COIMBATORE: Vice-Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) P. Murugesa Boopathi has advised farmers to take up immediate control measures to prevent the spread of the papaya mealy bug that has recurred.
According to a release, he has cautioned the incidence of the bug, which is moderate now, can escalate to larger proportions if left unchecked. “Farmers should take up integrated pest management measures on a war footing and in a co-operative manner,” he said.
The mealy bug was a polyphagous sucking pest that infested crops like cotton, papaya, tapioca, mulberry, jatropha and other cultivable crops. The pest sucked the sap of the plant and weakened it. The honey dew secreted by the bug resulted in the formation of black sooty mould that caused further damage to the crops.
E.I. Jonathan, Director of the Centre for Plant Protection Studies of the university, said the bug assumed the status of a major pest in 2009 when it caused severe damage to crops and huge losses to farmers in Coimbatore, Erode and Tirupur.
“TNAU responded to this outbreak by initiating appropriate research and carrying out intensive extension programmes. The opportunity was used to conduct awareness programmes and demonstrations on control measures and the pest was brought under control. Recently, the recurrence of the mealy bug has been noticed in Coimbatore, Erode, Salem, Tirupur, Namakkal and Karur districts,” Mr. Jonathan said.
Farmers were advised to follow the integrated pest management measures like removing alternate weed hosts, pruning severely affected parts of the crop regularly, conserving natural enemies, using botanical insecticides like neem oil, fish oil and rosin soap, spraying of profenophos or dimethoate, etc.
The university has cautioned that if control measures were not taken immediately, farmers may lose their entire crop because of the high temperature, low humidity, dry wind and no rain.
For details, contact Head, Department of Agricultural Entomology, TNAU, Coimbatore – 641003; or call 0422-6611214, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.