By Monique Washington
It is critically important for farmers and agriculture workers to watch for crop-destroying pests, Jeanelle Kelly, Quarantine Officer at the Department of Agriculture Quarantine Division on St. Kitts and Nevis.
At a one-day workshop at the Department of Agriculture in Prospect, Kelly discussed the importance of awareness and surveillance and collecting accurate information about crop-destroying pests.
“Surveillance is very important in the agriculture sector,” Kelly explained. “It is important to collect accurate information and record that data to help us with our objectives in the agricultural sector. That includes detecting the presence of any quarantined pest that we are concerned about. We also use this data to determine whether there is a pest free area or not.”
Topics discussed during the workshop focused on detection techniques, insect capture methods, budget preparation, public awareness and the Anastrepha oblique better known as the West Indian fruit flies surveillance. Kelly noted that the West Indian Fruit Fly is currently in St. Kitts.
“That (Surveillance) is an area that we want to expand. We do have a surveillance program in St Kitts at the moment,” Kelley said. “We want to expand, share and get a surveillance program in Nevis to determine what fruit flies if in any are present and what mitigation methods we can engage to suppress and eradicate those pests.”
The adult West Indian fruit fly is a medium-sized yellow-brown fly. The mesonotum is 2.6–3.3 mm long, yellow-orange, lateral stripe from just below transverse suture to scutellum, and scutellum pale-yellow; pleura yellow-brown, a stripe below notopleuron to wing base and metapleuron paler; metanotum orange-yellow. The sides are usually somewhat darkened. Macrochaetae dark brown; pile predominantly dark brownish except for a pale-yellow pile of median thoracic stripe
Shakema Hazel of the Department of Agriculture in St Kitts also gave a presentation at the workshop.
She noted there are more than 5000 different fruit flies, but only 500 are deemed to be a pest. She added that these flies mostly attack mangoes, carenbolla, guava or anything it can feed on once it’s in season.
Nevis Senior Quarantine Officer Qunicy Bart said Quarantine Division “will try to develop surveillance programs to ensure that our boarders are protected .”“This is only the first step. The second will be implementation,” he concluded.
Note: This story also appeared in today’s issue of The St. Kitts and Nevis Observer.