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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Israel To Eucalyptus Groves: Our Bug Can Save You

Many countries will be thanking Israel as researchers discovered a natural way to combat a pesky wasp from hurting eucalyptus groves. Scientists traveled half way around the world in order to locate this wasp natural predator, in order to thwart the rising tide of damaged eucalyptus leaves.

(Ha' Several nations have already turned to Israel for information about this natural adversary. David Brand, head of the Jewish National Fund's (JNF) Department of Forestry and Development, says, "Six years ago, two species of wasps were discovered to create galls [abnormal swellings of plant tissue], thus damaging eucalyptus leaves: the Leptocybe invasa, which damages new leaves, and the Ophelimus maskelli, which damages mature leaves. Both wasps subject eucalyptus trees to continuous attack." [...]

Massive damage to eucalyptus trees compelled a team of JNF-funded scientists to launch research three years ago to identify the pest's biological adversaries. Professor Zvi Mendel of the Agriculture Ministry's Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), Dr. Alex Protasov, Dr. Zion Madar, Nitza Sapir and David Brand traveled to Australia to find the wasp's natural enemy. There, they were assisted by Dr. John La Salle and Joe Krycer, a member of JNF-Australia. "It was like finding a needle in a haystack," Brand says, "because there are dozens of pests and dozens of predators."

This pesky wasp was threating eucalyptus plants in not only Israel, but India, Greece, Italy, Thailand and South Africa as well. Once it was determined that the predator only attacked that specific wasp (or rather its eggs), Israel received the green light to release it into the wild.

They are already seeing positive results and other nations are asking for this bug as well, as a loss of eucalyptus leaves translates to loss of income for many businesses.

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