09

Oct

Pest Control: Managing Sucking Pests

Introduction

They can cause curly leaves, deformed fruit, withering, browning and drying of the entire crop. As a result of pest infestation, sucking pests act as vectors for viral diseases and can lead to serious yield losses by sucking the cell sap from crops.

Sucking pests include aphids, leafhoppers, thrips, whitefly, beetles and mites. They all have one thing in common: their mouths have evolved for piercing and sucking their target plants. They suck sap from the host, and the nutrient poor host plant becomes stunted, distorted, yellowish and show reduced strength and premature leaf loss. Apart from transmitting disease organisms, some of these pests also inject toxic materials into the crop while feeding. To save your crops from heavy losses, our latest blog introduces you to the most important methods of control and prevention from sucking pests.

Methods of Pest Control for Sucking Pests:

In general, there are two types of measures to combat sucking pests, preventive and protective. Preventive measures focus on prevention and are taken before pest infestation, whereas protective measures are taken to control the pest after infestation. The pest control methods are as follows.

Integrated Pest Management

Successful pest control of sucking pests depends on several factors. Cultural practices can minimize the chance of initiation and buildup of infestations. Regular monitoring and early detection are the keys to pest management, as well as the proper choice and application of pesticides, when they are needed.

For this reason, it is recommended to consider a balanced mix of all control measures. This mix of cultural, biological, chemical control measures and other practices is called Integrated Pest Management. Learn more about it here. By the way, if you are growing your crops with the help of Plantix Crop Advisory, you already follow IPM practices.

Preventive Measures

  • Use silver colored plastic mulch to cover the bed to repel sucking pests. Prior to planting the main crop, silver mulch will protect young crops until the foliage becomes lush.
  • Maintenance of good field sanitation. Eliminate sources of infestation to prevent populations from spreading from one season to the next.
  • Install yellow and blue sticky traps in large quantity at 30 cm from the ground to monitor the incidence of sucking pests and determine their severity.
  • Grow barrier-crops along the border of the main crop. Maize, for example, not only attracts white flies, but also protects the main crop from cold and hot winds.
  • Plan to grow companion crops that attract or deter sucking pests, e.g. some marigolds attract thrips/aphids and can be used as trap crops.
  • Avoid excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers. Too much fertilizer allows the plants to grow uncontrollably, which in turn increases the potential of sucking pest infestation.
  • Strictly follow weed management.
  • A proper pruning of the crops facilitate better aeration and retard pest pressure.

Chemical Measures

Using pesticides/insecticides is followed on a large scale for pest control aphids, thrips and other sucking pests. It's more effective and faster when compared to other methods but it's also hazardous to the environment. Furthermore an improper use of pesticides/insecticides leads to the development of resistance among pests leading to severe outbreaks, resulting in higher cultivation costs and significant losses. Chemicals for the control of sucking pests are available in various forms: dusts, wettable powders, seed dressings, emulsions and granulates. Learn more about the correct use of insecticides and pesticides.

Methods Acceptable For Organically Certified Produce

Cultural and biological practices as well as insecticidal soap sprays are suitable for use in organically certified cultivation. If you would like to learn more about the certified organic control of Sucking Pests, please contact our #PlantiXperts in the Plantix Community.

  • Spray a 5% solution of Neem Kernel extracts mixed with Neem Oil.
  • To prepare a sufficient mixture of the extract to spray an area of 4000 square meters, 3-5 kg of Neem Kernel are required.
  • Remove the outer seed coat and use only the core ( If the seeds are fresh, 3 kg of kernel is sufficient. If the seeds are old, 5 kg are required)
  • Wrap the core carefully and tie it loosely with a cotton cloth.
  • Soak them overnight in a container with 10 litres of water.
  • When filtering, 6-7 liters of extract can be obtained.
  • Between 500-1000 ml of this extract should be diluted with 9 or 9.5 litres of water and mixed with 5 m of Neem Oil.
  • Mix 500 to 2000 ml of this solution with water in a 10 litre sprayer together with 100 ml Khadi soap solution to ensure that the extract adheres well to the leaf surface.
  • The concentration of the extract can be increased or decreased depending on the intensity of the pest infestation.

Biological Controls of Sucking Pests

Beneficial insects such as predatory ladybirds, lacewings, soldier beetles and parasitoid wasps are important agents for pest control of several sucking pests like aphids, mites and leafhoppers. Aphids are captured by various species of beneficial insects. A high degree of control is usually exercised by these natural enemies. For example, the cultivation of cow beans as under intercrops or on irrigation grids increases the build up of the natural enemy. Find more information and detailed manuals on using beneficial insects in the Plantix App.