“Aapke Papite ke ped mein safed kide lage hain. Papita mein ye hi problem hain (Your Papaya plants have been infested by the white pests. That’s the problem with papaya),” my neighbour remarked.
I nodded in agreement but was puzzled what to do.
“Now you have to chop the plant before it affects others,” he said.
I searched on the google which told me it was “woolly aphids” but not being dead sure of it I approached an expert and a friend, Dr Malvika Chaudhary of PCIL( Pest Control of India), Bangalore. She put me to Dr S K Ghosh, Head, Biopesticide Deptt., PCIL who asked me to send a picture of the affected plant so that I could identify it.
I mailed Dr Ghosh the image (see how easy things are) this morning and he promptly wrote back: “I am sure its Paracoccus marginatus , commonly known as papaya mealy bugs which emerged out as nightmare in Indian agriculture recently. Chemical control has totally failed to manage it but biological method has shown very promising control of this insect by releasing a natural parasite, Acerophagus papayae. Solution is available, no more panic!”
Where does one procure this natural enemy?
Dr Ghosh asked me to contact The Director, National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects (NBAII), Bangalore – 560024. Visit www.nbaii.res.in
Check out what miracle a tiny creature can do in this video: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyiED2QnF80&feature=player_embedded)
Mealy bug infests all type of plants and no plant is free from this. They are common in household flower plants, annual, fruit crops followed by vegetables and other crops. Important hosts are jatropha, guava, Plumeria alba, cotton, redgram, teak, tapioca, sunflower etc.