There is good news for coffee lovers and growers worldwide: A predator for the devastating coffee berry borer has just been discovered in Africa. Looking at coffee berries in Western Kenya, Dr. Juliana Jaramillo from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya, Dr. Eric Chapman from the University of Kentucky, and colleagues have identified a previously unknown predatory thrips* Karnyothrips flavipes which feeds on the eggs and larvae of the coffee berry borer Hypothenemus hampei. According to the authors, this discovery could have important implications for the management of the coffee berry borer throughout the world. Their study, the first to quantitatively prove predation on the coffee berry borer, is published online in Springer's journal Naturwissenschaften - The Science of Nature. Previous studies were based on mere observations, for example of ants preying on the coffee berry borer.
The coffee berry borer H. hampei is the most widespread coffee pest in coffee producing countries. Yearly coffee losses are estimated at US $500 million, affecting the income of more than 20 million rural households in the tropics. The female coffee borer drills galleries into the coffee berries where she deposits her eggs. The larvae then feed on the coffee berries. Because the pest's lifecycle occurs mainly inside the coffee berry, H. hampei is very difficult to control, particularly in countries which pride themselves on their organic coffee production.
During routine dissections of coffee berries in Western Kenya, Dr. Jaramillo observed, for the first time, adult thrips K. flavipes feeding on eggs of the coffee berry borer. Further observations in the laboratory showed that K. flavipes adults also prey on the larvae of H. hampei. She found that K. flavipes enters the coffee berry through the tiny hole bored by H. hampei and also deposits its eggs inside the be
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