Tarssus XP for the ecological control of sucking insects in Pineapple

In 2020 the Philippines exported almost 600 thousand tonnes of pineapples with a value of about US$300 million.  Most of that volume is processed pineapple in cans or in other forms, while the balance is of fresh pineapple.

Several pests are known to damage and reduce the yield and quality of pineapple fruit. Some of these pests are as follows:

(a) Mealybugs (Dysmicoccus brevipes Cockerel): infest all plant parts, from the crown of the fruit all the way down to the roots. Aside from its damage in plants by sucking the sap, it is also a vector of the Closterovirus causing the mealybug wilt (MBW).

(b) Scale insects like California Red Scale (Aonidiella aurantii Maskell), Florida Red Scale (Chrysomphalus aoinidum Linn), Fern Scale (Pinnaspis aspidistrae Signoret) or Coconut scale (Aspidiotus destructor Signoret): these scale insects suck plant sap mainly on the under-surface of the leaves, which consequently turn yellow or dry up.

(c) Pineapple mite (Steneotarsonemus ananas Tyron) or Pineapple flat mite

(Dolichotetranychus floridamus Banks): infest the leaves and cause browning and in severe infestation, the affected plants become stunted.

These pests have been traditionally controlled by organophosphate insecticides which are now becoming out of favour because these pesticides act on acetylcholinesterase a neurotransmitter enzyme found in the brain.

In March 2022 Tarssus XP was registered for the control of scale insects, mealybugs, and mites in Pineapple. Trials demonstrated equal if not better control than traditional control programs.  Moreover, the biorational nature of Tarssus XP means it features no safe term and no pre-harvest interval (PHI) which is potentially significant especially for fresh pineapple exports. Currently used pesticides are usually organo-phosphates which have a PHI of 14-30 days in which period sucking insect infestation can occur, which can lead to rejected fruits.