Leyte Fungus Is Promising Biocontrol Agent For Mango Insect Pests

A FUNGUS species that was isolated from Leyte promises to be effective in controlling insect pests that attack mango trees. This is the Beauveria bassiana that is being tested in a research at the National Mango Research and Development Center in Guimaras Island. The research is being undertaken by Helen Bignayan, a senior agriculturist at the NMRDC, is being supported with a P500,000 fund from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), an agency of the Department of Science and Technology.

Ms. Bignayan explains that the Bb fungus attacks mango pests that include fruitfly, planthoppers, twig borers as well as termites. The fungus is placed in a trap in tandem with an attractant or pheromone. The trap is called auto-inoculator. When the male fruitfly is attracted to the trap it gets infected with the fungus and when it goes out to find a mate, the mate is also infected and is eventually killed. Before the infected male and female insects die, they also spread the fungus in the field that could infect more insects.

In laboratory and cage tests, the infected insects are all killed. Non-mated insects that also picked up the fungus also had 100 percent mortality. This auto-dissemination technique will be evaluated under field conditions as the next step. Also, the researchers are evaluating different trap designs.

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