Biological Control of Gall Disease

IPMA and Bangalore based National Bureau for Agriculturally Important Insects (under ICAR) joined hands to introduce new technology to combat the Eucalyptus Gall disease.

Having affected large plantations in various countries, the gall disease had reached Indian shores and had started affecting eucalyptus plantations in different pockets of the country. Chemical therapy had not proved to be very effective in curbing the menace. The new technology entailed eco-friendly and biological control of the Gall pest (a wasp) by introducing a parasitic wasp (parasitoids).

In an initiative taken by IPMA, a team of five scientists from NBAII, Bangalore, Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB), Coimbatore and IPMA participated in the first international workshop on the control of the eucalyptus gall wasp at Jerusalem, Israel.

A workshop was jointly organized by PDBC and IPMA at Bangalore to disseminate the knowledge on Eucalyptus Gall awareness and mitigation. The workshop discussed the issues such as awareness on eucalyptus gall disease, control measures – chemical (insecticide, pesticides, pheromones etc), developing resistant varieties for eucalyptus gall disease, discussion on how Israel controlled the gall attack and way forward – how to multiply the parasitoids and spread it fast to control the gall insect in India.

The workshop brought together representatives from all the major scientific institutions involved in forestry and leading industry players including Institute of Wood Sciences & Tech, Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding, Univ. Agri Sci., Andhra Pradesh Agri Univ., Tamil Nadu Agri univ and executives from leading paper manufacturers in the country.

Two introductions of parasitoids took place from Israel to India one in October 2008 and the other in Feb 2010. The emergence was first recorded in quarantine lab at NBAII and later the plants were kept in cages. Nothing was noticed for a long time and all hopes were lost. But in early May 2010, profusion of parasitoids were noticed and it was decided to distribute the insects.

IPMA members and select research institutes were accordingly  given eucalyptus live plants with parasite and parasitoids as well as insects in glass bottles for introduction in the respective areas. NBAII also scheduled few visits to the IPMA member mills nurseries and plantation sites to oversee the naturalization process. The objective was to spread the insect as far as wide and as quickly as possible in India so that the eucalyptus gall disease is controlled faster.