BY SYDNEY ROSS SINGER – Despite widespread public opposition (with over 5,000 petition signatures and street protests), a resolution from the Hawaii County Council banning the release of this insect, and a need for free, wild food, the state government has decided to release the scale insect to attack every strawberry guava tree in Hawaii.
If you own property with strawberry guava, you may be eligible for compensation for damages to your trees from the scale insect. This invasive insect pest will attack your trees growing in your backyard, damaging your private property. These ornamental fruit trees if severely damaged or destroyed could be worth thousands of dollars each.
According to the Hawaii Constitution, Article 1, Section 20, “Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation”. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states,“…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
The State should be setting up a compensation fund. Instead, they are telling us our strawberry guava has no value because it is a weed in the forests. But our backyards are important environments, too.
Additionally, the scale bug has no predators in Hawaii, and some residential areas, especially in East Hawaii, have large amounts of waiawi that will be infested. Each leaf is expected to have many galls, each with a female inside releasing eggs and crawling nymphs into the air. There could be trillions of these particles floating around, blowing with the wind, and landing on people and pets.
We will see if there is an increase in asthma, skin irritations, eye irritations, or allergies as a result of contact with these chitinous particles.
It would be wise to first release the insects on a small island before releasing them on the Big Island. While the insects have been studied in laboratories, their behavior when released in the wild on a large scale is unknown, and this is what disturbs the opponents of this project. They could attack other trees or crops. Why not first test it on a smaller scale and see if the insect gets quickly out of control, as some fear. It would be easier to stop the experiment if done on a smaller island than on the Big Island, which also has most of the state’s agriculture.