The Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI), Regional Station, Vitla in Dakshina Kannada announced that their team of scientists has identified a new pest infecting areca nut kernels at plantations.
It has been identified as Xylosandrus crassiusculus, a scolytid beetle measuring 2.5-2.8 mm. It was found in young gardens located at Markanja village of Sullia taluk and Kaniyooru village of Kadaba taluk during the regular pest and disease surveillance program, the CPCRI said in a statement on Saturday.
The adult female beetle bore the husk by making a gallery of 1.06-2.39 mm and entered the kernel. It will then feed on the internal content and breed in the galleries. Infestation can be identified based on the hole made by the insect and extrusion of frass noodles from the bored hole, the statement said.
The scientists also discovered the symbiotic association of fungi, Ambrosiella roeperi, with the pest. Interestingly, this fungus serves as a nutrition-rich food source for larvae and adults. The fungus will cause black staining of kernel tissues and profuse growth of greyish fungal colonies. This will reduce the weight of the nut, and affect its storage life and marketable quality.
“Our scientists have identified and reported a new pest of areca nut infesting the kernel. Further, its management using eco-friendly strategies will be studied” the in-charge director of the CPCRI, Kasaragod, Kerala, Anitha Karun said.
This is the first report of Xylosandrus crassiusculus, a scolytid beetle affecting areca nut kernel, and the symbiotic association of Ambrosiella roeperi at the global level. It was reported by a team of scientists led by Shivaji Thube and comprising Thava Prakash Pandian and Bhavishya, she said.
“This is an interesting discovery. At present, it is not very serious. However, it affects storage life and marketable quality, which is a matter of concern. We are developing traps for its management” Mr. Thube, who led the team, said.
Mr. Bhavishya said that the areca nut is affected by many pests, of which pentatomid bug and perianth mite are the major insects infesting areca nut kernels. “Now we have found a new one,” he said, adding that their work has been published in an international journal, Insects.