Prospective StudentsInternational StudentCurrent StudentProa Portal

Scarlet Gourd Situation Improving (March 31, 2010)

Over the years, scarlet gourd (Coccina grandis) has been threatening the tree population on Saipan. Scarlet gourd is a fast growing vine that climbs up trees and kills them over time by taking away available light. It has been known to cause power outages when climbing up telephone poles.

To alleviate the problems that scarlet gourds are causing, the University of Guam (UOG), with help of the United States Department of Agriculture, conducted research on biological control of scarlet gourd.

With the support of the Northern Marianas College Cooperative Research Extension and Education Services, UOG scientists Dr. Rangaswamy Muniappan and Dr. Gadi Reddy set out parasitic insects on several sites in Saipan. In 2003, they released the scarlet gourd weevil (Acythopeus cocciniae) and in 2007 a moth, the scarlet gourd vine borer (Melittia oedipus).

The scarlet gourd weevil feeds on the leaves of the scarlet gourd. Its larvae mine the leaves, causing even more damage. Without leaves, the plant will eventually die. The scarlet gourd vine borer lays eggs into the stems of the scarlet gourd. The larvae feed on the inside of the stem and grow into moths.

Both insects are specialized on scarlet gourd, which means they will not attack any other plant species. Once the population of scarlet gourd is reduced, the number of insects will also shrink.

Earlier during the month, Dr. Reddy and Dr. Muniappan returned to Saipan to study the situation. Together with staff from NMC-CREES, entomologist Dr. Marisol Qunitanilla and retired entomologist Dr. Joaquin Tenorio toured the release sites on Saipan. The research the presence and the status of reproduction of moths and weevils.

The result of all studies and researches have been very positive. Extensive leaf damage on the scarlet gourd showed that the weevil is well established on Saipan. Boreholes on many scarlet gourd stems showed that the moth was also doing well. The Scientists were able to find live larvae and pupae of moth and continued research is being done through the NMC-CREES entomology lab for rearing of additional moths.

As a part of his observation, Dr. Muniappan concluded that scarlet gourds retreated by about 30-50% since the release of the insects.

Both Dr. Muniappan and Dr. Reddy are confident that should all factors remain constant and stable that the scarlet gourd will be further reduced over the next couple of years.

In the final briefing, NMC-CREES Director Ross S. Manglona thanked the visitors and stretched out the importance of the hard work that involved parties have made into the effort.

“We are grateful to be able to work with in partnership with such esteemed scientists and for the efforts of our hardworking staff at NMC-CREES,” said NMC Interim President, Lorraine T. Cabrera.

For more information about the elimination of scarlet gourd, you can contact Dr. Marisol Quintanilla at the NMC-CREES entomology lab, 234-5498 x1432 or email her [email protected].

:::  Back to NMC News list  :::

Notice to Persons with Disabilities

Northern Marianas College (NMC) is committed to ensuring that all persons have equal access to its programs, opportunities, and information resources, including those on its institutional website in accordance to the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

We apologize for any inconvenience as we work on bringing NMC’s website into full compliance. For immediate assistance, please contact Lucille Deleon Guerrero by email [email protected] or by calling (670) 237-6874.

If you wish to report an issue related to the accessibility of any content on NMC’s website, including a complaint about the accessibility of a document, form, or statement, you may do so by contacting the NMC’s IT Department by email at [email protected]. In your email please include the following information:

  1. The URL you are having accessibility issues with;
  2. The accessibility issue your are experiencing;
  3. Your name, phone number, and email address.

If you would like to file a formal grievance against the Northern Marianas College pursuant to the requirements of Section 504 and Title II, you may submit such grievance to the Office of the NMC President, P.O. Box 501250, Saipan MP 96950 or email [email protected].

You may also file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Office for Civil Rights. More information about filing a complaint with USDOE can be found at