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Sugarcane Woolly Aphid, Ceratovacuna lanigera

Sugarcane Woolly Aphid, Ceratovacuna lanigera

Sugarcane woolly aphid is a foliage sucking pest has been reported from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, throughout East and South East Asia, Fizi and Solomon IseLands. In India it has been reported from both tropical (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujrat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu) and subtropical belts (Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Uttranchal, westen Uttar Pradesh and Haryana). Woolly aphid earlier was known to be minor pest in India has now assumed the status of economic pest after its severe outbreak in Maharashra during July 2002

Taxonomic Position

Class : Insecta
Order : Hemiptera
Sub order : Homoptera
Family : Aphididae
Sub family : Hormaphidinae
Some entomologist use the family Pemphigidae but the family Aphididae have been recognized for this insect.

Cottony growth of woolly aphid on sugarcane leaf

Host Plant

Primary Host Plant: Sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum

Other Host Plant: Miscanthurs sinensis, Saccharum graninum, Saccharum spontaneum, Pennisetum sp., Sorghum helpanse and Echinicloa crusgali.

The alate adult females of C. Lanigera migrate from wild hosts to cultivated noble canes and growing sugarcane to newly planted seedlings.

Morphological Characters

Nymph: First instar nymphs produced by alate females are relatively active, have long, elliptical bodies and are pale greenish white in colour, whereas, those produced by apterous females have elongated ovoid bodies (0.76 mm long and 0.39 mm wide) and are pale yellowish white in colour. As nymph develops the dorsum is gradually covered by a white powdery secretion. Developed colonies looked like a white woolen mass and that is why this aphid is referred to as woolly aphid.

Adults: The apterous adult female is 1.78 mm long and 1.07mm wide with a very soft, board, laterally depressed body which is densely covered by white, cotton like secretions. Fifth and sixth segment of abdomen bears circular cornicles which secrets waxy material.

The alate adult is 2.10 mm long and 6.5 mm wide with the wings expended. The head is black with enlarged brick red eyes. The antennae have two thick basal segment and a flagellum composed of 4 segments. There are two tarsal segments with paired claws. The forewing is very large and has three oblique veins emerging from subcostal vein. The hind wing is small with two oblique veins.

Magnified image of Ceratovacuna lanigera


The sexual phase is not known. Woolly aphid is often parthenogenic (Thaleotoky type of Parthenogenesis) reproducing viviparousaly (live birth). Ova within a viviparous reproducing female starts to develop immediately after ovulation, which means that an embryo can exist inside another larger and mature embryo. These modes of reproduction provide an exceedingly rapid turn aver of generations.

Nymph: Depending upon the temperature and relative humidity the nymphal stage varies from 15.8 - 16.5 (min) days to 23 - 32 (max) days of apterous, whereas of alate form the period is little longer i.e. upto 40 days. In the early moving hours the young nymphs move fast in mass either to the another leaf surface or on the same leaf and arrange themselves separately on the lower surface of the leaf in 3-4 rows near to midrib. There is no definite system of their settlement but during early growth period of cane (young stage) lower leaves are more preferred for their establishment, because they do not relish sun.

Adult: The female produces 2-5 nymphs per day for 20.5 to 24.1 days. On an average 41.0 to 56.6 offspring are produced by one apterous female. The young nymphs become adult in about 17 days and start reproduction. Thus they increase in numbers in geometrical proportion resulting in enormous population.

Nature of Damage and Extant of Losses

Woolly aphid feed on sugarcane by inserting their stylets through the stomata of the plants leaves. Both nymphs and adults suck the cell sap from lower surface of leaves. They suck the sap from phloem. They excrete large amount of honey dew which falls on the leaves giving them a sticky coating on which black sooty mould (Capnodium sp.) develops making the leaves look all black. Due to the thick coating of sooty mould process of photosynthesis is significantly hampered in severely infested plants, thereby, considerable reduction in cane yield (25%) and sucrose content (26.71%), whereas, during the early growth period plants may die.

Natural Enemies

Chemical Control



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