Saving the Sabra Cactus

An aggressive scale insect is threatening to destroy Israel's prickly pears (sabras). KKL-JNF experts and scientists from the Volcani Center for Agricultural Research have been trialing different forms of biological pest control against the insect. The story of the Save-the-Sabra campaign spans countries and continents across the world.

Stage 1: The Mealybug ladybird from Australia

Stage 1: The Mealybug ladybird from Australia

The Cryptolaemus montrouzieri from Australia, commonly known as the mealybug ladybird because of its love of scale insects and mealybugs, were  produced to deal with the Cochineal scale insect plaguing the Sabras.

Stage 2: Trialling the Mexican ladybug in quarantine

Stage 2: Trialling the Mexican ladybug in quarantine

The Australian ladybug did not take to the cochineal scale insect, so another option was tried - trialling the Mexican Hyperaspis ladybug under quarantine to see if it could consume the pest without destroying local fauna.

Stage 3: Mexican Ladybugs begin to save the Sabras

Stage 3: Mexican Ladybugs begin to save the Sabras

A successful few months in quarantine showed that the Mexican ladybug ate the Cochineal scale insect and nothing else, deeming it suitable for release on infected prickly pear cacti around Israel.

Stage 4: Sending the Mexican fly as reinforcements

Stage 4: Sending the Mexican fly as reinforcements

The Hyperaspis ladybug is doing good work. Reinforcements are now here in the form of  Mexican fly Leucopis bellula, which was tested in quarantine for their suitability for the job. Almost 200 flies have been released, with more to follow.