This tiny worm has saved South African companies more than R400 million

A microscopic worm, called a nematode. (Getty Images)

  • Scientists are breeding billions of microscopic worms to kill an invasive wasp in plantations all over the country.
  • The Sirex wasp is a serious threat to South Africa’s pine industry
  • Originally from Eurasia and North Africa, Sirex noctilio is one of many invasive species that are finding their way to South Africa

Every Monday, scientists at the University of Pretoria’s biological control facility send small plastic sandwich bags containing a cloudy liquid and more than 6-million microscopic worms, called nematodes to pine plantations all over the country.

Since 2007, the South African Sirex Control Programme, a collaboration between academia, government and Forestry South Africa, has reduced Sirex-related pine losses by…

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