African tulip tree biocontrol arrives in Vanuatu

A team from New Zealand’s Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research (MWLR) is now in Vanuatu to help biosecurity authorities control and manage the invasive African tulip trees.

Biosecurity Vanuatu is introducing a weed-busting mite and a leaf-mining flea-beetle that will reduce the spread of African tulip trees and the damage they cause to native plants.

MWLR Coordinator Temo Talie said, “When we arrived in Port Vila over the weekend the Biosecurity Vanuatu met our MWLR team and we went straight to the quarantine facility to introduce the mite to some African tulip trees. This is the first step in a mass rearing and release programme in Vanuatu. The mite forms abnormal growths on leaves and will stop new growth and the beetle will remove leaves from the plants.”

The controlling measure is also being carried out in other Pacific countries as part of efforts to tackle the African tulip tree problem and is funded and supported by Aotearoa New Zealand.

The tulip tree is considered one of the 100 worst alien invasive species in the world.

It was first introduced to the Pacific Islands, including Vanuatu, as a decorative plant, but it is a real threat to biodiversity across the region.


Photo supplied Caption: A biosecurity officer releases a busting mite and beetle to the tulip tree.



Tensly Sumbe