Scientists at the Nairobi-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) have turned to wasps to fight Tuta absoluta, a highly destructive tomato pest that was detected for the first time in Africa in 2008 and has since spread rapidly across the continent.
The wasps have been imported from Peru, the native home of the pest, and are being introduced outside its origin for the first time.
The wasp, known scientifically as Dolichogenidea gelichiidivoris, controls the tomato pest by laying its eggs inside it. The eggs eventually emerge as adult wasps thereby killing the larvae of the pest.
“The introduction of a natural enemy for Tuta absoluta is especially significant in view of enabling Africa tackle the rising threat of invasive species, and their dramatic effect on agriculture and livelihoods across the continent,” Sunday Ekesi, the Director of Research and Partnerships, at Icipe said in a statement on Friday.