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Subject: Cactoblastis cactorum poses threat to Mexican agriculture and environment
Date posted: July 13, 2001
Mexican scientists are worried about the possibility of Cactoblastis cactorum, a moth feeding on cacti of the genus Opuntia, being introduced into their country. In the past, C. cactorum was deliberately introduced into Australia, South America and Hawaii for biological control of invasive Opuntia spp. and has proved to be extremely efficacious. Over time, it has spread to other locations and is now established in several Caribbean countries, as well as Florida.
Mexico is home to at least 57 species of Opuntia, several of which are of great economic importance as animal feed, source of coloring agents, and for human consumption. Opuntia spp. are cultivated on a total area of 360,000 ha in Mexico.
Some Opuntia spp. in Mexico and the US are endangered species.
Thus, the introduction of C. cactorum into Mexico, as well as its further spread within the US could result in serious economic and environmental damage.
For more detail see: Zimmermann et al. 2000. Cactoblastis cactorum, una nueva plaga de muy alto riesgo para las opuntias de México.

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