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This parasite is a friend of cotton growers

Farmers growing cotton have reason to cheer. They will not have to worry about mealybugs which severely damage the crop even before flowering.

Written by C B SINGH | Hisar |
June 5, 2009 11:36:05 pm

Farmers growing cotton have reason to cheer. They will not have to worry about mealybugs which severely damage the crop even before flowering. Haryana Agriculture University has made a breakthrough by developing a parasite to check the bug before it affects the crop on a large scale.

The mealybug survives on sprouts from the previous year’s cotton stubbles and alternate host plants. The university officials said scientists had been working for the last decade and were finally successful in developing a parasitoid,Aenasius sp. nov,which will check the growth of mealybugs.

A team of scientists comprising Dr Pala Ram and Dr R K Saini of the university’s Entomology Department claimed,“ A parasitoid Aenasius sp. nov can keep a check on the population of mealybugs. In April 2009,the parasitoid killed 72 per cent of mealybugs around Hisar and 38-74 per cent of mealybugs during September in different areas.” The parasitoid reportedly killed mealybugs within a week. The mealybugs turn into reddish dark brown mummies which could be easily identified on the plant. The parasitoid has the ability to kill mealybugs even on various alternate host plants.

Head of the Entomology Department Dr H R Rohilla said,“The parasitoid population should be augmented in cotton through collection of mealybug mummies from various host plants and released onto the cotton plants. The plant parts bearing mummies could be plucked and placed on cotton plants so that parasitoids emerging from the mummies could attack fresh mealybugs.” Work on inoculative releases of this parasitoid in mealybug-affected areas is in progress.

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