Biological control of pests

Mrs. Sylvie Boulekouran

Vanuatu could be importing insects as part of its biological control of pests, particularly insects, in the future.

This is a vision shared by Mrs. Sylvie Boulekouran, a Biosecurity Officer who has just returned from Japan after an internship program and gaining her Masters degree.

Boulekouran who was fortunate to be part of the first batch of the Pacific LEADS program under the Japanese Government sponsorship went to Japan with the initial focus to study the behaviour of insects and their management in the environment.

Her original proposal was to understand the behaviour of fruit-flies, a common pest in Vanuatu and how to manage them in the environment and how to control them using environmentally friendly biological control agents.

So far Vanuatu does not have a specialist in the behaviour of insects, according to Mrs. Boulekouran. She recalled just after Tropical Cyclone Pam, a farmer on Tanna complaint about fruit flies.

“That pushed me to further my studies on this area so we can control this pest.”

However, she could not continue with her studies in this field as the part of Japan where she studied has no fruit flies. So Mrs. Boulekouran had to change her course.

She switched her program to the biological control of pests, particularly insects. She concentrated on the biological control agent, the Microplitis croceipes, a braconid wasp native to the US state of Georgia. This wasp is an important parasitoid of a lot of Agricultural pests.

The pest or host which she targeted is the moth, which according to Mrs. Boulekouran, is attacking vegetables and fruits around the world and Pacific including Vanuatu.

Vanuatu has been importing weed control but Mrs. Boulekouran said it is her hope to see that Vanuatu imports Microplitis croceipes in the future and see its impact on pests in the country.

The Pacific-LEADS is a program aimed at fostering young leaders who will play vital roles towards the resolution of development challenges in Pacific Island Countries as well as to further strengthen the relationship between their countries and Japan.

Mrs. Boulekouran thanked the Japanese Government for providing the opportunity to study in Japan and advancing their knowledge and skills on issues that could benefit Vanuatu.

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