Pest Management

University of Hawai‘i at Hilo alumna Noelani Waters is a technician at the Hawai‘i Apiary Program of the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. She tells us about her work.

By Noelani Waters, Alumna, Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Tropical Plant Science and Agroecology Specialty, UH Hilo.

Noelani Waters holds some wood with a beehive covered in bees
Noelani Waters


My name is Noelani Waters and I am a College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management alumna who graduated in fall 2014 with a degree in agroecology and tropical plant science with a certificate in beekeeping.

Just before graduating, in October 2014, I was hired as an apiary technician with the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture’s (HDOA) Hawai‘i Apiary Program under the direction of the state’s head apiary specialist at the time, Danielle Downey. The mission of the Hawai‘i Apiary Program is to safeguard the beekeeping industries of Hawai‘i through the application of science-based regulations, regular monitoring and prevention of invasive honey bee pests, interactive educational opportunities, and open communication with beekeepers throughout the state.

Our program was officially established in 2011 and became a permanent part of HDOA in 2014. Though honey bees are not native to Hawai‘i, they have been here for over 150
years, providing a variety of excellent honey and, most importantly, critical pollination of local agricultural goods.

Professional beekeeper Harald Singer, from the Department of Integrative Zoology at the University of Vienna, gave a talk on “Interactions between honeybees and Varroa mites influenced by cell sizes and hygienic behavior.”

Harold Singer with group who came to hear him speak.
Harald Singer (center with lei) came to UH Hilo to give a talk on beekeeping and Varroa mites.

Professional beekeeper Harald Singer, from the Department of Integrative Zoology at the University of Vienna, recently gave a presentation at the University of Hawaii at Hilo on “Interactions between honeybees and Varroa mites influenced by cell sizes and hygienic behavior.” Singer specializes in small breeding cells in honeybees and ways to overcome the Varroa crises.

In attendance were UH Hilo students, staff, faculty and community beekeepers and representatives from the apiary program of the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture.

Singer is a professional beekeeper, bee inspector for the Styrian state government, president of the European Beekeeper Association, and a member of the Professional Beekeeping Association of Austria. He comes from a family of beekeepers and has taught beekeeping professionally.

This article was originally published in the Feb 2018 CAFNRM/Agriculture Club Newsletter.

Agricultural modernization is essential to enhance the productive capacity of environmentally-friendly integrative farming systems, farm worker and food product safety, and thereby economic return per unit land area.

By Bruce Mathews.

Bruce Mathews
Bruce Mathews

Whenever there are allegations of pollution or health risks generated by a medium or large scale agricultural operation there are always people who blanket attack modern agriculture, technology, and corporations. They then often advocate for small farms, production methods of the past, or even worse strongly endorse unverified “miracle” practices.

The problem with looking too much to the past is that it can stifle support for innovation which is key to a resilient food-secure future, and rural economic development. Furthermore in our often romanticized view of small farmers feeding half the world we tend to easily forget that many of these people live on a subsistence diet and frequently suffer hunger and malnutrition due to low and (or) inconsistent yields.

A primary concern brought about by this weed is its ability to rapidly spread and its danger to livestock, if ingested.

By Damon Adamson.

Fire weed, yellow flowers

One of more than 1200 species of Senecio globally, Senecio madagascariensis, fireweed, or Madagascar ragwort is of specific concern to Hawai‘i. Having been established in Hawai‘i in the early 1980s, it has continued to climb the chain as an invasive, dangerous, and noxious weed.

S. madagascariensis, an upright, branched mostly annual herb, growing from seed, that generally grows to heights between four and 24 inches tall. Its narrow, bright-green, alternating leaves can reach two to five inches in length and one-quarter inch across, often lobed and can demonstrate a smooth or serrated edge. The inflorescence is terminal and comprised of both disc and ray florets. Dull to bright yellow in appearance, similar to a common daisy, mostly displaying a 13-patterned ray floret count. Additionally, each type of floret, disc and ray, produce seed.

There are few annual crops where the farmer can recover costs of high fertilizer and soil amendment inputs required for desired yields coupled with disease and pests in this environment.

By Bruce Mathews.

Bruce Mathews

On January 9, the Hawaiʻi Island Food Alliance Food Access Working Group, together with The Food Basket, The Kohala Center, and the state Department of Health, hosted a presentation in Hilo by Ken Meter (president of the Cross-roads Resource Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota) that was entitled “Growing Secure Food Systems in Hawaiʻi”. The presentation focused on how the pre-European contact native Hawaiians were completely food independent and that the 1900s resulted in a downward spiral in food production in Hawaiʻi, which was particularly rapid from the 1940s onward. The mid 1960s was the last time that about half the food consumed in Hawaiʻi was produced here. The stated goal was to instigate change that results in greatly improved food independence on the Big Island. There was even quite a bit of discussion regarding community-based food systems and avoiding the cash-based economy, and doing food barter.

The anthurium is a native of Colombia first brought to Hawai‘i from London in 1889. It is highly sought for its vibrant colors and its ability to maintain its flowers for an extended period throughout the year.

By Damon Adamson.


Admired for their beautiful coloration, intricate and petite or bold and substantial appearance, as well as their incredible diversity expressed in form, the anthurium (Araceae andraeanum) is often overlooked as a crop or commercially viable alternative to traditional fruit or vegetable production models. The anthurium boasts over 100 genera and about 1,500 separate species common names include tail flower and flamingo flower.

Domesticated animal injuries and the widespread suffocation of native plants throughout the Hawaiian islands is often the result if the Yellow Himalayan Raspberry is left unchecked.

By Damon Adamson.

Yellow Himalayan Raspberry flower, leaves, start beside a rock.
Yellow Himalayan Raspberry

Native to the continent of Asia and surrounding islands (Tropical China, India, Sri Lanka, and the Philippine Islands), the Yellow Himalayan Raspberry (Rubus ellipticus) was introduced to Hawaiʻi in 1960 for its edible fruit and ornamental purposes, but rapidly escaped cultivation in 1961 and is now thoroughly documented on the island of Hawaiʻi. At present, the greatest infestation on Hawaiʻi is centered in the Volcano community adjacent to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, and many mid-elevation forests (1060-1200 m).

Prof. Tsang’s passion of hands-on education has permeated through UH Hilo curricula with a lasting effect on agricultural development in Hawai‘i.

By Christopher Lu.

Marcel Tsang
Marcel Tsang. Photo by Norman Arancon.

Long time faculty Marcel Tsang is retiring after decades of exemplary service at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management. A native of Mauritius, Dr. Tsang built a professional career and a family in Hawai‘i. He moved up through the ranks to full professor at UH Hilo.

Dr. Tsang, a trained agricultural engineer by Louisiana State University, has taught a number of core courses at the college including Farm Power, Farm Structures, Introduction to Agricultural Mechanization, Irrigation Principles and Practices, and Microcomputer Applications in Agriculture.

Students and fellow faculty members perceive him as a dedicated, sincere and caring professor. Dr. Tsang served as the curriculum committee chair for many years and assured the curriculum structure to be consistent with the mission of the college. His passion of hands-on education has permeated through the curricula with a lasting effect on agricultural development in Hawai‘i. He has advised, guided and excelled many students throughout their academic careers.

Though Aceria hibisci can feed on a wide variety of hibiscus plants, it seems to demonstrate a preference for the Chinese red hibiscus (Hibiscus rosasinensis L.)

By Damon Adamson.

Hibiscus Leaf-Crumbling Mite under microscope and lumpy leaves disfigured from invasion.
Leaf damage (left) and Hibiscus Leaf-Crumbling Mite.

Often going unnoticed until the telltale bump-like clusters form on hibiscus leaves, the Hibiscus Leaf-Crumbling Mite or Aceria hibisci, is small enough to escape most human visibility. The unsightly growth or galls are the results of feeding Aceria hibisci, otherwise known in Hawai’i as the Hibiscus Erineum Mite or just the Hibiscus Mite.

First identified in Hawai’i in 1989 on the island of Oahu. Now the microscopic mite can be found on most of the Hawaiian islands and other Pacific areas, like Fiji, the Cook Islands, New South Wales, Australia in 1992, and Brazil.

The threat of Tropical Nut Borer in Hawai‘i creates a significant threshold on macadamia nut production and proceeds.

By Damon Adamson.

Tropical Nut Borer and damaged nut
Tropical Nut Borer and damaged nut

The Tropical Nut Borer (TNB), Hypothenemus obscurus (Coleoptera: Scolytidae), was first identified in Hawai‘i—North Kona specifically—in 1988, with consequential studies conducted in the early 1990s. Initial studies determined TNB only affected Western Hawai‘i Island and with no other reports from Maui, O‘ahu, or Kaua‘i.

But within just a few years, TNB was found on all islands throughout the state, creating a significant threshold on macadamia nut production and proceeds. University of Hawai‘i studies conducted in the 1990s suggest a larger impact on orchards within dryer climates versus consistently wetter areas.