Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR) Leucaena leucocephala as a biocontrol target in Hawaii

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Information and references regarding Leucaena leucocephala as a biocontrol target in Hawaii are provided here. For further information, contact webmaster@hear.org.

Biocontrol agent: Heteropsylla cubana
Status in Hawaii: Heteropsylla cubana, the leucaena psyllid was discovered in Hawaii in 1984. This psyllid was causing extensive defoliation of Leucaena leucocephala. Ranchers who relied on leucaena as fodder in marginal lands were concerned, and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture initiated a search for natural enemies of the psyllid in Trinidad and Tobago. Conservationists who considered leucaena a pest initially objected to efforts to control the psyllid, but as leucaena stands opened up, broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus) invaded the understory. Broomsedge provided fuel for more intense and extensive wildfires which threatened remaining pockets of native vegetation in lowland mesic areas. Eventually, opposition to control of the leucaena psyllid weakened, and Psyllaephagus yaseeni, a nymphal parasite of the psyllid, was released in Hawaii in 1987 and 1988.

The Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk (HEAR) project is currently funded by the Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN) of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) through PIERC (USGS) with support from HCSU (UH Hilo). More details are available online. Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN)National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII)

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