On June 2022, the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board launched a campaign in Rwamagana District to clarify on the African Apefly (Spalgis) - a type of rare insect which has a resemblance of an ape- that has been spotted in some parts of Rwanda.
Due to its unusual appearance and the spreading news about its toxicity; this caused anxiety among the farmers. The negative perceptions towards the insect led to abstaining from consuming vegetable associated with it.
The African Apefly is a potential natural enemy of mealybugs. It is speckled on mealybug-infested plants such as mango, cassava, orange etc. The mealybug is an insect that injects a toxin as it feeds on leaves and fruit which results in yellowing of the leaves, stunting, leaf deformation, early leaf and fruit drop, and accumulation of honeydew. Furthermore, sooty mold growing on honeydew emitted by the mealybugs interferes with photosynthesis resulting in a total plant death.
Germain Nkima, the RAB Scientist in Crop Protection Program, says that the Apefly (Spalgis) is not a harmful insect, rather a beneficial insect to crops. “This is a friend of the farmer; a potential predator of various species of mealybugs.”- he adds.
Studies indicate that the African Apeflies is a natural enemy of mealybugs where it plays a role of a biological control agent in field conditions. Scientists further confirmed that it is not poisonous.