Falklands : RESEARCH INTO BIOLOGICAL EARWIG CONTROL IN THE FALKLANDS APPROVED BY ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITTEE
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 05.05.2013 (Article Archived on 02.06.2013)
At a public meeting held on 15 April 2013 Dr the Hon Barry Elsby, MLA said that FIG was looking into a biological method of controlling European Earwigs.
RESEARCH INTO BIOLOGICAL EARWIG CONTROL IN THE
FALKLANDS APPROVED BY ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITTEE
At a public meeting held on 15
April 2013 Dr the Hon Barry Elsby, MLA said that FIG was looking into a
biological method of controlling European Earwigs. On Wednesday morning the Environmental
Committee approved funding into the research.
The committee discussed a paper by
Dr Maczey of the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI) to
outline a revised plan to support the biological control of earwigs, noting the
first year Phase 1 testing costs.
Dr Maczey’s paper stated that the
Environmental Committee should recommend that Executive Council approve the
provision of Environment Planning Department funds from the current financial
year towards the host range testing of biological control agents for the
potential control of earwigs in Stanley and approves the principle of further funds
being made available next financial year from the Environmental Studies Budget
to complete the Phase 1 work.
Including a Summary of Financial
Implications 2012/13: 2013/14, the paper earmarks £15,346 (from existing dept
budgets) £10,000 (provisionally from ESB).
The funding is necessary because
European Earwigs have increased in numbers (based largely on anecdotal evidence
and surveys) since their accidental introduction to Stanley in the early 2000s.
Earwigs have a nuisance impact as well as decimating many garden vegetable crops.
Dr Norbert Maczey of CABI visited
the Falkland Islands last year to produce a feasibility study on the potential
use of biological control agents. He has prepared a revised concept note for
the biological control of earwigs. Dr
Maczey describes Stanley earwig numbers as being an ‘epidemic’ compared to
their natural habitat in Europe and Asia.
CABI regard the European earwig as
a promising target species for biological control in the Falkland Islands. Off
the shelf solutions using parasitoid tachinid flies are readily available and
have been outlined on a number of occasions to Environmental Committee. As
there are no other native Dermaptera invertebrate species present in the
Falkland Islands, the risk of non-target effects is considered very low. To
narrow down the host range specificity of both control species, closely related
Dermaptera and in addition further species belonging to other taxonomic orders
need to be tested.
While CABI stress there is currently
no evidence that any side effects are likely to materialise, they propose to
test for non-target impacts through the phase one study as detailed in the
concept note attached at appendix 1 of this paper.
CABI plan to obtain specimens of
both species of tachinid parasitoids from areas with a climate similar to that
of the Falklands (Scotland/northern England) and bring these into cultivation
at CABI’s facilities in Europe. Host range testing should be very limited and
will comprise of 2-3 earwig species and single test species from other orders
closer related to Dermaptera.
Added to this, CABI can conduct
the necessary research on earwigs and the two associated parasitoid fly species
including cultivation, and host range testing by delivering the following work
packages such as Carrying out collection of the tachnid
parasitoids Triarthria setipennis and Ocytata pallipes from sites
in Northwest Europe climate-matched to the Falkland Islands’ Transport cultures
to specialist facility for further assessment and cultivation in Egham, Surrey
or alternatively establish cultivation at Delemont, Switzerland.
next work package is to conduct
proposed host specificity studies on key non-target species using high-level
containment infrastructure in Egham or Delemont. Then application to the
appropriate bodies for the eventual release of Triarthria setipennis and/or
Ocytata pallipes if appropriate.
If cultivation and testing is
successful and approved by FIG, the second phase of the study would involve the release
of agents at suitable locations in Stanley and possibly MPA during two
consecutive summers, the production of an in-depth project report on Triarthria
setipennis and/or Ocytata pallipes as a natural control agent for
the European Earwig Forficula auricularia.
Reported levels of earwig
infestation in Stanley have been high in the past few months and it is clear
that this problem is a continuing concern to many households and businesses
such as Stanley Growers. CABI has
indicated that it is willing and able to devote the necessary resources to
undertake the Phase 1 work with immediate effect, but is unlikely to hold this
offer open indefinitely.
Total funds required for Phase 1
laboratory cultivation and testing research are £25,346. This work would be
undertaken from May to October 2013 in Europe. If successful, consideration
would be given to the release of control agents as early as November of this
year. This would be subject to further consultation and approvals.
Through a combination of savings
in salaries and payments to Gypsy Cove Wardens the Department is projected to
underspend its budget this financial year. Subject to Treasury and Members agreement
to vire finds it will be possible to part fund Phase 1 this year, with the
remaining funding coming from next year’s Environmental Studies Budget and if
agreement is not forthcoming it is uncertain when Phase 1 might commence as it
is unlikely that next year’s ESB could bear the full cost without impacting on
other important projects.
It was clear from the biological
control feasibility study conducted by CABI that the biological control of
European earwigs has an excellent chance of success in the Falkland Islands. It
is also clear that the public are likely to support any initiative to reduce the
impact of earwigs if it is deemed safe with no potential side effects.
The phase one testing phase is
both a feasibility test and confidence building exercise to prove that the fly
species considered for the control of earwigs will work effectively in the
Falkland Island climate and conditions, and will not have any impact on native
or commercial insect of plant species present in the Falkland Islands.
CABI is available to commence
Phase 1 now and, subject to Treasury and Members approval, funding is also
Financial Implications are that in
2012/13: 2013/14: £15,346 (from existing dept budgets) £10,000 (provisionally from ESB) would be needed.