By Michael Hunter Adamson
“They’re pretty charismatic,” says Julie Hopper of the tiny herbivorous weevil N. bruchi. Native to Argentina, these weevils were first brought to North America to combat the spread of the invasive weed water hyacinth. Like the weevil, Hopper also started far from the Delta. Originally a student of marine biology, she became interested in parasitology and discovered the value of biological control. “Biocontrol can make a huge impact, from reducing disease transmission to controlling invasive species, you name it,” she says. Her current work, as a science fellow with the Delta Stewardship Council, is investigating whether or not there is some underlying cause as to why the weevil has been less effective in the Delta than other efforts in the American South. “I consider them kind of a superhero,” says Hopper.