Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR) Tectococcus ovatus as a biocontrol agent
for Psidium cattleianum in Hawaii


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Information and references regarding Tectococcus ovatus as a biocontrol agent for Psidium cattleianum in Hawaii are provided here. For further information, contact webmaster@hear.org.


Status of Tectococcus ovatus as a biocontrol agent for Psidium cattleianum in Hawaii

Tectococcus ovatus (Homoptera, Eriococcidae) has been deemed the most promising of the biocontrol agents considered for the control of strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum). The insect is host specific, causing galls on leaves and causing leaves to age prematurely, and decreasing vigor and flowering on infected plants. It is also easy to culture and handle and can produce multiple generations per year. In 2005, after 15 years of research in Hawaii and Brazil, researchers with the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry (IPIF) petitioned for field release of the scale insect for control of strawberry guava. A federal Environmental Assessment was completed and permits secured from Hawaii Department of Agriculture and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. An Environmental Assessment with the state of Hawaii was initiated. Public reaction to the proposed release of Tectococcus ovatus has been mixed. Some opponents fear the loss of strawberry guava as a food source. Others suggest the scale insect could mutate and attack native ohia (Metrosideros polymorpha ) which is in the same family as strawberry guava. In March, 2009, the Maui County Council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting "safe, effective biological control for Maui County's forest pests" including strawberry guava. In contrast, in August 2009 on Hawaii Island, the Hawaii County Council approved (6-3) a resolution requesting a "ban on the release of biological control agents on the Island of Hawaii...for any tree species related to the ohia Metrosideros polymorpha including all species of the family Myrtaceae such as the strawberry guava." The Hawaii County Council's resolution has effectively stalled the release of Tectococcus ovatus. However, in June 2010, a draft environmental impact statement has been released as part of the process to continue to approve the release of Tectococcus ovatus in Hawaii. See the Strawberry Guava Biocontrol website (http://www.strawberryguavabiocontrol.org/) for more information. (info from http://www.hear.org/bibliography/references/9453_smith_2002/ accessed 20091104; http://www.hear.org/bibliography/references/9451_smith_2002/ accessed 20091104; http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/topics/ecosystem_processes/tropical/invasive/Petition%20for%20release%20of%20Tectococcus%20may05.pdf accessed 20091104; http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/programs/ipif/strawberryguava/biocontrol.shtml#anchor.2 accessed 20091104; http://www.reeis.usda.gov/web/crisprojectpages/198473.html accessed 20091104; http://www.co.maui.hi.us/documents/Mayor%27s%20Office/Environmental%20Coordinator/Reso%2009-035.PDF accessed 20091104; http://records.co.hawaii.hi.us/weblink/DocView.aspx?id=66985 accessed 20091104; http://www.strawberryguavabiocontrol.org accessed 20100721; info as of 2010)

References for Tectococcus ovatus as a biocontrol agent for Psidium cattleianum in Hawaii

Hawaii County Resolution 0809 (regarding ban on biocontrol agents for Myrtaceae on the Big Island [Hawaii])
Hawaii County Resolution 0809 requests a ban on the release of biological control agents on the Island of Hawaii, Including insects, fungi, bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens for any tree species related to ohia (Metrosideros polymorpha), including all species of the family Myrtaceae, such as the strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum). (http://records.co.hawaii.hi.us/weblink/DocView.aspx?id=66985)

Maui County Resolution 2009-035: supporting safe, effective biological control for Maui County's forest pests
Maui County resolution 2009-035 recognizes the importance of saving the native forests of Maui County for the water resources and cultural, biological, and economic benefits they yield in Maui County; and acknowledges the potential hazards of biocontrol and the profound danger posed by non-action at this critical juncture; and supports increased funding for required quarantine infrastructure and research for exploration, testing, and release of organisms to assist in control of Maui County forest pests. (http://www.co.maui.hi.us/documents/Mayor%27s%20Office/Environmental%20Coordinator/Reso%2009-035.PDF)

Biocontrol: Protection on a large scale, for the long run
An overview of biocontrol, multimedia gallery, and proposed strawberry guava biocontrol plan are presented by the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry. (http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/programs/ipif/strawberryguava/biocontrol.shtml#anchor.2)

Petition for field release of Tectococcus ovatus (Homoptera: Eriococcidae) for classical biological control of strawberry guava, Psidium cattleianum Sabine (Myrtaceae), in Hawaii (10 May 2005)
"Tectococcus ovatus is proposed for release into the environment for biological control of P[sidium] cattleianum in the state of Hawaii. This highly specific insect produces leaf galls on P. cattleianum in its native range in Brazil. It is expected to reduce growth and reproduction of P. cattleianum, thereby limiting spread of the weed and production of fruits available to pest fruit flies...." (http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/topics/ecosystem_processes/tropical/invasive/Petition%20for%20release%20of%20Tectococcus%20may05.pdf)

Forest pest biological control program in Hawaii
Smith, Clifford W. 2002. Forest pest biological control program in Hawaii. pp. 91-98 in Smith, Clifford W., Julie Denslow, and Stephen Hight (eds). 2002. Proceedings of workshop on biological control of native ecosystems in Hawaii. Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit (University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Botany) Technical Report 129. 122 pages. from http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/duffy/techr/129.pdf accessed 16 March 2008. (http://www.hear.org/bibliography/references/9451_smith_2002/)

Strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum): prospects for biological control
Smith, Clifford W. and Charles Wikler. 2002. Strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum): prospects for biological control. pp. 108-116 in Smith, Clifford W., Julie Denslow, and Stephen Hight (eds). 2002. Proceedings of workshop on biological control of native ecosystems in Hawaii. Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit (University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Botany) Technical Report 129. 122 pages. from http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/duffy/techr/129.pdf accessed 16 March 2008. (http://www.hear.org/bibliography/references/9453_smith_2002/)

Ecology of invasive plant species; their impacts on ecosystems of Hawaii and the Pacific Islands; and their biological control agents
The objectives of the project described here are to (1) increase understanding of invasive plants on native forest ecosystems of Hawaii; (2) develop understanding of biological agents released for invasive weed control; (3) develop biological control agents; (4) increase information on distribution of invasive species; (5) increase information on invasiveness of commonly used plants; (6) increase awareness of the hazards in using invasive plants in landscaping; and (7) increase abilities of agencies to prevent and manage invasive species. (http://www.reeis.usda.gov/web/crisprojectpages/198473.html)

Native Hawaiian forests vs. strawberry guava (video)
This video explains why strawberry guava (waiawi) is such a threat to native Hawaiian forests, and why Tectococcus ovatus is part of a solution to this problem. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pAh-At0HdM)

Strawberry Guava Biocontrol
The Strawberry Guava Biocontrol website provides resources for science-based information about using Tectococcus ovatus as a biological control agent for strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum).(http://www.strawberryguavabiocontrol.org)


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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