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Parasitoids introduced in Theni district farm

Staff Reporter

To control papaya mealy bug infestation

— PHOTO: G. KARTHIKEYAN.

BOON:Collector P. Muthuveeran releasing parasitoids in a papaya farm at Thimmarasanaickanur in Andipatti on Wednesday.

THENI: Farmers raising papaya plants need not worry about mealy bug, a major destroyer of the plant, as agriculture officials introduced three imported parasitoids in a farm at Thimmarasanaickanur in Andipatti near here on Wednesday.

Releasing them , Collector P. Muthuveeran said that these parasitoids would biologically control papaya mealy bug infestation.

About 20 to 30 per cent of papaya farms in the district had been affected by the mealy bug, Paracoccus marginatus Williams and Granara de Willink, a small hemipteran invasive insect. It could not be controlled by pesticides, he added.

This bug was first noticed in Madurai, Dindigul, Sivaganga and Virudhunagar districts in July, 2009 and later spread to other districts. 

The Collector stated that this technology would definitely be a boon to papaya growers.

Entomologists K. Suresh and B. Usha Rani said that symptoms of infestation were crinkling, cupping, drying and ultimately death of the infested plants. Heavy infestations would reduce the fruit marketability.

The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, in collaboration with The National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects, Bangalore, had imported three species of parasitoids — Acerophagus Papaye, Pseudoleptomastix mexicana and Anagyrus loecki — from Costa Rica and Mexico for its biological control, they added.

Assistant Director of Horticulture A. Muthaiah said papaya had been grown on 500 hectares in the district. Mealy bug had affected some portion of all almost all farms. On the whole, 100 hectares could be affected.

The pest has a high reproductive potential especially during summer and the dense, waxy secretions around the body to protect the pest from adverse environmental conditions and pesticides.

Later, the Collector distributed parasitoids in culture tubes to six farmers in Andipatti block.

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