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Leaf beetles infestation   |13 January 2024

Leaf beetles infestation   

Messrs Stravens and Govinden during the press conference yesterday

Agriculture department warns against travelling with plants from Mahé to other islands


The public are advised not to transport plants infested with leaf beetle from Mahé to other islands.

The call by the Agriculture department was made yesterday during a press conference by Chief Biosecurity Officer, Randy Stravens, and Chief Agricultural Scientist, Roy Govinden, at Espace building.

It followed the spreading of ‘Podontia quatuordecimpunctata’ known as the ‘leaf beetle’, which are infesting golden apple trees on Mahé, especially in the Northern, Central and Eastern regions.

“We were first alerted by the public about the sighting of the pest on November 11, 2023,” said Mr Govinden. The Agriculture department then registered reports of leaf beetle in Bel Air on November 13, 2023. On November 15, they carried out a fogging exercise to control and maintain the pest throughout the Bel Air region, with a follow-up on November 21, 2023.

The Agricultural department continuously collected samples and finally knew what kind of pest they were dealing with. “It could be that someone entered the country with an infested plant while travelling or it could have been through transported goods. The pest is very common in the Asian Region: India, China, Philippine and Malaysia,” explained Mr Stravens.

Based on the numerous phone calls, and concerns from the public, the Agricultural department believes the leaf beetles may have been in Seychelles longer than presumed. The department is actively monitoring and surveying surrounding regions to assess the extent of its spread.

Since then, they have embarked on an emergency response plan which is subjected under the Animal Biosecurity Act 2014. In response to the identification of this beetle, the department of Agriculture has implemented control measures.

This included immediate surveys to identify the affected areas which ultimately led to rapid fumigation exercise on all affected golden apple trees in the area.

They have also established an Incident Response Team to coordinate and implement control and eradication strategies through fumigation of the affected golden apple trees.

The Agriculture department is carrying out more research about the pest by contacting foreign bodies for advice on how to control it. They are working with the African state of Benin, which they collaborated with during the hairy caterpillar infestation. They are also exploring the possibility of sending their samples to La Reunion and to the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) in Africa and Europe for more analysis.

Members of the public are encouraged to remain vigilant and report any sightings of the pest to the Plant Health Section within the department of Agriculture, and refrain from taking matters into their own hands. Early detection is crucial to minimise the impact of this pest on golden apple trees and other susceptible plants.

Mr Stravens said they will continue to monitor and eliminate the pest as they have enough equipment and resources for this purpose. Meanwhile the department was looking for alternatives to the chemicals being used presently for fumigation and will share it with the public as soon as a substitute, especially a homemade alternative, is found.


Alana Esther

Photos by Patrick Joubert/Contributed

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