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Invasive species threaten local crops

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - Little critters have been invading our island's borders for years and without the ability to respond quickly they pose great threats to our islands farming industry.

When the brown tree snake slithered it's way to Guam it decimated the island's bird population. When the scale bug infiltrated our borders 10 years ago it wiped out 90% of the island's fandango palm trees. Then there were the rhino beetles feasting on Guam's coconut trees and two years ago the fire ant arrived and multiplied. According to UOG entomologist Aubrey Moore there's more unwelcomed guests that are calling Guam home that could post a threat to the island's farming industry.

"In the last year or so several potentially important pests have come in the first being the eggplant mealy bug it doesn't just attack eggplants it attack many other crops," said Moore.

This is the first known sighting in the Pacific of the mealy bug which has no predators or parasites to control it and could cause a huge problem for our islands eggplant industry, but that's not the only critter causing concern. Moore said, "More recently we've got the brown marmorated stink bug it's a pest it's a pest of several crops we also got a beetle its called the spotted cucumber beetle as the name suggests it feeds on cucumbers but also many other plants."

Moore estimates that over the last decade the amount of invasive species coming into the island is one per day and while not all survive, the island still needs to better its defense against invasive, saying, "There is no money in hand to deal with invasive species when they come in you know the ideal is you have early detection and then you have rapid response we are really not doing any rapid response.

"Yyou would think there would be a pot of money set aside for emergencies emergency actions that are required to get rid of invasive species as they come in but we don't have that we are basically building a fire department every time we spot a fire."

A round table meeting has been scheduled to address invasive species on Monday at the Guam Legislature at 2pm.

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