Tiny pest causes problems for local mac nut growersUPDATED 7:08 PM HST May 20, 2014Video Transcript
back for YEARS... But now -- a TINY pest -- is turning into a MAJOR problem for Mac Nut Growers on the Big Island. As KITV4's Lara Yamada reports: controlling the "Macadamia Felted Coccid" -- has now become a TOP PRIORITY. 1:07 CHRIS PHONER 27 It's begun to spread and multiply exponentially... It's been several years since the Macadamia Felted Coccid first appeared in Hawaii. Those powerdy dots, peppering trees, the insect sapping the tree from nut to root. PHONER CHRIS 53-59 It's a small little bug but it just destroys the trees it eats the leaves it eats the bark. Last year, the Felted Coccid plus dry weather, did 3.7 MILLION dollars in damage to one company's crops. PHONER BONNIE 3434- 51 It's not only affecting the nut, but it's pretty much affecting pretty much every stage of growth on the tree You see it on the trunk of the tree you see it on the leaves you see it on the branches, and they even coat the nuts as well. BI MAC NUT FIRE 244 There's no sap whatsoever. BI MAC NUT FIRE 228-30 The fire was probably hot enough where it's not going to come back. We first visited what's now called Royal Hawaiian Orchards in 2012. Fire had devasted parts of Randy Cabral's mac nut trees. It was the floods of 2000 before that. BI MAC NUT FIRE 855-01 This is not the first disaster to hit us. So, I hope it's the last, but I doubt that. RAMADAN 245-58 During the dry season the scale population is so high, and the chemicals are not working so they are looking for another solution. And Entomologist Mohen Ramadan thinks he may have found it. Meet Encyrtidae, Metaphycus. RAMADAN 410-14 a very small wasp, it's like the size of a grain of sand. Native to Australia like the Mac Nut -- it injects its larve into the MFC, which then feast on it - from the inside out. Ramadan says already being re-produced here. An they're hoping for field tests next year. A possible solution, for what's now become a devastating pest. PHONER CHRIS 230-37 We're on eggshells sometimes, just watching and waiting for the next problem. Lara Yamada KITV4 News. Ramadan says top experts and state leaders will be flying to the Big Island NEXT MONTH -- to meet with growers -- and talk about their findings and the best methods to control the problem. Lawmakers passed a bill this legislative session -- alloting 360-THOUSAND DOLLARS -- to study prevention treatment of the Macadamia Felted Coccid. Experts say... it's a START.