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October 6 1997

Trees Saved: A Successful Biological Enemy for the Peach Stem Aphid Introduced in Yemen
“This is a wonderful insect. It has devoured the brown peach stem aphid. My trees are now safe,” said Naji, a farmer in the Bait Bows area, to the south of Sanaa city. The farmer indicated the Pauesia antennata, some sort of a fly, which is a bilogical and natural enemy of the aphid. The Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization’s office in Sanaa have found and bred the fly. They have distributed 40,000 pauesia antennata to the farmers during July 1997. They have done their job. During 1996, the aphid destroyed thousands of trees pushing many farmers bankrupt. “At first, we used chemical sprays to stop the aphid. We sprayed 4,023,981 trees during 1996. It worked, but for only a short time. Then we introduced chemicals, injecting them into the soil around the roots of the trees, giving them more resistance. Those efforts gave us the time we needed to find a biological enemy for the aphid,” said Shahid Mahdi, FAO representative.
The biological predator of the aphid was first discovered by the IIBC of London. This was the Pauesia Antennata, which was found in Pakistan. Some 300 specimen of this insect arrived in Yemen on 21/1/97. Then interaction between this insect and aphid was checked and re-checked in the laboratory of the Plant Protection Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with experts form the FAO. Then a limited field application was carried out. By the middle of 1997, it was established that the pauesia antennata was the sought-after natural defender against the aphid.
Today there are two questions of concern;     1) Are there side effects to the introduction of the Pauesia antennata into the Yemeni habitat?     2) Once this insect devours the aphid, what will it eat? The FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture are fully aware of these questions and possibly others. At the same time, training courses for extension service are being held.