The establishment of a macadamia felted coccid colony at the ARC Plant Health and Protection

2020-01-31 10:52:00

Dr Schalk Schoeman, who heads the SAMAC research project on the control of the macadamia felted coccid successfully applied for permits to import a Hawaiian parasitoid during 2019.

While the import of the parasitoid is being finalized, researchers at the ARC Plant Health and Protection quarantine facility at Roodeplaat in Pretoria have started to rear a laboratory colony of the felted coccid as hosts for the establishment of the parasitoid and specificity experiments in future.

Macadamia branches infected with the felted coccid were brought to the ARC Plant Health and Protection in 2019, and at the moment as seedlings succumb to infection, they are cut up and placed on healthy trees to build up a population. Researchers are still in the process of optimizing the rearing process under laboratory conditions, as factors such as humidity and temperature affect population growth.

Once the felted coccid and parasitoid has been successfully established in the quarantine facility, host specificity testing will take place. Closely related indigenous species will be exposed to the parasitoid, and if no viable offspring are produced from these indegenous species an application can be made for the release of the parasitoid from quarantine.

Parasitoids will then be mass-reared and released, and thus it is very important to continue to monitor the spread of the felted coccid as this will determine release sites.

Dr Mark Wright, a Hawaian researcher in the field in Mpumalanga with Dr Colleen Hepburn