An Alarming
roblem in
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
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.
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
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.