Fungi kill invasive insects

– May 20, 2019

Scientists in the United States have discovered a defence against the spotted lanternfly. They found that it lacks resistance to two fungi, Batkoa major and Beauveria bassiana. As these flies damage the harvest of wine grapes and apples, combating them is a vital concern.

Environmentally friendly defence

New insight was provided by an observation at an American apple orchard: the accidental local eradication of the spotted lanternfly Lycorma delicatula by the B. major and B. bassiana fungi. L. delicatula is an invasive species in the United States, where it affects the harvest of numerous crops. Fortunately, this species has not yet been spotted in Europe. 

Fruit harvest

The spotted lanternfly feeds on over seventy plant varieties, including apples and grapes. After these insects puncture a plant's bark, they suck up its sugary sap. As a result, the trees and vines can sustain wounds and their leaves wither, decreasing their yield while increasing fruit prices. The pesticides that are currently being applied to combat the flies and protect the crops are not environmentally friendly. Using fungi would be though; unlike the pesticides, the two fungi only affect the spotted lanternfly.

Source: PNAS