HomeCropBreaking the Mealybug Barrier: Key Strategies for Sustainable Cotton Farming 

Breaking the Mealybug Barrier: Key Strategies for Sustainable Cotton Farming 

Are you noticing the presence of white fluffy masses on the lower side of your cotton leaves with waxy secretions? If so, it is evident that you may be currently dealing with a mealybug infestation in your cotton fields.  

Mealybugs are notorious pests that can cause significant damage to your cotton crops. Their feeding can result in discoloration and stunted growth. However, there’s no need to panic! We are here to provide you with guidance on effective management strategies to combat mealybugs. Read on further to learn about these management strategies.  

Type of Infestation

Cotton Mealybugs feed on the sap of cotton plants. 

Scientific Name: Phenacoccus solan 

Most Affected States

Cotton Mealybugs are widely distributed across India, and they are known to cause damage to cotton crops in several states, including Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat. 

Symptoms of Cotton Mealybug

Cotton Mealybugs infest the cotton crops during both vegetative and reproductive stage. 

  • Plants which are infested during vegetative stage show distorted or bushy shoots and crinkled or twisted bunchy leaves. 
  • Affected plants become dry and exhibit stunted growth. 
  • Infestation during reproductive stage of the crop results in late opening of bolls, reduced plant vigour and early crop senescence. 
  • The presence of white fluffy mass of mealybugs can be seen on the lower side of the leaves, near the growing tips and stems with waxy secretions. 
  • Cotton mealybugs also secrete a honeydew substance, which attracts other pests and can lead to the growth of sooty mould on cotton plants. 

Control Measures

A combination of different control measures is often required to effectively manage mealybug infestations in cotton crops. The following are some common IPM practices used to control mealybugs. 

Cultural Measures

  • Eradicate the alternate weed hosts like Parthenium, Abutilon etc. in and around the cotton field. 
  • Avoid using excessive quantities of nitrogenous fertilizers. 
  • After the harvest, remove and burn the leftover cotton stubbles. 
  • Maintain healthy plant growth by providing proper irrigation and adequate nutrients to reduce the impact of mealybugs on cotton plants. 

Mechanical Measures

  • Collect and destroy the infested plant parts. 
  • Remove and burn the dried or dead cotton plants to reduce the further spread of pest incidence. 

Biological Measures

  • Encourage natural predators like ladybird beetles, green lacewing, hoverflies to prey on the cotton mealybugs by increasing crop diversity 
  • Also release parasitoid wasps and encyrtid parasitoid, Aenasiusbam bawaeli to keep the cotton mealybug population in check. 
  • Greenpeace Neemol Bio Neem Oil Insecticide contains neem-based products azadirachtin which when used at the rate of 1-2 ml per liter of water with 15 days interval between each spray can effectively control mealybugs in cotton fields. 
  • Kaybee Mealy Raze Bio Pesticide contains natural plant extracts which when sprayed affects the internal nervous system of mealybugs, leading to paralysis and death. The recommended dosage for cotton is 1-2ml per liter of water. 
  • Amruth Alestra Liquid (Bio Insecticide) contains strains of naturally occurring entomopathogenic fungus Verticillium lecanii which comes in contact with the cuticle of the cotton mealybugs and colonizes them. The recommended dosage is 2ml per liter of water. 

Chemical Measures

Insecticides that can be used to control cotton mealybugs are mentioned in the table below, 

Product Name  Technical Content  Dosage 
Sivanto Bayer Insecticide   Flupyradifurone 17.5% SL  2 ml/lit of water  
Cropnosys Chivas Insecticide Granules   Thiamethoxam 25 % WG   0.3-0.5 gm/lit of water  
Odis Insecticide  Buprofezin 20% + Acephate 50% WP  2 gm/lit of water 
Starthene Insecticide  Acephate 95% SG   1-1.5gm/lit of water  
Hunk Insecticide  
Rogor Insecticide  Dimethoate 30% EC  1-2 ml/lit of water 
Confidor Insecticide   Imidacloprid 17.8 % SL    0.75 to 1 ml/lit of water  
Hifield AG Pyramid Insecticide   Acetamaprid 20% SP   0.5gm/lit of water  
Token Insecticide   Dinotefuran 20% SG   0.2-0.3 gm/lit of water  
Curacron Insecticide   Profenofos 50% EC   4 ml/lit of water 

 

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