Senior Plant Health Consultant in the UK, Dr Christopher Malumphy has said some of the territory’s traditional plant species are under threat of becoming extinct.
This is because of invasive pests imported in the British Virgin Islands.
Agave Snout Weevil
According to Dr Malumphy, the Agave Snout Weevil has killed the Caribbean century plant, which grows in the BVI.
“This plant is almost clearly disappeared in many areas in the BVI because of this beetle that has been accidentally introduced here,” said Dr Malumphy.
He said the Agave Snout Weevil has been in the territory at least 10 years.
He explained that an invasive pest introduced to a new area can exist there for about a decade before it reaches a population that becomes a threat to the local ecosystem.
Meanwhile, the expert mentioned that the century plant was part of the BVI’s yuletide tradition where it was spray-painted and decorated.
But, because of the invasion, that tradition has now been lost.
“This is why it is so important to preserve and protect the natural environment for everybody’s enjoyment and the BVI,” he said.
Red Stinging Ants
Dr Malumphy also mentioned another pest that was accidentally brought into the country – the Red Stinging Ants.
He said that insect is often found at the Queen Elizabeth II Park in Road Town and was probably brought into the territory with plants.
He said persons might begin to shun the park because of these ants.
“So, it’s vitally important to protect the natural environment because it is important economically since the tourism sector sells themselves as Nature’s Little Secrets,” he reasoned.
Dr Malumphy urged persons to come on board to reduce the risks of any invasive pests to the territory and reiterated the call for persons to be careful when sourcing plants.
He along with Dr Jill Key of the Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat who were in the territory last week plan on tackling the issue on a wider scale.
“These pests; we want to identify and stop them from coming to the BVI. It is always much more effective and cost-effective to keep the pests out in the first place,” he told BVI News.
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