Chennai-made pheromone traps for fruit fly come to Maldives’ rescue
K. S. Sudhi
Invasive species specialists from the Asia-Pacific Forest Invasive Species Network (APFISN), based at Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Thrissur, are reaching out to Sh. Feevah Island of Maldives to save its farming from a fruit fly attack.
Experts, who have identified the pest as Batocera invadens, the oriental fruit fly, are planning to ship around 400 pheromone lure traps to the atoll from Chennai to contain the attack.
The officials of the Fisheries and Agricultural Ministry of Maldives had recently approached the APFISN, a cooperative alliance of the 33 member countries in the Asia- Pacific Forestry Commission, a statutory body of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, for containing the attack. Mangoes and water apples farmed there were widely damaged in the attack.
The traps marketed by a Chennai firm have a trap container and a compatible lure dispenser to attract and entrap the flies. Methyl Eugenol, an insect pheromone, is used to lure fruit flies that attack mango, guava and other tree fruits.
The males of many fruit fly species, said T.V. Sajeev, APFISN coordinator, are strongly attracted to pheromones. The volatiles in the trap, which would last up to 50 days, attract the males, which are eventually trapped and killed thus denying the females the chance to mate.
The female flies are the ones who bore the fruits to lay eggs, which eventually destroy the fruits. The breeding population of the flies could be effectively controlled using such traps, he explained.
T. Jiji, Professor of Entomology, College of Agriculture, Vellayani, Thiruvananthapuram, said fruit fly attack was first reported in India three decades ago.
The Kerala Agriculture University had developed an eco-friendly Integrated Pest Management system including pheromone traps. Over 2 lakh such kits, which have a success rate of around 90 per cent, have been distributed in Kerala since 2008, Dr. Jiji said.
G. Suja, Assistant Professor, Onattukara Regional Agricultural Research Station of the University, at Kayamkulam in Alappuzha, pointed out that pheromone traps could also be used to control pest attack in vegetables, paddy and coconut. Banana traps using banana, jaggery and two drops of pesticides for trapping female fruit flies have also been developed by the university, said Ms. Suja.
Keywords: Sh. Feevah Island, fruit fly attack, Asia-Pacific Forest Invasive Species Network