Whitefly infestation of coconut and horticultural crops of Assam has caused serious disturbances to the farm sector in the state of Assam.
Scientists of Assam Agricultural University said that the Rugos Spiralling whitefly (Aleurodicus rugioperculatus) has affected over five thousand plants, mostly coconut trees across 450 hectares of land in Kamalapur agricultural circle of Kamrup district.
They also said that whitefly infestation has also spread across Nalbari and Darrang districts too though the actual damage is yet to be estimated.
The report of whitefly infestation of crops was spotted for the first time in Assam and scientists are of the opinion that insects might have been carried with the coconut saplings imported from South Indian states.
Whitefly is a tiny bug measuring around 2mm in size with a light yellow body and white wings that feeds on the underside of coconut leaves and suck the plant’s sap.
Heavy infestation causes yellowing of leaves and ultimately leads to death of the coconut plant.
Whitefly feeds on 200 host plants like areca nut, mango, banana, guava etc and excessive feeding leads to excretion of honeydew which causes the formation of sooty mould in the plants, reports TOI.
The sooty mould damages the photosynthetic efficiency of the plants and damages it.
The scientists will now be facing tough challenge of eliminating these destructive insects before they cause serious damage.