Hartbeespoort community joins effort to rear biocontrol agents

The Hartbeespoort community have been assisting the Centre for Biological Control (CBC) of the Rhodes University in the mass-rearing of biocontrol agents for water hyacinth since 2019.

Matt Paper from the CBC helping with the setting up of a rearing station.

At present, three rearing stations are set up around the dam to assist with rearing of the water hyacinth planthopper Megamelus scutellaris.

The stations are set up strategically, with one of them near Ifafi, and two on the western side of the dam near the Magalies River. “Once we get permission to release the Salvinia feeding weevil, Cyrtobagous salviniae, we will begin rearing them at these stations too,” Benjamin Miller, a researcher on the CBC’s aquatic weeds programme, said.

“The stations enable the steady production of healthy insects for release onto the growing population of water hyacinth while including the community to manage aquatic weeds on their dam. Each station is capable of releasing tens of thousands of insects a month. The CBC assists with training and provides insects free of charge to anyone interested in assisting with the rearing effort. We are also regularly releasing biocontrol agents from our own rearing facility at Rhodes University.”

However, funds are needed for the CBC to continue with the biological weed control on the dam. Promised funding for the project did not come through and the programme will now have to rely on private donations. If enough funds are not raised, the project will have to be stopped soon. Estates, businesses and individuals who want to see the dam cleaned-up, are requested to support the project and donate funds through the CBC’s fundraising initiative. Visit the CBC’s crowdfunding page https://thundafund.com/project/6716626611215230 for all the information and to donate towards the programme.
For more information contact the CBC at cbcinfo@ru.ac.za.