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Research Article

Insect Pests of Mangifera indica Plantation in Chuping, Perlis, Malaysia

Fauziah Abdullah and Kamarulnizam Shamsulaman

A survey of insect pests of Mangifera indica plantation was conducted between July 2006 and March 2007 in Chuping, Perlis, Malaysia. Day sampling and night observations (with light traps) was carried out to observe the presence of insects on leaves, flowers, fruits and branches of the mango tree. Nine orders of insects belonging to 45 families were observed and this includes Coleoptera, Demaptera, Diptera, Hemiptera, Homoptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, Odonata and Orthoptera. Coleoptera was the most abundant (Margalef index: 4.446) of which 680 belonging to 30 species and 12 families were collected throughout the period of study. Diptera was the most specious (Simpson Diversity index, 0.89). The result of field study showed that during the non-fruiting season 165 individuals of Monolepta bifasciata was recorded probably due to the presence of many young mango shoots during the season. Six adults of R. simulans were also observed in fruiting season including a mating pair. The implications of these results are discussed in relation to the management of insect pests of mango plantation in Malaysia.

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Fauziah Abdullah and Kamarulnizam Shamsulaman, 2008. Insect Pests of Mangifera indica Plantation in Chuping, Perlis, Malaysia. Journal of Entomology, 5: 239-251.

DOI: 10.3923/je.2008.239.251



Mangifera indica (Mango) belongs to the family Anacardiaceae is one of the seasonal fruits widely planted in tropical and subtropical countries of the world. The family Anacardiaceae contains at least 60 genera of which 15 genera were reported in Malaysia (Abidin and Malik, 1996). Mangifera is a common genus in Malaysia and 15 species of the genus are found in Peninsular Malaysia. The commonly planted species are Mangifera indica, M. caesia, M. foetida, M. lagenifera, M. longipetiolata, M. microphylla, M. odorata, M. pentandra and M. quadrifida (Abidin and Malik, 1996).

Singh (1989a) reported that major pollinating insects of mango are from the order Diptera, such as Meliopona species and Syrphus species, Musca domestica, House fly were not much prevalent. However, the presence of beetle especially Coccinella septumpunctata was quite important whereas that of Hymenoptera and honey bee was negligible.

Mango has many pests of which two groups, the homopterans and coleopterans have been implicated as causative agents of many debilities demanding urgent control. About 260 insects have been reported as pests of mango and this include mango hoppers, mango mealy bugs, scale insects, stem and shoot borers, leaf feeders and gall formers (Veeresh, 1989; Pena et al., 1998).

Singh (1989b) and Pena et al. (1998) also reported that Amritodus atkinsoni (Leth), Erosomyia indica Grover and Rhynhaenus mangiferae Marsh were the three major insects affecting flowering and fruiting in Mangifera species.

In Florida, USA, the blossom pests, Frankliniella bispinosa, F. kelliae, Daghbertus species and a complex of microlepidoptera larvae, such as Pococera atramentalis, Platinota rostrana, Pleuroprucha insulsaria, Tallula species and Racheospila gerularia have been found to be the most important pests of mango flowers. The scales, Radionaspis indica and Morganella longispina are common pests of the trunk, branches and buds and severe infestations are manifested by cracking of the bark, exudation of sap and decline of upper branches (Pena, 1993; Pena et al., 1998).

Ithnin and Shamsudin (1996) reported that beetle pest also include Chrysomelidae and Scarabaeidae.

The successful management of these pests become pertinent so as to improve the quality and increase quantity of mango production in Malaysia. Malaysia mango production is very low compared to Indonesia which in year 2000 has 564 metric tones exported (Pitz et al., 2001). However, up till now no information exists on the insect pests of M. indica in Malaysia, thus stalling a better understanding of the management needs of the plantation. The study is therefore aimed at assessing the abundance and diversity of insect pests of mango and to determine the dominant pest of the plantation in Malaysia.


Study Area
Four field studies were conducted between July 2006 and March 2007 at a 70 ha mango Mangifera indica (Variety: Sala) farm in Chuping, Perlis, Malaysia (06.5E N 100.3E E). The trees are of average age between 7 and 9 years except for a farm which is more than 17 years of age and average height of 20 feet.

Trees Grading and Damage Assessment
The trees in the 70 ha farm were observed in order to determine any damage on leaves, flowers, stem and trunk Each tree was assessed and its degree of damage rated as 3 for heavy damage (i.e., >40 damaged branches), 2 for moderate damage (i.e., 30-40 damaged branches), 1 for light damage (i.e., 10-20 damaged branches) and 0 for no damaged branches. The respective trees were then banded with masking tape and marked with different colours on all experimental plots.

Diurnal and Nocturnal Sampling
Day and night observations were made to observe the presence of any insects on leaves, flowers, fruits or branches.

Night observation was done by setting up 20 light traps from 7.00 to 11.00 pm using a 3x3 m white cloth vertically placed half meter from the ground with a 160 Watt mercury lamp placed on the top of the cloth at the middle. A Honda E10i generator was used as a power source. The insects were then collected manually or by net sweeping.

Investigation of Pest Borer from Cut Damaged Trunk of Mangifera indica
During each visit to the plantation, three damaged trees were chosen each from four heavily damaged areas in the plantation. Every damaged branch was cut off from the trees and each branch was cut opened to observe the presence of insect borer.

Collection of Damaged Fruits
During the fruiting season, all fallen, rotten fruits were collected and cut opened to observe the presence of any stage of pest of mango seed and the pests were taken to be identified. The insects collected from the fruits/seeds were preserved in 70% alcohol.

Insect Identification and Calculation of Diversity Index
All the insects sampled were identified either to order, family of species level using the identification keys provided by Triplehorn and Johnson (2005). Identification of samples was also authenticated using the specimens preserved in the Malaysian Department of Agriculture, Kuala Lumpur. Unidentified species were given a code. Margalef index and Simpson index were used to calculate the abundance and diversity.

Margalef index, H = S-1/ln (N)
S = No. of species
N = Total number of individuals in the family

The higher value of Margalef index, the more abundant the species.

Simpson index, D = Σ ni (ni B 1)/N (N B 1)
Simpson diversity index, D` = 1-Simpson index
ni = No. of individuals of species observed
N = Total number of individuals in the family

Value of Simpson index is between 0 to 1. Thus for Simpson Diversity index, the nearer the value is to 1, the more diverse is the species.


Tree Grading
There are 14,156 trees in the 70 ha mango farm and all of them were found with different category of damage. The grading shows that 345 (2.44%) trees were heavily damaged, 788 (5.57%) trees were moderately damaged while 13,023 (91.99%) trees were of light damage.

Insect Abundance and Diversity
Table 1 shows that there were 256 individual insects belonging to 21 species and 15 families observed during the non fruiting season (July to November 2006) while Table 2 shows that 731 individuals belonging to 69 species and 39 families were recorded during the fruiting season (December 2006 to March 2007).

In non fruiting season, the most abundant insect was Odonata with Margalef index of 1.8205, followed by Coleoptera (Margalef index, 1.7276) and Hemiptera (Margalef index, 0.2583). While the most diverse insect was Lepidoptera with Simpson Diversity index of 0.7333 followed by Coleoptera (Simpson Diversity index, 0.18646). The least diverse were Dermaptera, Homoptera, Hymenoptera and Odonata each with Simpson Diversity index of 0 (Table 1).

During the fruiting season, Coleoptera was the most abundant insect with Margalef index of 4.4464 and this was closely followed by Lepidoptera (Margalef index, 3.8343) while the least abundant was Hemiptera with Margalef index of 1.2740 (Table 2). The Table 2 also revealed that the most diverse insect was Lepidoptera with Simpson Diversity index of 0.8898 followed by Diptera (Simpson Diversity index, 0.8897), while the least diverse was Hemiptera with Simpson Diversity index of 0.20399.

Table 1: Diurnal and nocturnal abundance and diversity of insects in M. indica plantation during non fruiting season (July to November 2006)
#: Unidentified family, *: Unidentified species

Table 2: Diurnal and nocturnal abundance and diversity of insects in M. indica plantation during the fruiting season (December 2006 to March 2007)
#: Unidentified family, *: Unidentified species

Table 3: Diurnal and nocturnal abundance and diversity of insects in M. indica plantation during the non fruiting season and fruiting season (July 2006 to March 2007)
#: Unidentified family, *: Unidentified specie

Table 4: Type and number of insect borer (larvae) found in the damaged branches of M. indica in Chuping, Perlis, Malaysia

However, Table 3 shows that throughout the period of study, Coleoptera (Margalef index, 4.446) was the most abundant insect in the M. indica plantation. This was closely followed by Lepidoptera with Margalef index of 3.7780. The most diverse insect was Diptera with Simpson Diversity index of 0.89.

Branch Borer Observation
The type and number of insect larva (borer) found in the damaged branches of M. indica is shown in Table 4. Throughout the study, Rhytidodera simulans larvae, a coleopteran belonging to the family Cerambycidae were found and considered as the most common borer in the plantation. Figure 1 to 3 show the larva of dipteran, coleopteran and lepidopteran found inside the damaged branches of M. indica.

Pests in Damaged Fruits
Fourteen individuals of Lasiodactylus pictus (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) and six individuals of Carpophilus lugubris (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) were collected from the rotten fruits.

Fig. 1: Dipteran larva

Fig. 2: Larva of Rhytidodera simulans (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae)

Fig. 3: Lepidopteran larva


Insect Abundance and Diversity in Mangifera Indica Farm
This study confirms that Coleoptera was the major pest in mango plantation as reported by Veeresh (1989). Beetles have the ability to adapt to different microhabitats even harsh ones. The mango trees at Chuping are 91.99% of light damage (N = 13,023) thus the healthy mango leaves, young shoots, bark, healthy fruits, rotten fruits and rotten seeds all provide various niche explaining the abundance of beetles in the mango plantation. Coleoptera was found abundant during fruiting season when the fruits are big and the farmers does not apply pesticide during fruiting season. Other than having a hard elytra, physiologically, beetles have the ability to build resistance against insecticide as compared to other orders of insects.

Lepidoptera was the second most abundant since there were many mango inflorescenes during the study. Lepidoptera are flower feeders and also penetrate the fruit pulp. Being herbivore, Lepidoptera is important in regulating plant production and plays an important role in pollination for the mango plantation.

Dipterans are among the most common insects that visit flowers. At least 71 dipteran families contain anthophilous species. Flies have been mentioned as pollinators or regular visitors of at least 555 species of flowering plant (Larson et al., 2001) and pollinators of over 100 cultivated plants. This explains why Diptera was the most diverse insects in mango plantation.

Hemiptera was the least abundant. This is not surprising because being sap feeders with sucking mouthparts, the hard tree trunk and branches of the mango trees do not provide niche for Hemiptera to survive. The big mango fruits with thick skin do not also help the sap feeders.

Tritrophic Level and Natural Enemy
In this study, the scarab beetles, Anomala pallida and Apogonia expeditionis and the snout beetles Hypomeces squamosus were found biting on the flowers at night. No natural enemy was seen attacking any of these beetles at any time.

Rhytidodera simulans the major beetle pest of mango (Ithnin and Shamsudin, 1996; Kondo and Razak, 1993) usually attacks the fruiting trees. Adults laid eggs on young branches. In this field study it was observed that the Formicidae often attack larvae of R. simulans. Thus it is considered as the natural enemy of the larvae. It is most probable that tritrophic level of: mango branch → R. simulans → larvae → Formicidae existed here.

The larvae made some holes along the branches to discharge all their faeces. These holes gave an opportunity for Formicids to attack the larvae. From the field studies, mango trees with Formicid ants on their branches, had no larvae inside them. This was confirmed after cutting the branches opened. Formicid was likely to be the natural enemy of the larvae and served to prevent damages naturally caused by R. simulans. Eigenbrode et al. (1995) reported that predators mediate host plant resistance to pests by secreting glossy wax. Formicid ants secrete a liquid which was observed to likely cause damages to mango fruits (Personal communication).

Whitwell (1993) reported that large number of the thrip, Frankliniella species in Dominican mango plantation was preyed upon by the Orius species (Homoptera: Anthocoridae). However in this study no pest/predator/parasitoid complex was found on the mango inflorescences.

Pest of Mango Seed
The presence of Lasiodactylus pictus in the spoilt fruits suggests that the family Nitidulidae is also a pest of mango fruits (Fig. 4).

Balock and Kozuma (1964) reported that the attack on fruits by Sternochetus mangiferae is only at 1%. Hence, the negligible number of S. mangiferae individuals found attacking M. indica in this

Fig. 4: Lasiodactylus pictus (Coleptera: Nitidulidae) in spoilt fruit of mango

Fig. 5: Monolepta bifasciata caught by light trapping

study is not strange. The mango leaf cutter beetle, Deporaus marginatus reported by Ithnin and Shamsudin (1996) was however not observed in this study.

Mass Attack of Monolepta bifacsciata on Young Shoots
The difference noted in the number and type of species encountered between the non-fruiting (July 2006 B November 2006) and fruiting season (December 2006 B March 2007) may be due to the spraying of insecticide to avoid the attack of pests on the young mango shoots during the non-fruiting season. However, during the fruiting season, spraying of insecticide was stopped to avoid contamination of the fruits, thus explaining the mass attack of M. indica by Monolepta bifasciata during this period (Fig. 5). This is similar to the observation of Ithnin and Shamsudin (1996). Kalberer et al. (2001) reported that plants are generally more attractive to leaf beetle when damaged. Kendrick and Raffa (2006) also reported that beetles were attracted to volatiles released from conspecifics feeding on foliage.

Duration of Life Cycle of Rhytidodera simulans
Kondo and Razak (1993) reported that the life cycle of Rhytidodera simulans is about 1 year but the adults have not been seen for 17 years by farmers in Chuping Mango Farms (Personal

Fig. 6: Rhytidodera simulans in mating position. The eggs, yellow in colour are seen in the background

communication). Although many larvae of the insect were found when the damaged tree trunks were examined, adult individuals encountered in February poses a question about the actual duration of its life cycle in mango plantation in Malaysia. It is however probable that with abundant food supply, the larvae may not need to develop to adult stage. It was very rare to observe R. simulans. However in this study, one pair was found in mating position in February 2007 (Fig. 6).


This study found that Coleoptera was the dominant pest in Mangifera indica plantation at Chuping, Perlis, Malaysia as reflected in the high value of Margalef index from July 2006 to March 2007. However, a year-round study is necessary to elucidate the life cycle of all the insect pests observed in the plantation, so as to formulate appropriate strategies for their control. This would in no doubt increase the aesthetic value and quantity of M. indica in Malaysia..


Funding for this project was provided by Vot PPP No. P0140/2006A from University of Malaya, Malaysia.

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