Kurikong Infests Mango Farms in Central Luzon
Not many noticed the decrease in mango harvests from Central Luzon last summer. Mango growers from Bulacan and Nueva Ecija, however, felt the difference with last season’s harvests falling behind expected yield due to a pest called cecid fly or gall midge.
This fly, known as ‘saksak walis’ or `kurikong’ in Luzon, `buti,’ or `armalite,’ ‘Gloria-gloria,’ or ‘Nora-nora’ in the Visayas and Mindanao, infests mango farms across the country.
The adult mango cecid fly resembles a mosquito and commonly lays its eggs on young mango leaves. The larvae which develop from eggs, mine the leaves producing dark green circular galls or swelling of tissues along the leaf blade. When the adults emerge from these galls, the leaves develop circular spots or holes which are sometimes mistaken as fungal infection. Under heavy infestations, the leaves wrinkle and turn yellow.
The infestation, however, affects the fruits more. When hit early, young mango fruits fall off from the tree. Fruits that remain produce circular brown scab-like spots randomly distributed on the fruit’s surface. Infested fruits retain these scabby lesions up to harvest time, thus affecting the quality and commanding a lower market price.
Experts advise farmers to prune crowded mango tree branches after harvest to avoid cecid fly infestation.
The pest was found to be sensitive to sunlight hence pruning would serve as a control measure. Cleaning the surrounding areas or under brushing is also recommended as adult flies do not actually stay permanently on the mango trees but on wild vegetation growing nearby. Infested leaves and fallen fruits should also be collected, burned, or sprayed with insecticide to prevent the spread to other trees.
Likewise, bagging of fruits from 55 to 60 days after flower induction also prevents fruit damage. Spraying of surrounding vegetation would help lessen or destroy adult cecid fly population.
The control of mango cecid fly is a subject of research being carried out by PCARRD under its proposed National Mango R&D program.
Angelito T. Carpio, The PCARRD Monitor