By Kalleshwaraswamy CM and Shashank PR
Invasive alien species have far reaching ecological effects on native habitats and on native species. Invasive insect species cause severe economic damage to cultivated crops and forests. Most of the countries including India have formulated strict quarantine measures to limit such insects from introduction. However, there are several sources, which facilitate the movements of these invasive insects and aid in invading new areas. Last few decades seems unnerving and challenging to entomologists, plant protection specialists and farmers of the country. Several invasive species have been reported causing severe loss to Indian agriculture. At least, dozens of invasive pests have been reported in last two decades. Among all, the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda reported during 2018 is most devastating and many efforts have been taken by different agencies to manage.
There are three other invasive pests, which are reported during the same period. Two species namely Bondar’s Nesting Whitefly (BNW), Paraleyrodes bondari Peracchi and Neotropical nesting whitefly, Paraleyrodes minei Iaccarino are reported on coconut from Scientists of ICAR-Central Plantation Crops Research Institute, Kasaragod, Kerala. Unfortunately both these two whiteflies attacks coconut adding further worry to the coconut growers who are worried with the problem they are encountering due to exotic rugose spiraling whitefly, Aleurodicus rugioperculatus Martin invaded during 2016.
Following these two reports, another new invasive woolly whitefly, Aleurothrixus floccosus (Maskell) on Guava from Calicut, Kerala has been reported recently. Scientists from three organizations viz., Indian Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bengaluru; ICAR-NBAIR, Bengaluru and UAHS, Shivamogga came together to provide identification details, diagnosis, symptoms of damage and impact of this species on horticultural crops. They have highlighted that this species is neo-tropical and is presently widespread in Americas, Europe and African countries. In the countries of introduction it is causing appreciable damage to horticultural crops and hence a matter of worry for India. The pest can infest more than 20 host plants and it is known to be severe on Citrus in many other countries. Currently in India, it was collected on Guava from Kerala, and as of now it is occurring in many parts of neighboring states. Further research should be aimed at prevention of its spread to other states, parasitoids and their utilisation.
More information can be found about recent report of woolly whitefly, Aleurothrixus floccosuson Guava.