Mango Stem Borer: Ensuring Healthy Trees with Essential Knowledge

folder_openInsecta, Lepidoptera
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Mango trees are favored for their delicious fruit, but they can also be susceptible to pests. Pests, such as the Mango Stem Borer, can cause significant damage to mango trees, ultimately affecting fruit production. Knowing how to identify and manage these pests is crucial for maintaining a healthy mango tree.

The Mango Stem Borer is a major pest that attacks not only the main stems but also the branches. These borer infestations can lead to branch dieback, weakening the tree and making it more susceptible to other diseases or damage from natural elements. Proper management, including removing affected limbs and maintaining overall tree health, can help reduce the impact of Mango Stem Borers on your trees.

Mango Stem Borer Identification

Life Cycle

  • Eggs: The female longicorn beetle, Batocera rufomaculata, lays eggs in bark or stem crevices of mango trees.
  • Larvae: After hatching, the larvae bore into the tree trunk to feed and grow.
  • Pupae: When fully grown, larvae pupate within their feeding tunnels inside the tree.
  • Adults: Emerging as adult beetles, they mate and continue the cycle.

Stem Borer vs Other Mango Pests

Stem Borer

  • Beetle
  • Bore into tree trunks and feed on wood
  • Large, up to 5 cm

Mango Bud Mite

  • Mite
  • Feed on upper surface of mango leaves
  • Tiny, not easily visible

Physical Features

Longicorn Beetle (Batocera rufomaculata)

  • Long antennae
  • Belongs to longhorn beetles family
  • Dark brown or black with yellow markings
Features Stem Borer Mango Bud Mite
Type Beetle Mite
Size Large (up to 5 cm) Tiny (not easily visible)
Feeding Habit Bore into tree trunks Feed on leaves
Physical Traits Long antennae, yellow spots Tiny, hard to spot without a microscope

Symptoms of Damage

Stem and Branches

  • Loose bark: Affected trees may exhibit loose bark around the damaged areas where the mango stem borer has tunneled.
  • Mud: Mud or frass may be visible near the borer-infested areas on the tree’s stem and branches.

Stem damage can disrupt vascular tissue connections, which are essential for nutrient and water transport within the plant. This may lead to drying of branches and terminal shoots.

Fruits and Shoots

  • Wilting: Terminal shoots of affected trees may exhibit wilting due to disrupted water transport from stem borer damage.
  • Grub: The presence of grub or larvae inside the stems indicates that the tree is infested with mango stem borers.

When the borer damages the tree’s vascular tissues, it affects nutrient and water transport, consequently impacting the growth and health of fruits and shoots. For example, if a mango tree is severely infested with stem borers, its fruit production may significantly decrease, and the overall health of the tree may decline as well.

Treatment and Management

Chemical Control

Chemical control of mango stem borer involves using insecticides. The most commonly used insecticide is monocrotophos. It’s applied to the trunk and branches as a spray, reaching the larvae inside. Another option is aluminum phosphide, used in tablet form.

Pros:

  • Effective in killing larvae
  • Can prevent severe infestations

Cons:

  • Harmful to beneficial insects
  • May have adverse environmental effects

Organic Control

Organic control methods include:

  • Bordeaux paste application: A mixture of copper sulfate, lime, and water is applied to the tree trunk and branches.
  • Kerosene oil treatment: Injecting kerosene oil into borers’ entry holes can kill the larvae.
  • Physical removal: Prune infested branches and burn them to destroy the larvae and pupae.

These organic methods are safer for the environment and less harmful to beneficial insects.

Integrated Approach

For sustainable mango stem borer management, an integrated approach combines chemical and organic techniques:

  • Regular monitoring of tree health
  • Properly timed insecticide application
  • Pruning and burning infested branches
  • Employing organic treatments when possible

This approach reduces chemical dependency while effectively controlling the stem borer population.

Treatment Pros Cons
Chemical Control Effective in killing larvae; prevents infestations Harmful to beneficial insects; adverse environmental effects
Organic Control Safer for the environment; less harmful to beneficial insects May be less effective than chemical control

Preventive Measures

Mango stem borers are caterpillars that damage the shoots and mangoes in their larval stage. To protect your precious fruit, consider these preventive measures.

  • Regular monitoring: Inspect your mango trees frequently to identify any signs of borers, such as holes in the shoots or frass. Early detection helps limit damage.
  • Chemical control: If borers have already infested your tree, apply carbofuran, a chemical pesticide, to combat the infestation. Be cautious, as carbofuran is overly toxic to other organisms.
  • Copper oxychloride paste: Applying this paste on the tree trunks and branches can deter borers. Ensure to cover vulnerable areas, such as cracks and pruning wounds.
  • Cultural practices: Keep your orchard clean and maintain proper hygiene. Remove dead or infested branches, as they can serve as breeding grounds for borers.
  • Natural enemies: Encourage the presence of predators, such as birds and parasitic wasps, to keep borer populations in check.
Method Pros Cons
Regular monitoring Early detection, non-invasive Time-consuming
Chemical control Effective in killing borers Toxic to other organisms
Copper oxychloride Offers a protective barrier May require reapplication
Cultural practices Promotes overall tree health Requires attention and effort
Natural enemies Environmentally friendly May not be sufficient on its own

Remember, the key to success is a combination of these preventive measures, tailored to your situation. Happy mango growing!

Impact on Mango Trees

Mango trees are often affected by various pests, but the stem borer is particularly troublesome. The mango stem borer (Batocera rufomaculata) can cause severe damage to mango trees, resulting in reduced productivity and even death1. This pest poses a threat as mango trees are a major source of vitamin A and are widely cultivated for their fruits.

Damage happens when the stem borer’s larvae bore into the tree trunks. These larvae feed on the sapwood, damaging the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients, ultimately leading to wilting and death2.

Here are some characteristics of the mango stem borer:

  • Larvae are creamy-white with a brown head
  • Adult beetles are large and elongated, with a dark reddish-brown color
  • Most commonly affects mango, but can also infest other fruit trees

The impact of the mango stem borer becomes evident as:

  • Tree wilting
  • Branches dying back
  • Exit holes in the bark from emerging adult beetles
  • Sawdust-like frass near tree trunk

In comparison to other common mango pests like the mango bud mite and stem-end rot, the stem borer causes more structural damage to the tree.

Pros of using chemical methods to control mango stem borer:

  • Effective in managing the infestation
  • In some cases, can prevent future infestations

Cons of using chemical methods to control mango stem borer:

  • Risk of harming beneficial insects
  • Possible environmental impact
  • Potential residue on fruits

Alternative control methods like using pheromone traps, proper pruning, and biological control using natural enemies can help reduce the impact of stem borers on mango trees while minimizing the risks associated with chemical methods.

Current Scenario and Distribution

Nepal

In Nepal, the mango stem borer has emerged as a significant threat to mango cultivation, particularly in the Terai region. The monsoon season exacerbates the issue, as pests like the mango hopper, mango mealybug, mango shoot gall maker, and mango fruit fly flourish in wet conditions, creating an environment ripe for stem borer infestations.

The life cycle of the mango stem borer is closely intertwined with other pests, such as:

  • Mango stone weevil
  • Mango leaf webber
  • Mango leaf-gall maker
  • Red ant

Existing management strategies in Nepal typically focus on biological and chemical controls to curb damage caused by stem borers and other pests.

Other Regions

While the mango stem borer is currently a significant issue in Nepal, it also affects other mango-growing regions across the globe. Here, the pest profile is often similar, with a mix of:

  • Mango hopper
  • Mango mealybug
  • Mango shoot gall maker
  • Mango fruit fly
  • Mango stone weevil
  • Mango leaf webber
  • Mango leaf-gall maker
  • Red ant

Comparison of common mango pests:

Pest Damage Management Strategies
Mango stem borer Attacks stem and weakens tree Biological, chemical
Mango hopper Sucks sap from leaves Chemical, pruning
Mango mealybug Sucks sap, causing leaves to curl Chemical, biological
Mango shoot gall maker Causes galls on shoots Pruning, chemical
Mango fruit fly Infests fruits, making them inedible Chemical, trapping

Grub tunnels from the mango stem borer are particularly destructive. These tunnels may serve as entry points for other pests such as the mango mealy bug, resulting in compounding damage to the tree and fruit.

In conclusion, the mango stem borer is a widespread threat that requires targeted management strategies to protect mango trees and crops.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/control-alternatives-for-borer-pests-of-tree-fruits
  2. https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/stlucieco/2020/09/16/common-problems-of-mango-in-the-florida-home-landscape/

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Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts
Tags: Mango Stem Borer

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9 Comments. Leave new

  • Batocera: definitely edible.
    During an insect banquet in Chiang Mai I found a ‘mixed plate’ of insects, including a couple of sphinx moths and an adult Batocera. I tried it, but didn’t find much to eat in the abdomen. I think the larva would be more delectable.

    Best,
    Dave
    http://www.smallstockfoods.com

    Reply
  • Judith, I would like to use your photo in a Fact sheet for educational purposes (ag development in Afghanistan) on eafghanag.ucdavis.edu. If you don’t mind, could you provide me with the name to which you would like this photo credited?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • This is a very old posting and Judith will most likely not revisit to check comments to grant permission. What’s That Bug? does reserve the right to grant permission to use images on our site when they are used for educational purposes. Please Credit What’s That Bug? (www.whatsthatbug.com) and list the photographer as Judith. Thank you for asking permission.

      Reply
  • Judith, I would like to use your photo in a Fact sheet for educational purposes (ag development in Afghanistan) on eafghanag.ucdavis.edu. If you don’t mind, could you provide me with the name to which you would like this photo credited?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  • Abdul Akbar
    May 5, 2015 10:18 pm

    I have also found a similar one. Thanks for ur post. It helped me to identify the insect.

    Reply
  • I found two of these on our Mango tree in Sabana Hoyos PR Arecibo. This article was written in 2015. I took a picture, unfortunately my partner killed it. There were two breeding on the tree yesterday but today only one remained.

    Reply
  • What happens when it bite

    Reply
  • Yesterday,I sleep well ,I felt there some on my hand . I wake up and light it on , it found to be mango stem borer , so kindly say what happens , when bites . What treatment we have to take ?

    Reply
  • Over the past week (beginning October, 2022 in Brisbane) I have seen these emerging out of my vermicompost bin, covered in what look like mites! (Damn, I wish I had clicked them with my camera before clipping them with a brick!!) (i) why are they in my vermicompost bin? .. do the larval stage curl grubs eat the decomposing fruit and vegetable matter?; and (ii) why are they covered in these mite looking critters? … do these attack the beetles?

    Reply

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