RIVERSIDE, Calif. California's avocado industry is worth more than $320 million annually, and has about 6,000 growers farming more than 6,000 acres of land. Indeed, California grows nearly 95 percent of the country's avocados.
University of California, Riverside entomologist Mark Hoddle is in Peru until the end of July 2010 to look for known avocado pests, in particular, the avocado seed moth, Stenoma catenifer, that could wreak havoc on California's avocados should the pest make its way to the state.
"This pest is native to Peru, and is particularly destructive in avocado-growing areas in the Chanchamayo region of the Junin District a somewhat warm and humid jungle zone," said Hoddle, the director of the Center for Invasive Species Research, who, like an Indiana Jones of invasive species, travels several times a year to locations around the world in search of invasive pests that could threaten California's agriculture, urban, and wilderness areas.
Hoddle, also a biocontrol specialist in the Department of Entomology, and his research team have collected almost 300 pest-infected avocados from orchards and fruit vendors in Peru, and are rearing out the pests and their natural enemies in their lab. Later, these pests and their biocontrol agents will be identified by taxonomic specialists, and described and named if they turn out to be species new to science.
"As part of the Stenoma survey, we are prospecting also for unknown species of avocado fruit pests those that have not been recorded attacking avocados before," Hoddle said. "These would be the wild cards in invasion biology because we don't know what they are and we don't know how to look for them, or what their tell-tale dam
|Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala|
University of California - Riverside