Study: Insect controls coffee berry borer

Jan. 25, 2010 at 12:52 PM
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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Kenyan and U.S. scientists say they have identified a predator for the crop-devastating coffee berry borer.

Studying coffee berries in Western Kenya, Juliana Jaramillo of Kenya's International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Dr. Eric Chapman of the University of Kentucky, and colleagues identified a previously unknown predator (Karnyothrips flavipes) -- a small insect of the order Thysanoptera -- that feeds on the eggs and larvae of the coffee berry borer Hypothenemus hampei, which is the most widespread coffee pest.

The researchers said their discovery could have important implications for the management of the coffee berry borer around the world. It's the first study to quantitatively prove predation on the coffee berry borer, the researchers said, confirming the presence of a coffee berry borer predator in Africa, based on molecular gut content analysis.

"Our findings provide coffee growers and coffee scientists with new insights into a biological control agent that could be conserved and augmented in coffee growing regions where it occurs," the scientists said. "This predator could make a significant contribution to integrated pest management of H. hampei."

The research is reported in the online edition of the journal Naturwissenschaften.

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