R. Vimal Kumar

Farmers told to remove weed host plants

Attack detected in three villages

Tirupur: Surfacing of Mealy bug attack on crops in Udumalpet and surrounding areas in the last few days is causing concern among the farming fraternity in the region. During the last crop season, many hundreds of hectares under the cultivation of banana, teak, guava, brinjal, mulberry, tapioca, cotton and pulses, among others, got infested by the Mealy bug resulting in huge financial losses for the cultivators.

The attack of mealy bug this season had just come to the notice of officials concerned and the infestation is yet to spread on a large scale.

“As of now, we have detected the mealy bug attack on hibiscus plant, papaya, tomato and few ornamental plants raised in the hamlets of Jallipatti, Kurichikottai, Dhali and Manupatti,” Assistant Director of Agriculture Tom Sailesh told The Hindu.

According to him, the attack is visible only on over 30 ha constituting just about five percent of the total cultivable land in these localities.

“But, there is every chance of the infestation getting spread since Mealy bugs have already find their place in the weed host plants in the region and it will unleash its attack once the crop season gets into a full swing,” Dr. Sailesh pointed out. E.I. Jonathan, Director of Centre for Plant Protection Studies, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, said that to combat the attack, the farmers should spray either dimethoate mixed with water at a ratio of 2 ml: one litre of water, profenophos at 2 ml : one litre of water, chloripyriphos at 2 ml: one litre water or neem oil at 20 ml: one litre of water, at pest infected areas. Weed host plants should be removed and burnt to kill the Mealy bugs. Dr. Jonathan said that plans were also afoot to import a parasite named Acerophagus Papayee from United States with the help of National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects, to combat the Mealy bug.