Sugarcane woolly aphid is a significant pest affecting sugarcane cultivation in many Asian regions, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and the Solomon Islands. It has been reported in both tropical and subtropical zones in India, with severe outbreaks occurring in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat.
This pest depends on the sugarcane plant’s foliage, sucking out the sap and causing significant damage. Aphids exude a white, waxy substance that coats the underside of the leaves, making infestations easy to detect. In addition, the honeydew excreted by these insects can promote the development of sooty mold, further damaging the crops.
Effectively managing woolly aphids in sugarcane cultivation is essential to prevent economic losses. Farmers can use cultural practices and biological and chemical control to manage this insect. This blog post intends to provide valuable insight into these management strategies to assist sugarcane farmers in preventing woolly aphid infestations and maintaining healthy crops.
Wooly Aphid Management in Sugarcane
Life Cycle of Wooly Aphid
- The woolly aphid’s life cycle in sugarcane consists of four nymphal instars and one adult stage. After the fourth instar, the adult emerges and reproduces viviparously.
- Each female can generate between 15 and 35 young within 24 hours of mating and a maximum of 217 nymphs within 20 days.
- The female population typically dominates, resulting in accelerated reproduction. Nymphs require between 6 and 22 days to complete four instars and mature into adults.
- Adult females typically conclude their life cycle within a month, with an average lifespan of 32 to 57 days.
- Eggs laid by sexual females in autumn give rise to parthenogenetic apterous viviparous females in spring. Typically, the species does not migrate, spending its entire life cycle on a single plant.
Host Range: The woolly aphid is known to have a wide range of hosts. This means that it can infest more than just sugarcane. The pest feeds the sap of different trees, bushes, and plants. Woolly aphids often live on apple, pear, peach, plum, apricot, cherry, citrus, grapevine, olive, mulberry, eucalyptus, poplar, willow, and many other ornamental and fruit-bearing plants.
Identification of Wooly Aphid in Sugarcane in the Field
- Woolly aphids are small insects that feed on the sap of plants and can do a lot of damage to crops like sugarcane. They are called woolly aphids because they produce a white substance that looks like wool and covers their bodies. This substance protects them from predators and bad weather.
- Woolly aphids can be identified in sugarcane fields. They are small and have round bodies. They also have a white, wool-like substance on their bodies. Woolly aphids can damage crops, so it’s important to find and get rid of them early.
Damage Symptoms of Wooly Aphid in Sugarcane
- White, soft insects that feed on stems, tillers, and even roots.
- Deformed leaves, yellowing foliage, weak growth, and branch mortality
- honeydew and a white, fluffy coating near feeding locations
- Cankers and swellings develop on canes.
- Formation of swellings or massive knots on root systems
- Impaired water and nutrient transmission results in a yellowing of tree foliage.
- Infested young plants readily uproot.
- Leaves become dry and brittle.
- Heavy honeydew production resulted in the development of sooty mold.
- Visible deposition of woolly matter on the earth or soil.