Aliens Threaten Hawaiian Lehua Honey

Posted by Philip Grad on

No, we haven't been reading the National Enquirer. Aliens are threatening production of the rare and marvelous Lehua honey extracted from Hawaii's Ohia forests. However, these aliens are terrestrial, introduced to Hawaii from Brazil in 1825.   They are strawberry guava plants, an invasive species that has no natural predators or competitors in Hawaii, and which the U.S. Forest Service now believes is growing so aggressively that it is damaging Hawaii's watersheds and replacing native forests. The Forest Service is promoting a plan to slow strawberry guava's growth to allow native plants, such as the Ohia tree, to compete for space.   And the Forest Service's plan? To introduce the insect Tectococcus Ovatus, or scale insect, also from Brazil, to feed on the strawberry guava and thereby reduce the number of seeds produced and slow the rate of the plant's growth. Consider this Alien v. Predator II (or is that III?).   This plan has been studied for 15 years and the Forest Service is convinced the law of unintended consequences won't operate once the scale insect has been released. Given the problems Hawaii has with invasive species, local residents aren't convinced, and voiced their concerns at a recent meeting of the Hawaii County Council Committee on Public Works and Intergovernmental Relations.   The alternative to the Forest Service's plan is to manually remove the strawberry guava, a grueling, time consuming, and expensive task, and one that is likely to be difficult to fund in a time of budget constraints.   You can learn more about this at the Hawaii Invasive Species Council link:

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