An Alarming roblem in Black r ' A Sharon D'Silva, Sujatha A.M., Biju C.N., S. J. Ankegowda Indian Institute of Spices Research- Regional Station, Appangala, Heravanadu (Post), Madikeri , Kodagu, Karnataka - 571 20 I Symptoms of chlorotic spots black pepper leaves 011 illfested later emerge as adults with a pair of wings. However, the life span of an adult male is short and it dies shOltly after The King of Spices, black pepper (Piper Iligrum L.) is one of the ancient and high valued spice crops, native to the Indian sub-continent. Black pepper, considered to be the most widely used spice in the world, is an inevitable additive to a wide vaIiety of delicious cuisines, an essential component of traditional ayurvedic formulations and a commodity adorning matchless position in trade and commerce compared to other export oriented spices. mating. Besides black pepper the scale insects are important pests on a wide alTay of plant species. They inflict damage to the plants by sucking the sap, directly from the vascular system with their long thread-like mouth pan called the stylet. As a result of infestation, the leaves develop chlorotic spots, which subsequently results in the yellowing and drying of the affected portio ns. Some species feed . Numerous insect pests often pose a threat to the economic and sustainable cultivation of black pepper. Among them, the scale insects have emerged as a major pest of black pepper in the plantations and nurseries, especially in higher altitudes during the summer months. The scales are small insects with no visible legs or antennae. In general, the scale insects are categorized on the lower surface ofleaves and the damage manifests as stipples or chlorotic spots. Severe infestation leads to substantial reduction in plant vigour and the plants appear unhealthy with extensive foliar yellowing that eventually results in drying of the affected plant pans which could be fatal. Besides causing direct damage to the host by sucking the sap, a few species of scales produce honey into two groups viz., the armored scales and the soft scales. dew. The armored scales secrete a protective waxy shield Sooty mold (celtain group offungi) lured by the sweet covering their body and the soft scales which lack the excrement, grows as a black coating on the upper surface protective shield, are larger and flat compared to the of leaves reducing the photosynthetic area. In severe armored scales. The ad u It fema Ie scales are rc:':=-:-:::=c-:::::-:====":=::-::~=-=-c:-:c-:-:====::-:=:; sedentlU'y and remain under a hard protective scale (exuviae) during their entire life period. Numerous eggs are found beneath the shield of a female adult. The egg hatches into mobile crawlers (first instal') with functiona l legs, which migrate in search of new feeding sites. In a few days, the crawlers settle, inselt their mouth pmts into the plant tissues and struts feeding. Eventually, they secrete a protective covering, lose their legs and matme either into male o r female adults. The males norma lly confine themselves underthe scale cover untilmaltu;ty and L...."-_~_ __ ~_ _~_ __ _ _ _ _ _ _~_ _..J \ 1'0 Spite India April 201'5 -I It is easier to control the population build-up in the cases, especially in young plants, the active photosynthetic area is reduced to a considerable extent and it results in initial stages of its establishment. In the plantations, drying up of leaves. The incidence of scale insect usually infestation of the scales is initially noticed on the vines flares-up during summer (FeblUary - May), but with the grown along the boundaries. Pruning and destruction of onset of monsoon the pest population declines. The most infested leaves as well as branches as soon as the prominent species of scale insects rep0l1ed on black infestation is noticed helps to prevent flaring-up of the pepper are Lepidosaphes piperis (the mussel scale) and population, fUl1her spread and establishment. Aspidiotus destructor (the coconut scale). The mussel scale - Lepidosaphes piperis They are found as grey to dark brown elongated encl1lstations on the stem, petioles, berries and leaves of black pepper vines. The symptoms manifest as chlorotic patches and yellowing. As the infestation attains severity the vines wither and dty up. Older cuttings in the nurseries are also prone to this pest. The coconut scale - Aspidiotus destructor This species attacks a large number of host plants and is a major pest of coconut. They are small , flat, circular, fOlms encl1tstations on the lower sutface of mature leaves and sometimes even on the berries. The leaves show symptoms of chlorotic patches or stipples and later turn yellow. In severe cases, the leaves wither and dry up. Protopulvinaria Longivulvata They are broadly oval or pytiform, flat in cross section with reddish to dark brown body, often with sclerotized areas around the body margin without an obvious wax covering. They occur on mature leaves of older black pepper cuttings in the nursery. The pest infestation results in yellowing and wilting of affected leaves. Vruious natural enemies including predatOly insects like mites, beetles, bugs and also entomopathogenic fungi have been reported as nature's ammunition against scales. Conserving the resident natural enemies is a more efficient and long lasting strategy to restrict scale insect infestation in black pepper plantations in an eco-friendly manner. When the above mentioned strategies fail to yield appreciable results, application of synthetic pesticides or plant-based bio-fonnulations may be resorted to contain the pest. Spraying dimethoate (0.1 %) on affected vines (during early stages of pest infestation) after harvest of the produce and repeating after 21 days, suppresses the Marsipococcus Marsupiale infestation to a greater extent. Since, natural enemies They are usually brown, larger and flat in nature. They could be present in the ecosystem, selection of chemicals ru'ecommonly seen infesting black pepper leaves at higher may be done carefully to avoid any adverse impact on altitudes. The symptoms of damage are not very much them. prominent in black pepper. In nurseries, spraying neem-based fotmulations [neem Regulm monitOling of the planting matetials maintained in the nurseries and vines in the plantations provides a practical solution to determine the presence or absence of scales. In nurseries, acti ve movement of foraging ants in the vicinity of the plants could be a handy and indirect indicator for the presence of scales, even if the population build-up is at the initial stages. Infestation in nurseries should be checked completely before distribution of the planting material in order to prevent the introduction and fut1her spread of the pest into the areas where it is absent. 12 Spice India April 2015 oil (0.3%) or neemgold (0.3%)] or fish oil rosin (3%) proved effective in controlling the pest infestation. The scale insects secrete wax to form a protective coating over their body, which acts as a shield even making them immune to insecticides that are contact in nature. Therefore in most cases, it is difficult to control scale insects by applying chemical pesticides. Hence, a welltimed and thorough spray of the recommended pesticides must be aimed at the unprotected immature (crawlers) or the overwintering stage.
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