Control in commercial banana plantations is mainlychemical, using nematicides with insecticidal activityand specific insecticides applied close to the base of themat. Insecticides are fast acting and efficient.Cyclodiene insecticides were once widely used buteventually abandoned with the development of resistantweevil populations and because of environmentalconcerns. Less persistent organophosphates areavailable but these are more expensive and more toxicto the handler and therefore less suitable for smallholderproduction systems. The banana weevil has now shownthe ability to develop resistance to most classes ofchemicals.Botanical compounds may serve as substitutesfor pesticides. Dipping suckers in a 20% neem
seed solution at planting protectsthe young suckers from weevil attack by reducingoviposition through its repellent effect on adultweevils. Egg eclosion rates may also be lowered inneem-treated plants.
Wherever possible, new production areas should beestablished in uninfested fields using clean plantingmaterial. Tissue cultured plantlets are widely used incommercial banana plantations for pest and diseasecontrol. Where tissue culture is not available, farmersshould pare suckers to remove weevil larvae and eggs.Badly damaged suckers should not be used forplanting. Hot-water treatment has also been widelypromoted for weevil and nematode control.Recommendations suggest immersing pared suckers inhot-water baths of 52-55°C for 15-27 minutes. Thesebaths are very effective in eliminating nematodes, butkill only a third of the weevil larvae. Thus, cleanplanting material is likely to provide protection againstweevil for several crop cycles only.Systematic trapping with pseudostem or rhizomepieces may be effective in reducing populations ofadult banana weevils. However, trapping is labour-demanding and often limited by available materials.Crop sanitation (i.e. destruction of residues) is alsobelieved to eliminate weevil refuges and breeding sitesand to reduce weevil numbers. Currently, no data areavailable on the relationships between differentmethods of crop sanitation and weevil status.
The banana weevil is most important where it is anintroduced pest (e.g. Africa, Australia, the Americas),suggesting that classical biological control may bepossible. Anumber of predaceous beetles have beenfound feeding on banana weevil larvae in the insect’sarea of origin in Southeast Asia. However, attempts tointroduce these natural enemies into other bananagrowing regions have largely met with failure.Research on endemic predators (beetles, earwigs) inAfrica suggest only limited potential for control underfield conditions. By contrast, the myrmicine ants
have reportedly contributed to the successful controlof banana weevil in plantain in Cuba. The ants can beencouraged to nest in pseudostem pieces that can thenbe used for their dissemination. Myrmicine ants arewidespread and may also be important predators onthe weevil in other localities.The use of entomopathogenic fungi (e.g.
) for the controlof banana weevil has been studied since the 1970s.Numerous strains have been screened for activityagainst banana weevil adults and many of these effectmortality of > 90%. However, few data are availableon the performance of candidate strains ofentomopathogens under field conditions. Therefore,the development of efficient and cost-effective fielddelivery systems is probably the most critical areaof research at this time. The entomopathogenicnematodes,
spp., attackboth adults and larvae in the field, but economic costand efficacy only under high weevil populationdensities limit their use on a larger scale for themoment.
Intensive banana weevil damage to rhizome and pseudostem resulting in death of plant
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