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Sugarcane Woolly Aphid, Ceratovacuna lanigera Zehntner (Homoptera : Pemphigidae) in South Karnataka

A.K. Chakravarthy and D. Rajanna

Zonal Agricultural Research Station, VC Farm, Mandya 571 405,
Karnataka, India

Sugarcane woolly aphid appeared in an epidemic form at Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur, Maharashtra and at Sankeshwar, Raibagh, Nipani and Athani in Northern Karnataka during July and August, 2002, respectively (Patil et al., 2003; Patil, 2003). In Karnataka (S. India), woolly aphid was detected at Harihara, Davengere in June, 2003 at Kachagundanahally village, Devarahalli, Bhadravathi, Shimoga on 18th June, 2003; at Karchuchi, Lakkavalli, Tarikere, Chikmagalur on 12th November 2003; at Malleshwara, Kasba hobli, Kadur, Chikmagalur in February, 2004; at Vadakahalli, Kikkeri, K.R. Pet, Mandya on 16th February, 2004; at holanahalli, Channarayapatna, Hassan on 20th Feb. 2004 and at Doddamulugudu, T. Narasipura, Mysore on 26th February, 2004. Sugarcane woolly aphids have also been detected in Krishna river basin in Bagalkot in Bijapur during December 2002; at Gangavathi, Raichur; at Arabhavi, Haveri in Gokak; at Chinnur, Kopala; at Maskal, Baddrehalli and at Hiriyur in Chitradurga; Vani Vilas belt in Harihara more or less almost during the same period. The woolly aphid has also been recorded on 11th March 2004 in Maddur, Mandya. However, the woolly aphid colonization and infestation on sugarcane appeared to have begun at most places much before it was detected, at least two to three months earlier. Woolly aphid seem to have spread (assuming a straight line, although in nature it does not so occur)/ traversed ca.600-700km in 21 months (on an average @ 1km/day). The spread cannot be attributed to natural factors alone, but mostly to anthropogenic activities connected with cane production, trade and utilization. Shortage of water, warm dry conditions and gaps in cultivation of sugarcane seem to have disfavoured aphid build up on sugarcane.

In South Karnataka, Co. 419, Co. 86032, Co. 62175, Co. 8371 and Honnavara local canes have been infested by the woolly aphids. No natural enemies recorded as the aphid infestation has been found mostly in small, isolated patches. Farmers have applied insecticides to contain population but not before the pest dispersing to neighbouring cane plots/patches. Selected observations on aphid colony at Lingapura, K.R. Pet, Mandya were recorded before insecticidal application. On an average, each leaf of Co. 62175 cane measured 1.66 m in length (n=45 leaves) and aphids occupied 0.72 m2 of leaf under surface.

To determine vertical distribution of aphids, the plant height was divided into bottom, middle and top portions. At bottom portion, on an average (n=18 clumps) aphids colonized one leaf; at middle portion, 5.4 leaves and at top portion 2.6 leaves, suggesting that aphids preferred the leaves at middle portion. Within the undersurface of leaf, aphids covered 2.3% leaf length at the tip, 83% at mid portion and 7.7% at the base (n=45 leaves) indicating preference for the middle portion of the leaf. The aphid colony enlarged from the mid portion of the leaf undersurface. At Cholanahalli, Channarayanapatna, Hassan however aphids started colonizing the undersurface of CO 8371 leaf from the margins.

Currently, for South Karnataka, monitoring and networking of sugarcane woolly aphids, destroying small aphid colonies, burning affected plant parts and search for natural enemies are under progress. The aim is to ensure that aphid colonised patches do not serve as source for further spread of the pest.

Authors thank Director of Research, UAS, GKVK, Bangalore and Prof. C.A. Virakthamath (UAS, GKVK), Associate Director of Research, VC Farm, Mandya and Dept. of Agriculture, Karnataka for encouragement.


Patil, R.K., Ramegowda, G.K. and Rachappa, V. 2003. Insect Environment 9(2) : 57-58.

Patil, N.G. 2003. Insect Environment, 9(2): 74-75.



Ceratovacuna lanigera Zhnt.

(=Oregma; Cerataphis saccharivora Mats.)

Common name. Sugarcane Wooly Aphid
Family. Pemphigidae
Hosts (main). Sugarcane
(alternative). Wild cane (Saccarum Sponteneum), and Miscanthus spp.

(Gramineae). Damage. Heavy infestations on the underneath of leaves of white waxy aphids cause a loss of plant sap, and sometimes heavy sooty mould infestation occurs on the fofliage. In Taiwan young plants may be killed by heavy infestations.

Pest status. Within its area of occurrence it is quite a common pest but does little damage and control measures are seldom required. However it has been recorded causing an estimated 20% loss of yield in China (Kwangsi and Fukien) and Taiwan.

Life History. The infesting population normally consists of winged and apterous, viviparous and parthenogenetic females, and each female produces 15-35 young which are copiously covered with waxy filaments.

In China it was found that the population peak was in October and November, when damage to the cane was done, and winged females, produced in the middle of November, moved over to Miscanthus grasses growing wild around sugarcane fields where hibernation took place. The apterae on the sugarcane ide in the early frosts. Crop infestations reappeared in Jine and then declined to a low level after July, presumably because of the summer temperatures.

Distributions. From India through mainland S.E. Asia to China and Taiwan, and the Philippines and Java.

Control. In the early study in China (1944-5) adequate control was achieved using sprays of nicotine, soap solution and an oil emulsion.

Normally this insect is preyed upon by many species of Coccinellidae, lacewings, lycaenid larvae and syrphid larvae, which together keep most aphid populations in check. In Taiwan (Pan, 1980) the damage to young plants by wooly aphid is sufficiently serious that pesticides have to be used, and adequate control has been achieved by foliar sprays of malathion and demet on-S-methyl.


Hill D.S 1987



(Developed by Agricultural University, Dharwad, Karnataka)

1. Name of the Taluka :

2. Name of the District :

3. Rainfall Pattern

4. Area under sugarcane cultivation in hectares Fresh cane Ratoon :

5. Major source of irrigation with area in hectares

  • Canal :

  • Borewell :

  • Lift irrigation :

  • Others :

6. Method of planting (approximate area)

  • Close planting:

  • Wide row planting :

  • Patta :

  • Others :

7. Fertilizer application / ha (KG): N P K FYM





8. Major pests of the taluka and per cent incidence :

  • Sugarcane woolly aphid (SWA)

  • Stembore

  • Early shootborer

  • Top shootborer

  • Pyrilla

  • Mealy bug

  • Root grub

  • Any other pests

9. First notice of SWA in the taluka and area affected during different months of the year

Month Jan03 Feb03 Mar03 Apr03 May03 Jun03 Jul03 Aug03 Sep03 Oct03 Nov03 Dec03 Jan04 Feb04



10. Severity of the pest: 1 Grade, 2 Grade, 3 Grade, 4 Grade

Note :

1. Grade : 1.25% of area covered by SWA

2. Grade : 26.50% leaf covered by SWA

3. Grade : 51-75% leaf area covered by SWA

4. Grade : 76-100% leaf area covered by SWA

Severity of the pest noticed during

11. Major natural enemies noticed :

  • Dipha aphidivora

  • Micromus sp.

  • Chrysoperla

  • Coccinellidae

  • Syrphids

  • Spiders


12. High population of natural enemies noticed during , ., ., .,.,months

13. Control measures taken by the farmers

  • Chemical control

  • Release of natural enemies

  • No plant protection

  • Irrigation and nutrient management

  • Others

14. Efforts made by the department to manage the pest:

15. Remarks if any:


Proceedings of Group Meeting on Sugarcane Woolly aphid.

ZARS, VC Farm, Mandya,

The sugar factories in and around Mandya and Mysore urged us to call all the concerned for meeting on Sugarcane Woolly Aphid as it is a new pest and chalkout a plan for it management on a community basis. Accordingly a meeting on 5th May, 2004 was convened at ZARS, VC Farm, Mandya. In this meeting, all the 12 sugar factories operating in southern Karnataka, all the JDAs and ADAs of the ten districts in Southern Karnataka, Entomologists and Sugarcane scientists of ZARS, Mandya were requested to participate. The objectives of the meeting were

1. To exchange and update information on sugarcane woolly aphids

2. To create awareness on sugarcane woolly aphids in the region.

3. To develop action plan for the management of sugarcane woolly aphid.

Mr. Rajanna, Junior Entomologist, ZARS, VC Farm, Mandya made a LCD presentation on bioecology and Management options for sugarcane woolly aphid (SWA). Participants raised a number of queries and discussed at length the protection measures against SWA, status of SWA in Maharashtra and North Karnataka and the crop protection measures adopted.

Dr. A.K. Chakravarthy, Chief Scientific Officer (Entomology), ZARS, VC Farm, Mandya interacted with participants on the modus operandi for net working, creating awareness among farmers and initiating and implementing research and extension priorities. All participants agreed on the following decisions.

1. Since SWA is a new past insect, JDA of concerned districts in South Karnataka (Mandya, Mysore, Chamarajanagar, Hassan, Chickmangalur, Shimoga, Davanagere, Chitradurga, Bangalore Rural and South Kanara) should make all efforts to create awareness and give wide publicity on SWA.

2. CD developed by Mr. D. Rajanna on SWA to be supplied to all the concerned JDAs and sugar factories, immediately.

3. Concerned sugar factory personnel and Agricultural Department Officials to form teams and monitor the pest, create publicity campaigns and awareness, distribute literature, posters, etc. on SWA upto Panchayat level. ZARS, VC Farm, Mandya scientists to also participate in this effort, whenever possible. Team members to interact with farmers too.

4. All observations and field visits to be documented in the format (received from the Director of Research, UAS, Dharwad) supplied and a copy to be sent to the undersigned for compilation, analysis and interpretaion.

5. Entomologists, ZARS, VC Farm, Mandya to give Radio talks, TV programmes, popular write-ups with a copy circulated to all the concerned in S.Karnataka, develop websites and coordinate activities of the group.

6. Entomologists, ZARS, Mandya were asked to develop research based technology on mass production and evaluation of natural enemies and plant products against SWA. But Entomologists opined that unless some funds are provided, research initiatives cannot be taken up. So they were asked to develop the project proposal on natural enemies and plant products.

7. Group meetings to be convened once in three months by the undersigned. Core group may meet as per the need comprising JDAs one ADA (SMS) from each district, one representative from each sugar factory and the entomologists, ZARS, Mandya.

8. All Group members were asked to exchange and update information on SWA from time to time.

After lunch, participants visited SWA infested plots in Doddamulugodu, T. Narasipur, Mysore where interestingly Syrphids (?) eggs of neuroptera, fungal pathogen (?) and pupae of Conobathra aphidivora, the natural enemies of SWA were located.


A Press conferance was held in Mandya, Karnataka on Woolly aphids to apraise farmers and officials on the status of the aphid on sugarcane. It was informed that canes below six months holding large aphid population without natural enemies have to be treated either with thimet 10G granules or spray chloro pyriphos 20EC at the rate of 2ml per lt of water. There is no need to panic if the canes are more than 8-9 months old or if aphid population on cane is just building up. Maintaining a 5 feet distance between rows and balanced application of manure and fertilizers would go a long way in managing the pest

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