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Pakistan hails the 'destroyer'

An Australian beetle, known as the "destroyer" is in the front line of Pakistan's offensive against the devastating mealybug.

Mealybugs, small, sap-sucking insects, have destroyed over three million bales of the country's cotton - around seven million metric tonnes - since it was first discovered in the country in 2005. Its indiscriminate appetite means it is also a threat to many other crops, including tomato, aubergine, okra, chilli and wheat. Pakistan is the world's fourth-largest cotton producer, with the fluffy fibre accounting for around 60 per cent of export revenue.

Trial plots in a CABI (Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International)-led project, funded by Pakistan's Ministry of Food and Agriculture, alerted researchers to the usefulness of Crtyptolaemus montrouzieri, the "mealybug destroyer". It is now being mass produced and is being released across Pakistan. As well as protecting yields, it is hoped the beneficial insect will allow farmers to move away from use of expensive pesticides.

Date published: November 2008

 

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