Armillaria mellea is a plant pathogen and a species of Honey fungus. It causes Armillaria root rot in many plant species. The mushrooms are edible but some people may be intolerant to them The fungus produces mushrooms around the base ofthe banana tree it has infected.

As the fungus causes root rot, symptoms also appear in the crowns of infected banana tree  as death and dieback of the branches.This species is capable of producing light via bioluminiscence.

Small reddish-brown to almost black oval shaped aphids. Aphids have two characteristic projections from the rear of the abdomen. Colonies of adult and immature stages are found on the pseudostem (of banana plants) under the leaf bracts and between the bunch bracts and the branch stalk.

Colonies can also be found in the unfurled top leaves of young plants and suckers or under leaf bases near ground level. Winged forms have prominent forewings with dark pigmented veins.

Nymphs resemble adults but are slightly smaller and do not have wings.

Direct feeding damage is uncommon. Damage from excessive honeydew and the resultant sooty mould development occurs only rarely and only when populations build up to high levels.

Natural predators such as ladybird beetles, hoverflies, earwigs and lacewings usually maintain low aphid populations.

Spray only if aphid problem is severe. Avoid regular spraying as this will remove beneficial insects and may induce other pest problems.

 

Banana flower thrips are major pests in South East Queensland and northern New South Wales and minor in northern Queensland.

Thrips cause corky scab, which is primarily a problem in the drier banana-growing areas. In northern Queensland thrips are active throughout the year. Fruit harvested in winter or spring is usually the most affected, indicating that the period of greatest activity is after the wet season.

Fruit damage is caused by feeding and oviposition. Feeding damage results in slightly raised areas on the fruit that are grey-brown to grey-silver at first. They develop to form the corky raised areas of brown corky scab. Damage is confined in most cases to the outer curve of the fruit, particularly near the cushion end where the fruit finger joins the bunch stalk.

In severe infestations, damage can spread to other areas of the fruit. Bottom hands (closest to the male flower) are most at risk, but in severe cases, damage can extend to cover most of the bunch.

Oviposition on young fruit produces minute raised spots with a dark central tip on the fruit surface. This damage has little economic importance since it becomes almost unnoticeable as the fruit develops and matures.

No direct relationship between thrips numbers and subsequent damage is evident indicating that other factors, apart from pest numbers, are important in determining fruit damage.

A range of predatory bugs, ladybird beetles and lacewings assist in reducing thrips populations.

Removal of the male 'bell' where adult thrips move after all hands are exposed, may help in reducing thrips populations. This approach has not been evaluated. Evidence from observations and growers' reports suggest that overhead irrigation prevents corky scab in most situations.

Bunch injection with insecticide to control scab moth has been very successful in preventing corky scab development in northern Queensland. Treatments should concentrate on bunches which emerge during the period of maximum thrips activity (usually December to March), or at other times if previous experience has demonstrated a different activity period.

Throat applications to the emerging bunch have only proved partially successful. Cover sprays are not recommended because of disruption to beneficial species.

Banana Fruit Caterpillar(Tiracola plagiata)

Minor and sporadic. Usually attack bunches on the edges of a plantation, near scrub or rainforest.

Larvae feed on both foliage and fruit. Large larvae feed deep into the fruit while smaller, younger larvae feed on the rind of immature fruit causing irregular-shaped brown patches of damage to exposed fruit surfaces.

The damage is more severe and visible than that caused by the banana scab moth-damage that tends to be shallower and confined to the underside of the fruit where it joins the bunch stalk. Because of their large size, one or two larvae can destroy all the fruit on the bunch.

Examine bunches on 100 trees in known hot spot areas of the crop. Spray if more than five out of 100 bunches are infested. Bunches in rows adjacent to native vegetation are usually more at risk and treatment should be directed to these areas.

No specific controls are usually required since bunch treatments to control sugar cane bud moth and rust thrips provide adequate control of banana fruit caterpillar.

 

 

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The vast majority of the bananas currently grown and consumed were not conventionally bred but are selections made over probably thousands of years from naturally occurring hybrids. Cultivated bananas are very nearly sterile and as a consequence are not propagated from seed but rather through vegetative propagation, primarily suckers as well as more recently micropropagated or tissue cultured bananas. These factors, very old selections, near sterility and vegetative propagation, mean that these bananas have not been genetically improved either for resistance or improved quality and are becoming increasing in affected by serious pests and diseases.

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