic details about the habitat and geographical location of the pest. The reported data is then captured in a database and displayed on a web-based mapping tool. Users have the option to enter data on TLSB population density and provide estimates on spatial extent and observed damage in their report. Data on TLSB populations is determined by following sampling protocols provided in the fourth tool.
“We spent two years drafting content and working with developers to get the app released, and we’re confident it will facilitate tracking and documenting the spread of this pest and lead to better pest management decisions for rangeland managers,” says Mark.
To keep track of TLSB sightings, the team has created an administrative TLSB website that displays a map of TLSB sighting reports by app users.
Visit the Google Play store or Apple store to download the app.