The battle that has been taking place in the Valencian Community against the South African cotonet pest (Delettococcus aberiae) seems to offer hopeful results. It's still too early to declare victory but, at the moment, the plague is less visible, it's not so mobile, and isn't putting so much pressure on producers. This could be because the temperatures have not been as high as in 2021 or because the parasite populations are being reduced by the application of pheromones or other treatments," stated the general secretary of the Union of Lauradors, Carles Peris.
"I don't know why it's happening, we'll have to analyze it, but it's very difficult to spot the cotonet in the countryside, we are seeing much less of it," he said. "However, we'll have to wait until summer to see if it has more mobility or if we are really controlling it. The pest usually hits its maximum hatching point at 2,000 degrees of accumulated temperature (from 0°C in January) and now we are at 1,800. We'll soon find out."
Biological control intensifies
New insectariums have already begun releasing ladybugs (Cryptolaemus), which were bred during the winter, and that will join the offspring of the releases made during the previous campaign. These first releases of ladybugs (Cryptolaemus) have taken place in Betxí, Vila-real, and Castelló, where the Irrigation Union has joined the network of useful fauna insectarians of the Ministry of Agriculture, which has received 47 requests from the entire Community for this 2022.
"Cryptolaemus is an insect that was imported long ago to fight the cotonet, a plague that was pestering our citrus fruits back in 1950 or perhaps before. This predator was almost able to end with the cotonet (Planococcus citri) and now we are testing it against the South African cotonet. The results have been interesting, which is why we are collaborating to increase the population levels of this predator in the field to help us to control this pest that is causing real havoc in the production of citrus." From the Union, Peris added: "This insect is helping us, though we do not know by what percentage the cotonet may have decreased."