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Sunn Pest in Afghanistan

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Sunn pest is a complex of Pentatomid and Scutellerid bugs with a characteristic migratory life-cycle that attack crops in South-west Asia. The best known and studied species is Eurygaster intregriceps, but Aelia spp. are also included. "Sunn pest" has been reported for many years as a serious pest of wheat in north-western Afghanistan, where it is known in Dari as "kafashek" meaning "little shoe". Brown identified specimens from N-W Afghanistan as E. integriceps and it was assumed that this was the major pest in the region. However, in 1990, a very heavy infestation on wheat at the milky stage was clearly not Eurygaster. Specimens were subsequently identified by CABI as Dolycoris penicillatus. During the 1990s, FAO continued to support Sunn pest control in Afghanistan until the political situation in the country made this impossible. From 2003 until 2007 further observations on the Sunn pest problem were possible which confirmed that the major pest species was D. penicillatus, although a single specimen was identified as D. baccarum by the Natural History Museum. However, specimens from Helmand were Eurygaster. Aelia and Carpocoris were also found, sometimes in significant numbers. Dolycoris has been and remains a serious pest on wheat in north-west Afghanistan. In an area with a high frequency of drought, it can cause severe losses in the few years in which there is sufficient rain for a good yield, thus greatly increasing the riskiness of this crop. Its severity varies enormously from year to year and no reliable method of forecasting exists to enable the authorities to prepare the logistics of a control campaign. No reliable alternative to chemical control is known and chemical control is often beyond the resources of the small farmers who are the principal sufferers from it.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-12-01

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