Invasive Worm Alarm MAL, Samples Sent for Confirmation

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THE Biosecurity Department Solomon Islands (BSI) at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) are closely monitoring what was described as a very ‘invasive worm’ known as ‘Army Worm’ which was recently discovered in Honiara.

Biosecurity Director, Francis Tsatsia told Environment Media Solomon Islands in a phone interview yesterday that a sample was already sent to Australia Friday last week.

He said that the sample was from the BSI team’s recent survey conducted in Honiara, parts of Guadalcanal province including Marau in the Weather Coast.

“For now, I cannot confirm yet if it is an Army Worm but yes we did send the suspected sample to Australia Friday last week.

“Experts in Australia have confirmed receiving the samples on Tuesday this week,” he said.

Mr. Tsatsia added that currently, the BSI is conducting surveys to collect additional information on the ground – in and around Honiara.

“As soon as we received the report, the ministry will prepare its emergency response plans to contain the worm/pest from spreading further to provinces.

“The ministry will also prepare and roll out awareness in various provinces,’’ he added.

The BSI Director further warned that there are a total of 300 plants in the country that can host the worm, and these plants are from the grass family, such as corn and rice.

 “This worm is believed to be originated from North America and is very invasive. There are countries in the pacific that already have it and they are fighting to eradicate it. PNG for instance.

“For us, once it is confirmed, we will conduct surveys from Shortland Islands, Choiseul, Central Islands, and Isabel province and we’ll go as far as Malaita and Temotu province,” Mr. Tsatsia said.

He said that this worm can hatch from its lava and can fly more than 100 kilometers which posed a great threat to nearby provinces such as the Central Islands, Isabel, and Guadalcanal provinces.

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