Bugs are silent assassins that are sweeping through pastures on the Big Island, moreover, leaving a swath of destruction in its wake. The invasive two-lined spittlebug was first spotted in a part of the Big Island in 2016. Since then, tragically, it has done a significant amount of damage.
Bugs Destroying Pastures
“In fact, It is completely decimating our mid to high-elevation pastures in Kona,” said Carolyn Wong. Wong is a grazing land management specialist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“There are indications of kikuyu grass that have died from spittlebug. Moreover, you can see the leaves are still intact. Unfortunately, it is all dead and brittle. If you try and pull on it, it’s just all dead,” she said, as she was pointing out an affected section of pasture.
Ranchers on the Big Island of Hawaii are in Despair
Unfortunately, the ranchers have watched the invasive insect ravage large areas on Hawaii Island’s west side. Moreover, the summer is the spittlebug’s peak season.
These tiny insect piggybacked on imported plants. They came from the southeastern part of the U.S. This is what agriculture experts are suspecting.
They suck nutrients and fluids from grass cattle to graze on. Moreover, what is on the ground cover that is weak, brittle, dead, or dying.
Bugs are Demolishing Forage Grasses
“Moreover, Kikuyu grass is one of the most significant forage grasses that we have in Hawaii. Thus, it supports probably around 70% of the livestock in the state. Moreover, it’s highly susceptible to two-lined spittlebug,” said Mark Thorne. He is a range and livestock specialist with the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture.
At an alarming rate, the spittlebug population is growing. In fact, the insects have infiltrated more than 176,000 acres of ranch and pasture land.
The pasture’s ecosystem is in chaos when the grazing grass disappears.