Hypothenemus hampei, otherwise known as the coffee berry borer, is a scourge among coffee growers, including on Maui. First observed in Hawai‘i in 2010, the small, beetle-like creature caused $7.7 million in coffee crop losses in 2019, according to the state Department of Agriculture.
There is a possible solution. The University of Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have teamed up to release a non-stinging wasp whose larvae eat coffee berry borers. As with any such experiment, there could be unintended consequences. Humans’ track record of introducing species to the islands is far from spotless. But hey…let’s give it a shot? We all need our coffee.