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Plantwise Factsheets for Farmers

Sooty Mold Complex


Recognize the problem

Sooty mold refers to the various species of black fungi growing on leaves as a result of honeydew, which is the excretion produced by sucking insects that feed on the plant. The fungi resemble soot and can cover leaves, stems and fruits. Fungi do not infect the plants directly but reduce their ability to utilize sunlight, hence yield may be affected. Sooty mold also increases the cost of marketing fruits as it needs to be removed before sale.


Sooty mold can affect a wide range of crops and grow on any surface where honeydew is present. Sucking insects should be controlled to prevent the honeydew and therefore the problem. Ants that feed on the honeydew can carry the sucking insects from plant to plant and protect them from the predators which would naturally control their numbers. Therefore, ants should be controlled to allow predators access to the sucking insects. Tall trees infested with sooty mold should be pruned or cut as they are difficult to spray.


  • Do not attempt to control the fungus. Instead, control the insect pest that is causing the fungal growth.
  • If possible, remove excessive shade surrounding the plot
  • Paint or treat cut surfaces of plants after pruning to limit ant infestations
  • Use Golden Pest Spray oil 3 Tbs/gallon of water every 14 days to control sucking insects such as aphids, mealy bugs, leafhoppers and whiteflies. Add cypermetrin (e.g. Fastac) 2 tsp/gallon of water to this mixture to control ants. 

When using a pesticide, always wear protective clothing and follow the instructions on the product label, such as dosage, timing of application, and pre-harvest interval.

The recommendations in this factsheet are relevant to: Grenada

Authors: Francis Noel, Moses Frank
Pest management Unit (MOA)
tel: 440-0019 email:
©CAB International. Published under a CC-BY-SA 4.0 licence.

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