Learn about the pests that damage safflower and its control.
1. Safflower Caterpillar, Perigaea Capensis (Guenee) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae):
It is a serious pest of safflower throughout India. The adult is a dark-brown medium-sized moth with white wavy markings on the forewings. The full grown caterpillar is about 25 mm long, smooth, greenish with purple markings and humped on the anal segment.
A female lays about 60 eggs singly or in small clusters on leaves and stems. The eggs hatch in 4-5 days. The larva grows feeding on the leaves and becomes full-grown in 2-3 weeks. It pupates in the soil for 10-15 days.
The larvae feed on the leaves and defoliate the plants which lose their vigour and become stunted.
Spray the crop with 2.5 kg of carbaryl 50WP in 250 litres of water/ha.
2. Safflower Bud Fly, Acanthiophilus Helianthi (Rossi) (Diptera: Tephritidae):
This pest has been reported from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh in India. The maggots that feed on flower buds are destructive and when full-grown they are 5 mm long. The adult fly is ash coloured with light brown legs.
The adults are active from March to May. The females lay eggs in clusters of 6-24 within the flower buds or the flowers. The eggs hatch in about one day in April and young maggots start feeding on the florets and the thalamus.
Within one week they grow to the full and attain a size of 5 × 1.5 mm. They pupate inside the buds. The pupal stage lasts 7 days. The adults emerge out of the bud through the holes made by the larvae before they pupate. Three generations are completed during a crop season.
The maggots are parasitized by Ormyrus sp, (Ormyridae), Eurytoma sp. (Eurytomidae) and Pachyneuron muscarum (Linnaeus) (Braconidae). Chrysopa virgestes Banks (Chrysopidae) is a predator of the maggots.
The injury is caused by the maggots which feed upon the floral parts including the thalamus. The infested buds begin to rot and an offensive smelling fluid oozes at the apices giving a soaked appearance to the buds. The pest causes reduction in the yield of safflower seed.
The early removal and destruction of infested buds is helpful in checking the spread of the pest.
3. Safflower Aphid, Uroleucon Compositae (Theobald) (Hemiptera: Aphididae):
This pest causes considerable damage to safflower in Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. The aphids are small shining black, soft bodied insects. The nymphs are smaller in size and are reddish brown in colour.
The aphid is active from December to April. A female produces 6-56 young ones with an average of 21. It completes its life cycle in 11-16 days. The adult aphid has a life span of 17 days.
The aphid is parasitised by Aphidencyrtus aphidivorus (Mayr) and preyed upon by Brumoides suturalis (Fabricius).
The aphids suck the sap from leaves, twigs, flowers and capsules. In infested plants, the height, number of leaves and shoots reduce significantly. The plants become weak, remain stunted and sometimes dry up. Seed production is seriously affected. The aphids secrete honeydew which attracts a black sooty mould.
Spray 250 ml of dimethoate 30EC or monocrotophos 36SL or 625 ml of chlorpyriphos 20EC in 250 litres of water/ha and repeat the spray after 15 days, if necessary.