Woolly Whitefly

• A team of entomologists assessed three indigenous bugs that can control the pest woolly whitefly.

Key highlights:

• Two types of indigenous bugs Ladybird beetles are the biological weapons against a Caribbean-origin the woolly whitefly which is the enemy of Indian fruit farmers.

• According to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), these pests damage 30-35% of crops in the country annually.

About Woolly Whitefly:

• It was first described from Jamaica in 1896 and noticed in Florida, the U.S. in 1909.

• Its neo-tropical origin is found across the warmer parts of the world and also called citrus whitefly.

• This whitefly (Aleurothrixus floccosus) is invasive and polyphagous i.e. feeds on various kinds of food.

• ICAR’s National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources in Bengaluru had reported the spread of the pest from the Caribbean island through transportation of infested seedlings in 2019

• It has been found to attack some 20 plant families in India, exhibiting a strong preference for guava.

What are Indigenous Bugs for fighting Pests?

• These indigenous predators were ladybird beetles of the Coccinellidae family and the green lacewing fly from the Neuroptera order.

• These insects have four life stages which are egg, grub, pupa and adult and they complete their life cycle in 30-40 days.

• The bugs fed on the woolly whiteflies during the active grub stage for 10-12 days, consuming more of the flies as they grew.

• A tiny predator can eat 200-300 woolly whiteflies throughout its growing stage.

Significance:

• In could provide relief to fruit farmers and management of exotic pests is crucial for India’s farm economy, but it is important to employ economically viable and environmentally sound measures, therefore entomologists focussed on native predators for natural control of the woolly whiteflies.

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Mains Paper 3: Environment

Prelims level: Woolly Whitefly

Mains level: Read the newsfeed

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