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Cassava mealybug on cassava

Phenacoccus manihoti
  • Avoid the use of infested plant materials. Before planting, cuttings can be treated by immersing them in heated water (mix equal volumes of boiling and cold water) for 5 to 10 minutes to kill the pest
  • If available, plant varieties that are less susceptible to the pest
  • Plant early in the rainy season to allow the cassava plant to grow well, before the dry season, as strong plants are more likely to withstand pest attack
  • Use soil amendments and mulch to avoid moisture stress in sandy or poor soils. Mealybug numbers are higher on cassava grown on poor soil, and may cause damage in spite of the presence of natural enemies
  • Restrict movement of infested planting materials across borders or mealybug-free areas
  • If possible, avoid planting cassava for more than 3 years on the same piece of land. Rotate with maize and legumes
  • Check crop weekly for mealybugs on shoots, stems and leaves
  • The adult females and larvae will be visible on the stem and leaves. They are oval in shape, pinkish in colour and covered in a white, powdery wax
  • Symptoms on the plant include stunting, wilting, leaf distortion, leaf fall, rosetting of the stem, bunchy top and dieback
  • Ants may also be present as they protect the mealybugs and feed on the honeydew they produce
  • Black sooty mould may grow on the leaves and stem in the presence of honeydew
  • Take action when you notice white waxy material on shoot tips, leaves and stems or any signs of mealybugs
  • Remove and destroy infested plants or plant parts at early stages of infestation
  • Prune stems or leaves with high infestation and burn or bury more than 50 cm deep
  • Mix 5 g of soap (alata samina) + 5 g of powdered pepper in 1 litre of water and leave it for about 30 minutes. Pour the mixture into knapsack and apply in 15 litres of water
  • Apply neem oil e.g. Grow-safe. Add 10 ml soap to 1 litre of water and stir to mix. Add 50 ml neem oil to the 1 litre water-soap solution and mix thouroughly. Add the oil-water-soap solution to 14 litres water in the knapsack and apply within 8 hrs. Ensure thorough coverage
  • If possible, use natural enemies such as the parasitic wasp Apoanagyrus lopezi and ladybirds
  • Control ants as these will reduce the amount of natural predators
  • No chemicals are registered in Kenya for cassava mealybugs

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