Killer olive bug spreading in Mallorca

subspecies detected: Showing the bacteria has been on the island longer than thought.

A DEADLY  bacteria, Xylella fastidiosa, is spreading throughout olive and fruit trees across Mallorca. 

The Minister of Environment and Agriculture, Vicenç Vidal, met with the mayors of Mallorca to discuss containment and possible solutions. 

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The mayors, along with the Federation of Local Government Bodies of the Balearic Islands, FELIB, asked for tools to identify trees that are infected, and for more information to give to locals asking for help.  

The eradication protocol recommended by the European Union inspectors, who are coming to examine progress in June, is to destroy infected trees by removing and incinerating the entire tree and all those susceptible within 100 metres.  

The first cases of the olive ebola traced back to three trees in a Porto Cristo nursery, originally from Tarragona.  These first three cases cost the government over €41,500 in compensation after following protocol to destroy all susceptible trees.  

After testings, three subspecies have been detected in Mallorca and on the other Balearic Islands. One of the subspecies is the most aggressive form of the bacteria, which wiped out over one million olive trees in several Italian provinces. The discovery of the subspecies and the range of spread across Mallorca has shown that the bacteria has been on the island longer than first thought. 

The recent meetings between Vidal, FELIB, and local mayors have been based on finding solutions that do not include the mass destruction of healthy plants. Over a hundred fruit and olive trees have already been incinerated. 

Vidal has support from all parties in a €250,000  contract with Tragsa, an innovative solutions company, to contain the bacteria.  Tragsa plans to support regional plant health department technicians in collecting samples, cutting down infected trees, and incinerating to ensure the bacteria does not spread.  Vidal argues that taking the time to analyse and adapt measures is necessary because the bacteria adapts differently in each environment.

Native to the Americas, the killer bacteria was first recorded in Europe in 2013.


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