Outbreak of papaya mealy bug, Paracoccus marginatus was noticed during 2008 on papaya, mulberry, tapioca, jatropha, vegetables, fruits, cotton, plantation crops, spices and flowers crops in different parts of Tamil Nadu causing extensive damage upto 90 per cent.

Three parasitoids Acerophagus papayae, Anagyrus loecki and Pseudleptomastix mexicana were imported through NBAII (National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects) from US.

Field trials

According to Dr. P. Murugesa Boopathi, Vice Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, We obtained the nucleus culture of the parasitoids from NBAII for multiplication. Subsequently the parasitoids were released as field trials in the University campus.

He says:

“Training on mass multiplication of mealybug parasitoids was given to plant protection scientists from seven colleges, 36 research stations and 14 KVKs within a fortnight to take up mass production throughout the state immediately.

Short time frame

“Within a period of six months, 5,65,000 parasitoids were mass multiplied in a war footing manner and released in farmers field at 100 parasitoids / field / village or block in all districts of Tamil Nadu except Nilgiris. Since, no mealybug incidence was noticed in Nilgiris, the parasitoids were not released.”

“The technology is very well received by the farmers. Previously, on an average 2 sprays were given for a single crop of mulberry and 20-24 sprays in papaya and ten sprays in cassava by the farmers.

Amount saved

“An amount of Rs.122 crores have been saved by rural farmers for not advocating pesticide application for the past six months in papaya, mulberry and cassava. Due to release of mealybug parasitoidan amont of Rs.435 crores have been saved from loss due to the invasive pest in above three crops,” adds Dr. Boopathi

Two thousand parasitoids were also given to Kerala Agricultural University for release.

Anticipation

“We anticipate further flare up of mealybugs, since summer is in progress. In order to prevent mealybugs damage all the research stations were asked to gear up mass production of parasitoids to meet out the demand and release the parasitoids wherever there is infestation,” says Dr. Boopathi.

For further details contact: Dr. E.I. Jonathan, at 94890 56704, Director, Centre for Plant Protection Studies, TNAU, Coimbatore: