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Bug from Brazil to control cactus

Date Released: Tue, 21 October 2014 09:14 +0200

AN EASTERN Cape scientist has unleashed an army to wage biological warfare. In a first for South Africa, Rhodes University's Dr lain Paterson yesterday loosed the pereskia stem-wilter bug to combat the invasive cactus pereskia.

The cactus flourishes in difficult-to-access and ecologically sensitive areas. "Using herbicides and physical removal is difficult because of where the plant grows," Paterson explained. "The plant can also reproduce from small fragments; so after clearing operations the tiny fragments left behind will grow.

 "It grows intertwined with indigenous plants, so pereskia cannot be removed without killing indigenous plants too."

 This is where the bugs come in - they feed on the shoot tips. The insect, native to Brazil, prefers South Africa's northeast coastline which is ideal as pereskia is causing the most damage in these regions.

Article by : Xolisa Phillip.

Article  source : Saturday Dispatch.

Source:Saturday Dispatch