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“Kurikong” Infests Mango Farms In Central Luzon

Not many have noticed that there was a decrease in mango harvests from Central Luzon this summer. Mango growers from Bulacan and Nueva Ecija, however, felt the difference with this season’s harvests ailing behind the expected yield. The culprit is the pest called cecid fly or gall midge. These flies caused infestation in mango arms across the country and are also known by many names such as “saksak walis” or “kurikong” in Luzon, and “buti,” armalite,” “Gloria-gloria,” or “Nora-nora” a the Visayas and Mindanao.

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 he adults emerged from these galls, the paves produced circular spots of holes, which are sometimes mistaken as fungal infection. Under heavy infestations, the leaves wrinkle and become 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 scablike spots, which are randomly distributed on the fruit’s surface. Infested fruits retain these scabby lesions till they are up for harvest, thus affecting their quality and commanding a lower market price.

Experts from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) advise farmers to prune crowded mango tree branches after harvest to avoid cecid flies’ infestation. Cecid flies were found to be sensitive to sunlight hence pruning would discourage them from staying on the trees. Cleaning the surrounding areas and underbrushing is also recommended as adult flies do not actually stay permanently on the mango trees but on the 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 days to 60 days after flower induction could also help prevent their damage. Spraying of surrounding vegetation would help lessen or destroy adult cecid fly population.

The control of mango cecid fly is a subject of a research being carried out by PCARRD under its proposed National Mango Research and Development Program.

By Angelito T. Carpio, S&T Media Service