The pink bollworm is a major pest that affects cotton crops worldwide. This insect is known for its ability to cause extensive damage to cotton crops, leading to huge economic losses for farmers. In this blog, we will explore the pink bollworm menace in detail and the measures are taken to control its impact.
The pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) is a small moth that belongs to the family Gelechiidae. The insect’s larval stage is the most destructive, as it feeds on cotton bolls, causing damage to the seeds inside. This damage reduces the quality and quantity of cotton fibers, leading to significant financial losses for cotton growers.
The pink bollworm was first reported in India in the 19th century, and since then, it has spread to other cotton-growing regions worldwide, including the United States, China, Pakistan, and Egypt. The insect’s spread is facilitated by the global trade in cotton and cotton products.
In India, the pink bollworm has become a serious menace, causing significant damage to cotton crops. According to the Cotton Association of India, the pink bollworm infestation reduced cotton yields in the country by up to 40% in 2018-19, leading to a loss of around Rs. 15,000 crores (approx. USD 2 billion).
To control the pink bollworm infestation, farmers use a combination of cultural, biological, and chemical control measures. Cultural control measures include crop rotation, timely harvesting of cotton, and the destruction of crop residues. These measures help to reduce the insect’s breeding sites and limit its population growth.
Biological control measures involve the use of natural enemies of the pink bollworm, such as parasitic wasps and predatory insects. These natural enemies help to control the insect population, reducing the need for chemical pesticides.
Chemical control measures involve the use of insecticides to kill the pink bollworm. However, this approach is not without its drawbacks. The insect has developed resistance to some of the commonly used insecticides, making them less effective in controlling its population. Moreover, the use of insecticides can have adverse effects on the environment, such as polluting water sources and harming beneficial insects.
To tackle the pink bollworm menace, India has adopted a multi-pronged approach. The government has launched a program called the “Pink Bollworm Management Campaign,” which aims to promote the use of integrated pest management practices and reduce the use of chemical pesticides. The program also encourages farmers to adopt Bt cotton, a genetically modified variety that produces a toxin harmful to the pink bollworm.
Neel Kamal / TNN / Updated: Jul 13, 2022
BATHINDA: The cotton crop is facing severe pest infestation for the second consecutive year in Punjab.
Almost half of the crop in the state is under the attack of white fly, while the pink bollworm has infested the crop at some other places. Punjab agriculture minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal on Tuesday confirmed that out of 750 fields visited by agriculture officials, the pest attack had been found at 370 places.
Unfavourable weather, curtailed availability of canal water, substandard fertilisers and seeds have been cited as the probable reasons for Infestation. This is the third season in eight years that Punjab had reported a pest attack on cotton. In 2015, the whitefly had caused over 60% loss to the crop in 2021. Again, nearly 60% crop has come under pink bollworm attack.
By Meena Menon on 29 August 2018
- Since the last few years, farmers in the Yavatmal region of Maharashtra have been challenged by pests like the pink bollworm on cotton which is assuming menacing proportions, and this year too farmers have noticed with alarm, an early onset of the pest.
- The dangerous chemical cocktail of pesticides used by farmers in the area has resulted in rampant pesticide poisoning.
- Multiple measures like pheromone and light traps, multi-cropping and changing cropping seasons have been initiated, but the effectiveness of these measures remain to be seen.
On August 10, when Sanjay Rathod walked to his lush cotton field in Lasina village in Yavatmal, Maharashtra, he noticed some closed yellow flowers. Opening them, he found to his horror the tiny larvae of the pink bollworm. He shared a photo with other farmers on Whatsapp groups and immediately got a response on what pesticides he should use. Accordingly, he sprayed an insecticide Larvin and some neem spray. They didn’t have any effect. He is now terrified of a repeat of last year when he lost half the cotton on his six acres of land, to the pink bollworm menace.
From the main road, his field in a 15-20 minute walk and you can sink knee deep into the soft soil. Walking around, he obsessively checks each flower and finds a number of the pests. “They are early this year,” he says, downcast. He has installed pheromone traps, in which he finds nothing, and a light trap as well.
The next day, the district agricultural officers paid a visit to his farm and found that the pest attack was not serious and below the economic threshold level (ETL). “It’s a healthy field,” proclaimed Pramod Yadgiriwar, associate director, research, zonal agricultural research station, Dr. Punjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth, Akola. However, Rathod is not very convinced. He is still anxious that he will lose his crop as the scientists didn’t check the whole field.
Over a week later, he found few pink bollworms but noticed sap-sucking pests and is now seeking advice from Yadgiriwar on how to deal with them. One of the issues with Bt cotton has been a resurgence of secondary pests, the mealy bug among them.
Light traps and pheromone traps dot the cotton landscape in Yavatmal district in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. This is the epicentre of farmer suicides in the country and in addition to the farm distress, since the last few years, farmers are challenged by pests like the pink bollworm (larvae of the moth Pectinophora gossypiella) on cotton which is assuming menacing proportions. This year too, farmers have noticed with alarm, an early onset of the pest.
The pink bollworm is a major pest that affects cotton crops worldwide. To control its population and limit the damage it causes, farmers have been using a combination of cultural, biological, and chemical control measures. However, there is a need for a more sustainable approach to pest management that minimizes the use of chemical pesticides and promotes the use of integrated pest management practices.
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