Brazilian insect could slow growth of nonnative strawberry guava tree
The state is once again seeking approval to release a Brazilian scale insect into Hawaii forests to control the spread of the popular but environmentally needy strawberry guava tree.
Acres already densely infested
Acres of native forest areas that could become densely infested at current rates of growth
Acres of native forest not yet threatened
The state Department of Agriculture is expected to release an environmental assessment today, and the public will have 30 days to weigh in on the controversial bio-control initiative, which has been hotly debated for the past two years.
The assessment notes that the nonnative strawberry guava, which does not have a natural predator in Hawaii, crowds out native plants and animals and reduces the amount of water in soil, streams and groundwater systems by as much as 50 percent during dry periods. According to information cited in the study, strawberry guava also threatens Hawaiian archaeological sites and supports the proliferation of fruit flies, which can damage commercial produce.
"At its current trajectory, strawberry guava will take over all native plants statewide unless something is done," said Christy Martin, public information officer for the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, which coordinates alien pest responses by the state departments of Agriculture, Health, Land and Natural Resources and other agencies.