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INSECT CONTROL IN COFFEE PLANTATIONS

Cicadas in Coffee

Bruno Pinese, Harry Fay & Rod Elder*, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries * Formerly Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries

Coffee-The adult of the cicada (Macrotristria dorsalis) that damages coffee
The adult of the cicada (Macrotristria dorsalis)
that damages coffee
Coffee- Unidentified cicada nymph in soil, sucking sap from a root. Photo by M.S. Moulds.
Unidentified cicada nymph in soil, sucking
sap from a root. Photo by M.S. Moulds.

Description

Adult

Adult M. dorsalis are large insects up to 50mm in length from the head to the end of the wings. The body is orange -brown in colour and they have long sucking mouthparts (proboscis) held flush up under the body when at rest. They are known for their very noisy sound production when they gather in large numbers. They should not be confused with locusts that are grasshoppers that swarm and have chewing moth parts.

Immature stages

The eggs are laid in slits in the bark of small twigs and branches. After the eggs hatch the young nymphs emerge and fall to the ground. They burrow into the soil and attach themselves to plant roots from which they suck sap and extract nutrients. The nymphs are similar in shape to adults except for the lack of wings. They may be confused with a beetle. They can be recognised by their sucking mouthparts. Beetles have chewing mouthparts. Their cast ‘skins’ are common on the lower trunks of trees.

Life history

The egg stage lasts for several months. The nymphs stay in the soil feeding on sap sucked from roots for one up to 17 years depending on the species of cicada. They emerge from the soil in early summer usually after 25 mm or more of rain and climb a meter or so up some object. The nymphal skin splits down the back and the adult emerges. Adults mate and lay eggs and live for only a few weeks.

Distribution

Cicadas are found thoughout Queensland.

Host range

The smaller branches of many trees including coffee and eucalyptus are used for oviposition. Macrotristria prefer to lay eggs on dead dry twigs and even dead weed stalks.

Management

Importance

A minor and sporadic pest. Symptoms can be greatly overcome by good agronomic management.

Damage

The major damage goes unseen in the roots below the soil surface where sap removal can stress trees. Oviposition has only been observed on dead twigs

Action level

Sprays should not be required

Control methods

Cultural

Remove dead branches.

Biological

In some instances, high incidence of cicadas in coffee has been linked to overuse of pesticides indicating that biological control may be important. Ants have been known to eat eggs and young nymphs before they enter the soil.

Chemical

Control of adults may not be effective as reinfestation after spraying can be a problem where large numbers of adult cicadas occur in a district. The use of pesticides can also be counterproductive due to destruction of natural predators.

Recommended chemicals

None.

Note: This information was correct at the time of publication. However, it is the user’s responsibility to ensure that registered agricultural chemicals are used in accordance with legal requirements. (See Further information).

Always read the label.

October 7th, 2010
Topic: AGRICULTURE, Cicadas, FOOD DRINK, FRUIT VEG SMALL CROPS, INSECTS REPTILES, PESTS DISEASES BACTERIA VIRUSES Tags: None

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