This story was originally published by Honolulu Civil Beat and is republished with permission.
Mohsen Ramadan’s name is stamped on the corner of a yellowing copy of entomologist Fillipo Silvestri’s 1914 report on Mediterranean fruit flies.
The record chronicles Silvestri’s 11-month voyage from Europe, around Africa, to Australia and, finally, Hawai’i. Along the way, Silvestri collected parasites of the fruit fly, one that was ravaging Hawaiian horticulture at the time. The then-U.S. territory was suffering, its products barred from entering the mainland.
The African wasps Silvestri introduced to Hawai’i did the job, killing off the problem. It’s an early example of biological control in Hawai’i, a scientific realm that continues to be paramount to the state’s ecological and agricultural balance.
But government bureaucracy and inadequate research facilities are now blamed for delaying potentially significant relief to industries like macadamia and coffee and possib... Read more