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Banana Weevil

Banana Weevil

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Published by draculavanhelsing
Cosmopolites sordidus
Cosmopolites sordidus

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: draculavanhelsing on Oct 10, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Réseau international pour l’amélioration de la banane et de la banane plantain, Parc Scientifique Agropolis II, 34397 Montpellier Cedex 5, FRANCE------
Biology and life cycle
The banana weevil
Cosmopolites sordidus 
(Germar,1824) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) is an importantpest of banana, plantain and ensete. The adultweevil is black and measures 10-15 mm. It is freeliving, though most commonly found between leafsheaths, in the soil at the base of the mat orassociated with crop residues. The weevil isnocturnally active and very susceptible todesiccation. Adults may remain at the same mat forextended periods of time, while only a smallproportion will move > 25 m within 6 months. Theweevils rarely fly. Dissemination is primarily throughinfested planting material.The banana weevil is a “k” selected insect with longlife span and low fecundity. Many adults live 1 year,while some survive up to 4 years. On moistsubstrates, the weevil can survive without feeding forseveral months. The sex ratio is 1:1. Ovipositionrates of more than 1 egg/day have been recorded,but, most commonly, oviposition has been estimatedat 1 egg/week. The female places its white, oval eggssingly into holes made by the rostrum. Mostoviposition is in the leaf sheaths and rhizomesurface. Flowered plants and crop residues arefavoured stages for oviposition.The emerging larvae preferentially feed in therhizome, but will also attack the true stem and,occasionally, the pseudostem. The larvae passthrough 5-8 instars. Pupation is in naked cells nearthe surface of the host plant. Developmental ratesare temperature dependent. Under tropicalconditions, the egg to adult period is 5-7 weeks. Eggdevelopment does not occur below 12°C; thisthreshold may explain why the weevil is rarelyencountered above 1600 masl.
Adult banana weevils are attracted by volatilesemanating from host plants. Cut rhizomes areespecially attractive. Therefore, it can be difficult toestablish a new crop in previously infested fields ornear stands supporting heavy infestations. Bananaweevils are attracted to cut rhizomes, making suckersused as planting material especially susceptible toattack. Loss of more than 40% of the plant crop tobanana weevil has been recorded.Banana weevil attack has been reported to interferewith root initiation, kill existing roots, limit nutrientuptake, reduce plant vigour, delay flowering andincrease susceptibility to other pests and diseases.Yield reductions are caused by both plant loss (plantdeath, rhizome snapping, toppling) and lower bunchweights. Toppling, more commonly attributed tonematodes, has been observed under conditions ofhigh weevil attack in the absence of nematodes.
est act eet o. 4
C.S. Gold and S. Messiaen (October 2000)
Mature larvae of the banana weevil 
Cosmopolites sordidus
on a residual rhizome 
   C .   G  o   l   d
Banana weevil levels are often low in a newlyplanted field. With low oviposition rates, populationbuild-up is slow and weevil problems are most oftenencountered in ratoon crops. In one trial, yield lossincreased from 5% in the plant crop to > 40% in thethird ratoon. In areas where bananas or plantains arereplanted after 1-3 years, weevil populations maynot have time to build up to pest levels, even in thepresence of susceptible germplasm.
The banana weevil evolved in Southeast Asia andhas spread to all banana and plantain productionregions in the tropics and subtropics. Weevilproblems appear to be most severe in plantains,highland cooking bananas and ensete. The weevilhas contributed to the decline and disappearance ofhighland cooking banana in parts of East Africa. Peststatus may vary across sites and farms: in one study,100-fold differences in weevil densities were foundamong farms in a single watershed. Weevil peststatus in other groups of bananas is variable. Incommercial Cavendish plantations, the bananaweevil has been reported to be relativelyunimportant.
Control methods
Control methods for banana weevil are likely to varyfrom system to system and reflect the importanceand pest status of the weevil. In commercialplantations, chemical control is the most widespreadmethod for controlling the weevil. Cultural control isvery valuable in preventing the establishment of theweevil and is the only means currently available bywhich resource-limited, small-scale growers canreduce established populations. Biological controlagents (including arthropods and entomopathogenicfungi) are under study and may become important inthe development of integrated strategies for themanagement of the weevil. Resistant clones areknown which may ultimately provide geneticsources of resistance for plantain and highlandbanana breeding programmes.
Adult of banana weevil Banana weevil damage showing distinct larval galleries 
   T .   M  u  s  a   b  y  a  m  a  n  a   C .   G  o   l   d
Chemical control 
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
(Azadirachta indica)
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.
Cultural control 
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.
Biological control 
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
Tetramorium guinense 
Pheidole megacephala 
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.
Beauveria bassiana 
Metarhizium anisopliae 
) 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 
   C .   G  o   l   d

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