Pakistan’s papaya pest squashed through biocontrol

By Saleem Shaikh. Reblogged from SciDev.Net

Pakistan’s papaya pest squashed through biocontrol
Copyright: G.M.B. Akash / Pano

A severe infestation of the papaya mealybug (Paracoccus marginatus) nearly wiped out papaya orchards in Pakistan before the largely farmed country decided to replace conventional chemical pesticides that were ineffective with natural predators that proved to be successful.

The system was developed by agro-biotechnologists and entomologists at the Pakistani chapter of the UK-based Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) who introduced the use of Acerophagus papayae, a parasitoid (insects whose larvae parasite upon and eventually kill the host), to effectively control the mealybug infestation.

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Update: Plant Health News (06 May 15)

Ecuador plans to improve traceability of its products from field to market. Photo by Vilseskogen/Chris Yardin, via Flickr

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the encouragement of citizen cooperation in the fight against fruit flies in Chile, exciting new projects to improve agriculture in Ecuador and an update from IITA on the spread of papaya mealybug in Tanzania.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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The papaya mealybug reaches Malaysia

Distribution of the papaya mealybug (screenshot
from the interactive distribution map at
www.plantwise.org) © CABI

Native to Mexico, the papaya mealybug (Paracoccus marginatus) is controlled in its home range by endemic natural enemies, like the parasitoid Acerophagus papayae. When the papaya mealybug invaded a number of countries in the neotropical region, including the Caribbean, US and parts of South America, encyrtid parasitoids (in particular A. papayae) were introduced to control these pest outbreaks. While these earlier invasions have been managed using biological control methods, the papaya mealybug has still spread to the oriental region, critically damaging papaya crops. In an attempt to restrain the effects of the papaya mealybug studies have been conducted across the region, leading to a recent report that the pest has now spread to Malaysia.

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