JIS News

The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands has reported that the pink hibiscus mealy bug has been detected in Queensbury, in the Kingston 19 area.
In an interview with JIS News, Senior Plant Health and Food Safety Specialist at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Marina Young, said it is still too early to determine the severity of the infestation and that RADA officers and researchers from the Ministry will be deployed to the area to gather data from residents.
“Households in Queensbury and surrounding areas of St. Andrew will see extension officers of RADA inspecting plants and gathering information from households,” she informed.
She noted that the infestation has so far been confined to a small area of the community, however more work needs to be done in surveying the community. To curtail the spread of the pest, the infested site will be visited, information gathered and householders and farmers educated on the impact and need to report suspicion of the pest.
Following investigation and confirmation of its presence, Mrs. Young explained that the parasitoid wasp, the natural predator of the pest, will be released in the area.
“In order to be successful in our efforts to apply biological control, we will be approaching the infested communities through the church and meetings, where we will be discussing what is expected to be done by households in order to assist researchers to achieve the desired results in controlling the level of the pink hibiscus mealy bug,” she told JIS News.
Residents of the affected community or persons, who suspect the presence of the pest on their farms or property, are being asked to contact the nearest RADA office, the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands or the pink mealy bug hotline, which is 1-888-991-5100.
The mealy bug is a soft bodied insect that exists in colonies. It is characterized by a white cottony mass on the fruit, leaf, stem or root of plants. The eggs as well as the immature and adult females are pink in colour.
A mealy bug infestation can cause deformation of fruits and leaves, ultimately leading to the death of the plant.

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