Landscape vegetation productivity influences population dynamics of key pests in small avocado farms in Kenya

22 Oct 2020

Avocado (Persea americana Mill.) production contributes to the economic growth of East Africa. However, poor fruit quality caused by infestations of tephritid fruit flies (Tephritidae) and the false codling moth, Thaumatotibia leucotreta (Meyrick), hampers access to lucrative export markets. Remote sensing and spatial analysis are increasingly applied to crop pest studies to develop sustainable and cost-e ective control strategies. In this study, we assessed pest abundance in Muranga, Kenya, across three vegetation productivity classes, viz., low, medium and high, which were estimated using the normalised di erence vegetation index at a landscape scale. Population densities of the oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel) and T. leucotreta in avocado farms were estimated through specific baited traps and fruit rearing. The population density of T. leucotreta varied across the vegetation productivity classes throughout the study period, although not significantly. Meanwhile, B. dorsalis showed a clear trend of decrease over time and was significantly lower in high vegetation productivity class compared to low and medium classes. Ceratitis cosyra (Walker) was the most abundant pest reared from fruit with few associated parasitoids, Pachycrepoideus vindemmiae (Rondani) and Toxeumorpha nigricola (Ferriere).