Insect pests: help from Mother Nature

June 12, 2012 at 6:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Hessian fly ‘rearing room’ at Tel Hadya provides a regular supply of pests, and a testing environment to evaluate resistance in wheat genotypes

Insect pests cause substantial yield losses every year. ICARDA’s integrated pest management approach combines genetic resistance, environment friendly biocontrol methods, and cultural practices. This season, more than 2000 genotypes of different crops were screened for resistance to various pests: Sunn pest, Russian wheat aphid, Hessian fly and sawfly in wheat; barley stem gall midge in barley; Sitona in lentil; and leaf miner in chickpea. Screening is conducted under controlled conditions in some cases – for example, in ‘cages’ for Sunn pest, and in insect rearing rooms for Hessian fly.

At least 27 accessions of bread and durum wheat showed high levels of resistance to Sunn pest at the vegetative stage, which causes several hundred million dollars worth of crop damage each year. Wild relatives of cultivated crops also provided important sources of resistance. For example, in Aegilops genotypes, 17 were resistant to Russian wheat aphid, and 29 to Hessian fly. Biocontrol research focused on the use of fungi such as Beauveria bassiana, which proved effective against Sunn pest.

For more information contact Dr Mustapha El-Bouhssini, entomologist, email


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