The European Earwig, Forficula auricularia (order Dermaptera) was recently introduced to the Falkland Islands and has since become locally common in Port Stanley and a number of settlements in both East and West Falkland. Since its introduction this invasive species has caused considerable problems ranging from yield losses in horticulture to health and safety issues (eg. hiding behind rubber seals in oxygen masks or in asthma inhalers) and threats to the indigenous ecosystems. There are now worrying observations of earwigs away from settlements indicating a considerable threat to the composition of native invertebrate communities. The exact date when earwigs were first introduced is unknown but early records stem from as far back as 1997. Earwigs have become a real nuisance pest since the mid-2000s. Continue reading →
26 August 2014 – From today, not-for-profit research organization, CABI, will be releasing a rust fungus at locations in Berkshire, Cornwall and Middlesex as part of field trials to control the non-native, invasive weed Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) using natural means.
Himalayan balsam has rapidly become one of the UK’s most widespread invasive weeds, colonizing river banks, waste land, damp woodlands, roadways and railways. The Environment Agency estimates that the weed occupies over 13% of river banks in England and Wales. It can reach over three metres in height and competes with native plants, reducing biodiversity. Large scale chemical and manual control is often not feasible and not economically viable.
Using existing measures, the Environment Agency estimates it would cost up to £300 million to eradicate Himalayan balsam from the UK.
The release of the rust fungus comes after an eight-year research programme funded primarily by Defra and the Environment Agency, with contributions from Network Rail, the Scottish Government and Westcountry Rivers Trust. During the course of the research, testing in quarantine laboratories has established that the rust fungus causes significant damage to Himalayan balsam and does not impact on native species.
In March 156 delegates from 24 countries travelled to the Kruger National Park in South Africa to attend the XIV International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds (ISBCW) which was held at the Nombolo Mdhuli situated in the Skukuza Camp (2 – 7 March 2014). This quadrennial international symposium is a prestigious conference which provides delegates with an opportunity to present novel research on all aspects of biological weed control, to reflect on past experiences and discuss the way forward for the discipline and – this goes without saying – to catch up with old friendships and forge new ones. Three years on from the previous symposium in Hawaii and timed to commemorate “100 years of weed biological control in South Africa” 1, the African continent hosted the meeting for the second time in its history (the first time being the IX ISBCW held in Stellenbosch, South Africa in 1996). However, perhaps partly because of the increasingly severe constraints on funding and failure to gain official approval from respective governments/organizations, which made it impossible for many people to attend, this year’s symposium saw lower delegate numbers than previous ones. Some of the traditional “strongholds” in weed biocontrol, i.e. Australia, USA and Canada were clearly underrepresented, while the high number of European participants reflected the rapidly increasing interest in weed biocontrol in this part of the world. Sadly, apart from the participants from South Africa, only one other African country (Kenya) was represented. Last, but not least, it was an important and positive feature of attendance at this symposium that up-and-coming, younger scientists from all over the world were very well represented and the presence, prominence and enthusiasm of the next generation of weed biocontrol scientists at the XIV ISBCW seems to bode well for the future of the discipline.
CABI welcomes action that the EU has recently taken (September 9, 2013) to protect member states against the adverse impacts of Invasive Alien Species (IAS). The draft Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of IAS will help to coordinate management and preventative measures across the whole of the EU, leading to what will effectively be a joint battle against IAS – a problem that costs the EU at least 12 billion Euros each year.
CABI’s initial views on four key areas are summarised below:
A list of invasive alien species of Union concern
Identifying invasive species of European concern is at the core of this Regulation and we are pleased to see that lists of these species will be compiled based on scientific evidence. However, impact evidence, in the form of scientifically replicated studies, is currently lacking for many IAS across the EU. The lack of such data will inevitably have an impact on the strength of risk assessments for individual species.
Inclusion of chapter IV – Management of IAS that are widely spread
CABI is pleased to see that the draft Regulation highlights the valuable work that has been and continues to be conducted throughout EU member states, and welcomes the consultations to the draft Regulation, including all the steps needed to implement it. The inclusion of chapter IV – Management of IAS that are widely spread – is particularly welcomed, as these species are often overlooked due to the networks, resources and time needed to address them on an EU-wide scale.
Inclusion of all management methods, including biocontrol
CABI also welcomes the inclusion of all management methods into the Regulation (physical, chemical and biological actions), as the control and management of some of the more widespread EU weed species can only realistically be achieved using integrated pest management options, in particular classical biological control. Biological control also plays play an important role in protecting aquatic and riparian habitats, and so helps meet requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive as chemical and mechanical control options are often impractical or prohibitively expensive or taboo in such cases.
Inclusion of habitat restoration post control
It is encouraging to see the inclusion of habitat restoration post control, though it will be difficult to implement from a practical point of view due to cost and the highly disturbed nature of many of the habitats invaded by IAS.
Dr Dick Shaw, CABI’s Global Director of Invasive Species Management says:
“It’s great to see this initiative come so far and that Member States may soon have to do something about invasive species that can and do wreak havoc to biodiversity and their environments. There will be a lot of horse trading to come but I believe the will is there to make a change in the face of such a major and cross-cutting threat.”