Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Invasive Papaya Pest Discovered in Asia

Papaya is a multimillion dollar crop in Indonesia, India, countries in the Caribbean and South America, the Hawaiian Islands, and Florida. The first reported occurrences of papaya mealybug in Indonesia and Southeast Asia were in May and then in July. Scientists are using integrated pest management to contain the pest.

Thanks to efforts by scientists in a Virginia Tech-led program, the papaya mealybug — an emerging threat from India to Indonesia — is being identified and contained.

Attacks by the papaya mealybug are a serious threat. In Indonesia, India, countries in the Caribbean and South America, the Hawaiian Islands, and Florida, papaya means millions of dollars for farmers, middlemen, and processors. In West Java, the scourge has wiped out most of the papaya plantations.

In May, 2008, a team from the Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Program (IPM CRSP), managed by Virginia Tech’s Office of International Research, Education, and Development, identified papaya mealybug on papaya trees at the Bogor Botanical Gardens in West Java, Indonesia.

It was the first reported occurrence of papaya mealybug in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

A specialist in mealybug taxonomy at the California Department of Agriculture confirmed the identification as papaya mealybug — an unarmored scale insect found in moist, warm climates.

Two months later, on a trip to Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore, India, Muni Muniappan, director of the IPM CRSP at Virginia Tech, recognized the telltale sticky residue on papayas he saw there as papaya mealybug.

In each case, IPM scientists alerted government authorities and advised them on appropriate actions to take. These discoveries are crucial; the sooner authorities can arrest the spread of the papaya mealybug, the better their chances of saving this lucrative tropical crop.

While papaya is an exotic fruit in the northern hemisphere, papain, a product of papaya, is used in a variety of ways every day, including the production of chewing gum, shampoo, and toothpaste and tooth whiteners; as a meat tenderizer; and in the brewing and textile industries. In many tropical countries, papaya is an important commercial crop and a key component of the daily diet.

The papaya mealybug originated in Mexico, where it developed alongside natural enemies and was first identified in 1992. It wasn’t until it jumped countries and started proliferating in places where it had no natural enemies that it began to pose problems. In 1995, it was discovered on the Caribbean island of St. Martin. By the year 2000, it had spread to 13 countries in the Caribbean, to Florida in the United States, and to three countries each in Central and South America.

The papaya mealybug is a particularly devastating pest because it is polyphagous—it feeds on many things. The insect’s host range includes more than 60 species of plants: cassava, papaya, beans, eggplant, melons, hisbiscus, plumeria, pepper, sweet potato, tomato, citrus, mango, and sour sop.

On papaya plants, the mealybug infests all parts of the young leaves and fruits, mostly along the veins and midrib of the older leaves. Young leaves become crinkly and older leaves turn yellow and dry up. Terminal shoots become bunchy and distorted. Affected trees drop flowers and fruits. To add insult to injury, the mealybug secretes a honeydew-like substance that turns into a thick sooty mold growth, making the fruit inedible and unusable for the production of papain.

The good news is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has developed a biological control program to tackle the pest. Biological control is an integrated pest management tactic that pits natural enemies against pests. APHIS has identified three parasitoids including parasitic wasps that are highly effective at containing the mealybug. These natural enemies are being cultured in a laboratory in Puerto Rico and are offered free to countries that request them.

The IPM CRSP, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is a consortium of integrated pest management scientists working to raise the standard of living in developing countries. The IPM CRSP team that traveled to Indonesia included Robert Hedlund, Cognizant Technical Officer for the USAID-funded program; Muniappan; Clemson University entomology Professors Merle Shepard and Gerry Carner; Clemson economics Professor Mike Hammig; Yulu Xia, assistant director of the NSF Center for IPM at North Carolina State; and Aunu Rauf, professor of entomology at Bogor Agricultural University in Indonesia.

While the challenge of reclaiming the papaya plantations from the papaya mealybug seems daunting, Muniappan is optimistic. “The use of parasitoids has been very effective in Caribbean and Latin American countries, and in Florida, Guam, and Palau,” he said. “But we need to be vigilant.”

Miriam Rich | Newswise Science News
Further information:

Further reports about: Agricultural Papaya Pest Pest crop papaya papaya mealybug papaya plantations

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht “How trees coexist” – new findings from biodiversity research published in Nature Communications
22.03.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden

nachricht Earlier flowering of modern winter wheat cultivars
20.03.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>