THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The caterpillar
attack on coconut palms has posed a threat to the farmers, especially in the
coastal areas. The parasite breeding stations across the state have been
releasing bio-control agents to protect the yield that declines during
summer. The farmers have approached various Krishi Bhavans and a parasite
breeding station at Parottukonam at Nalanchira here for steps to
control the black-headed caterpillar that eats coconut leaf.
An agriculture official told this newspaper that bio-controlling agents are effective in tackling the menace. “The agriculture department is providing wasps free of cost which would eliminate the larvae of the caterpillar,” he said. In Kollam district, places like K.S. Puram and Alappat were affected by the attack of ‘white fly’ last year. The agriculture department spent Rs 10 lakh to ward off the attack.
This time, Kollam district is also facing caterpillar attack. “The south-west monsoon may eliminate the hot spots. The bio-control agents are goniozus nephantidis and bracon brevicornis, both wasps parasitising on larvae of the caterpillar,” said a department official in Kollam district. The bio-control agents are available at the parasite breeding centres under the agriculture department as well as at Krishi Bhavans.