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US: University of Hawaii seeks OK for wasps that eat fruit flies

The University of Hawaii has applied to a state agency for permission to release wasps to attack the pest also known as "medflies" that cause millions of dollars in damage to crops, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://bit.ly/1vpi5HL) reported.

"They cause direct economic damage by reducing yield, they increase farm costs (labour and insecticides) and they lead to expensive post-harvest quarantine treatments of produce for export markets," university researcher Russell Messing said.

The gnat-size wasp is from Kenya. Fopius ceratitivorus can't sting human beings. However, it lays eggs in the young of the Mediterranean fruit fly, and the wasp larvae eat the young fly, according to university researchers.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture Plant Quarantine Branch could issue the permit to release the wasp in Hawaii. An environmental assessment by the university concluded the wasp would cause no significant impact. The findings are on the state Office of Environmental Quality Control website, and the deadline for public comment is Oct. 23. The state Board of Agriculture would have to approve release of the wasp.

Source: SFGate.com

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