How wasps are used to control the destructive cowpea pest—Maruca vitrata

6 March 2020

International Year of Plant Health 2020Maruca vitrata, also known as Maruca pod borer, is one of the most devastating insect pests of cowpea in Africa. Its larvae stage, the caterpillar, is the most destructive and attacks flowers and pods of various legumes causing up to 80% yield loss. Farmers resort to inappropriate pesticide applications with some spraying the legume as many as six times in a planting season, which is  two months. Extensive pesticide use is harmful to humans and the environment because the beans have pesticide residues which affect human health when consumed. Also, the extensive pesticide application  discriminately kills other beneficial insects. IITA scientists based in Cotonou Benin, led by Manuele Tamò an insect ecologist, are using biocontrol to deal with this destructive pest. Biocontrol is the use of natural enemies to fight a pest. In this video, Manu explains the process of using a natural enemy – a wasp—to fight the destructive Maruca vitrata pest in cowpea.