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Sep 29, 1999

Pink Hibiscus Mealy Bug presence confirmed

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The fears of the Ministry of Agriculture have been realized. Today a specialist from Barbados confirmed that the Pink Hibiscus Mealy Bug is in Belize. As they await the arrival of biological agents, beetles and wasps, to control the pest, the Ministry is launching an aggressive media campaign, hoping to obtain the public’s cooperation, a vital element to controlling the damage of the bug.

Marcelino Avila, P.S., Min. of Agriculture

“If we were to have serious problems with this pest, and the effect on agriculture, our whole economy would be severely weakened or crippled. And this is how serious it is.”

Orlando Sosa, Entomologist

“We are urging persons who purchase plant material, fruits and vegetables, that they closely inspect their materials before taking it to the islands. We cannot at this moment make a restriction on those persons but we are depending fully on the public. We hope they can cooperate in that respect.

At the moment we are going to be releasing the bugs. They have not determined the quantities we would need to release but we are expecting somewhere around thirty-five thousand bugs. This bug is capable of eating about two hundred and fifty mealy bugs and they can reproduce just as fast as the mealy bug as well.”

Marcelino Avila

“We are optimistic but that does not mean we are going to leave that up to the blessings of God. We will mobilize all resources to make sure that it is contained.”

The Ministry of Agriculture is working closely with the International Regional Organization for Plant and Animal Health for the nine Central American countries and has alerted them of the presence of the pest and control mechanisms. The biological agents have no negative effects on the environment or human health. If you suspect your plants have the Pink Hibiscus Mealy Bug, inform the agricultural office in your area immediately. Officials from the Ministry suspect that the pest was smuggled in from another country by air. The mealy bug originated in the Asia Pacific.

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