Apple codling moth and apple spider mites are one of most serious pests of different fruits, especially its deleterious effects on apple trees, which poses economic threat to apple production in the region. Codling moth was recorded as the most serious insect pest of the apple industry in Balochistan when the project conducted a baseline survey in 2015.

The USAID-funded Phytosanitary Risk Management Programme (PRMP), in collaboration with Agriculture Research Institute (ARI) Quetta, initiated activities to develop and deploy a biological control program for apple codling moth. The aim is to provide safe and healthy apple fruits for human consumption and to develop biological control techniques to control apple codling moth in apple orchards of Balochistan.

The utilization of Trichogramma sp. (egg parasitoid) for codling moth control has been known around the world for more than 20 years. However, this important egg parasitoid was not reported from Pakistan. The PRMP Quetta team successfully explored this biocontrol agent parasitizing eggs of codling moth from its project site in the Dasht district of Balochistan province.

The eggs were brought to the PRMP Biological Control Laboratory Quetta where Trichogramma sp. emergence was observed. The PRMP Quetta team initiated the rearing of Trichogramma sp. on Sitotroga eggs and sought identification of collected specimens from the Natural History Museum in the UK.

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Parasitized codling moth egg by Trichogramma evanescens in apple orchards

The specimens were identified as Trichogramma evanescens which is the third biocontrol agent of apple codling moth collected and being reared under PRMP in Quetta. The identification also confirms that this is the first ever record for Pakistani fauna and a major achievement of PRMP project interventions in Quetta.

Previously, two larval indigenous parasitoids of apple codling moth, namely Dibrachys microgastri and Elasmus sp. nr. johnstoni, were successfully recorded for the first time in Balochistan. They were found to have attacked the larvae of codling moth in corrugated paper technology at two sites. The first utilizing Natural Enemy Field Reservoirs (NEFRs)  at the Agriculture Research Institute (ARI), Sariab Road, Quetta, and the second in corrugated paper technology at a project site in Kuchlak. These biological control agents (BCAs) are being mass produced and released in orchards at project sites in Balochistan.

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Rearing of Trichogramma evanescens on Sitotroga eggs

Dr Sabyan Faris Honey, Project Manager, PRMP, expressed that codling moth was recorded as the most serious insect pest of apple industry in Balochistan, when the project conducted the baseline survey in 2015, and that the discovery of this biocontrol has been made possible due to hard work of PRMP project staff.

In addition, Dr Babar E Bajwa, Regional Director of CABI Central and West Asia, added that while apple codling moth has its deleterious effects on apple trees (which poses economic threat to apple production in the region) CABI is committed to delivering its best for the benefit of farmers in the region.

This involves the empowerment of the farming community through sustainable agricultural practices and the first record of this biocontrol agent is a major breakthrough to further strengthening the biological control programme for the sustainable management of apple pests.

Additional information

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