Exciting news out of Kenya, a predator of the voracious and devastating coffee berry borer has just recently been discovered. Scientists are hopeful that the newly discovered insect can help control outbreaks of the borer, which can destroy whole fields of coffee plants.
The predator is from the family Thysanoptera (literally “Thunder Bug!” – I smell a new Marvel comic series in the making). The hope is that the insect can be cultivated and used as a natural form of pest control. The insect eats the larva and eggs of the coffee borer.
It is amazing to me that we are still discovering new species, and helpful ones at that. It demonstrates the importance of not only habitat protection, but the need for scientific study of ecosystems at the minute level. In that vein, there is a very cool article in the most recent issue of National Geographic called “Life in a Cubic Foot” which shows the amazing number and variety of life forms found in a cubic foot of space in various ecosystems. You can check it out here.
Let’s just hope the thunder bugs don’t turn all malevolent and eventually enslave us all as inevitably happens in science fiction and The Simpsons. In the meantime, happy hunting Thysanoptera!
I had to dig out this quote in response:
“Isn’t this a little short sighted? Won’t the lizards become an even bigger problem?”
“Then we’ll just release wave after wave of Chinese Needle Snakes.”
“Aren’t the snakes even worse!”
“That’s why we’ve prepared a special gorilla that feeds on nothing but needle snakes.”
“Then we’ll be overrun by gorillas!!!!”
“No Lisa, that’s the beauty of it. Come winter, they’ll all freeze to death.”