CDFA continues battle against pest in Imperial Valley
SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Biological Control Program, in cooperation with the USDA, the Imperial County Agriculture Commissioner, and the University of California, is introducing a new parasitic wasp as part of the continuing effort to eliminate the Pink Hibiscus Mealybug from the Imperial Valley.
The new parasite, Allotropa mecrida, is a stinger-less wasp that is about the size of a pinhead. Biologists anticipate that it will be able to pick up where a previous parasitic wasp, Anagyrus kamali, left off. Since its introduction in 1999, the first parasite has reduced the size of the infestation by 95 percent. The objective of this new parasite is to reduce the infestation even further, to a level that would establish a minimal risk of spread.
“The Pink Hibiscus Mealybug is a serious agricultural pest,” said CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. “Our success thus far in the Imperial Valley has prevented it from spreading to crops. It is critical that we eliminate the threat.”
A 100-square mile area in urban Imperial County is infested, including parts of El Centro and Calexico. The pest was first detected there in 1999.
The Pink Hibiscus Mealybug is native to Southern Asia and Australia. It feeds on both plants and crops, and it threatens nearly 30 different crops produced in the Imperial Valley.
Note to editors – A release of the new parasitic wasp is scheduled to occur Thursday, July 17, at 11 a.m., in front of the Imperial Irrigation District Building, 300 Commercial Avenue, El Centro.
At 10 a.m. on the 17th, tours will be offered of the parasitoid production facility at the Imperial County Annex building on Fairfield Drive in El Centro.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814