Citrus Farmers get Clearance to Sell Nursery Plants

Citrus farmers whose nurseries were affected by the Lime Swallowtail butterfly can now sell their plants to citrus growers in and outside the affected areas.
This action has been taken as a nursery protocol developed by a Task Force created to deal with the pest has been revised, and now includes detailed instructions on the procedures needed to control the butterfly in a nursery setting.
In an interview with JIS News, Senior Plant Quarantine Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Fitzroy White explained that several revisions have been made to the protocol since its creation in December last year.
“The nursery protocol speaks to keeping plants in a covered area that will allow them to be pest free after 4 to 15 days of being in the covered area, with certain spraying cycles being applied to them,” he said.
The butterfly poses a threat to the local citrus industry, as it feeds on the leaf and bark of citrus plants under two years old. Mr. White noted that research is being conducted at the Bodles research station in St. Catherine to identify any natural predators of the butterflies on the island.
“With regard to general research, Bodles is looking at putting together a protocol for overall research on the butterfly. This is in its developmental stages right now,” he said, adding that an Integrated Pest Management practice is also being developed for general field conditions, in order to control pests that might be present in the field.
The pest is somewhat smaller in size than the common swallowtail butterfly found in the island, and has two circular red spots, one on each wing.
Farmers are being encouraged to inform the Ministry or the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), if they observe any butterflies matching the description of the Lime Swallowtail.
Late last year the Lime Swallowtail butterfly was found in the citrus growing areas of Bog Walk, St. Catherine and Hounslow, St. Elizabeth.

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