Pollu beetle, Longitarsus nigripennis (Alticidae: Coleoptera)
- This is the most important pest in West coast area. It causes 30 to 40 percent loss in yield of pepper.
- Grub feeds on growing tip, tender stem, leaf petiole, spikes and berry. Tunneling of tender stem causes drying up of shoot.
- Portions of spikes tunneled by grubs turn black and cause dropping of spikes due to subsequent rotting.
- Grubs bore into the berries and feed on entire internal contents. Exit holes could be seen on dry berries. As a result of grub boring, berries dry up and turn dark in colour. They are hollow and crumble when pressed.
- Such hollow berries are called ‘ Pollu’ berries.A grub damages two or three berries.
- Adult beetles feed on the leaves. Most preferred one is tender leaf. Due to feeding, irregular holes are seen on leaves. On mature leaves, beetle scrapes green matter leaving the layer of upper epidermis.
- Adult is oblong with shiny black elytra and enlarged hind femur. Female scoops out shallow holes on growing bud, leaf, petiole, terminal buds, spikes and tender berries and lays eggs singly. Grubs are pale yellowish and become full-grown in about 1-½ months. Pupation takes place in the soil in an earthen cell and adult emerges in about a week.
Top shoot borer, Laspeyresia hemidoxa (Eucosmidae: Lepidoptera)
- This is also a serious pest of pepper in Kerala. Caterpillars damage terminal shoots of pepper vines by boring into them resulting in drying of shoot. Incidence is high during monsoon months when pepper vines put forth new shoots
- Adult is a small moth. Basal half of fore wing is black and distal half is red. Hind wings are greyish in colour. Full-grown caterpillar is greyish green in colour and larval period lasts for 10-15 days. Pupation takes place inside shoots within the tunnel.
Berry gall midge Cecidomyia malabarensis (Cecidomyiidae. Diptera)
- Infested berries appear larger with maggots inside. Galls are noted on the tender stalks as well. Full- grown maggot falls on ground and pupates in soil.
Marginal gall thrips, Liothrips karnyi (Thripidae: Thysanoptera)
- This is one of the important pests affecting pepper in Kerala. Galls are formed on leaf margins as a result of feeding by thrips. In severe cases of attack, whole plant becomes stunted, affecting adversely formation of spikes. Adult is black. Eggs are laid with in marginal galls on leaf surface singly.
Pepper mussel scale, Lepidosaphes piperis (Diaspididae: Hemiptera)
- Scales suck the sap from stems, leaves and petioles of pepper vine. Infested vines become faded, withered and dried up. Scale is small, dark, boat shaped.
Pepper Soft scale, Marsipococcus marsupiale (Coccidae: Hemiptera)
- Soft scale infests upper surface and vines at higher altitude. They are large ovoid, flattened, chestnut brown scales surrounded by a conspicuous yellow border. Young scales are whitish.
Coconut scale, Aspidiotus destructor (Diaspididae: Hemiptera)
- White circular scales are seen on undersurface of leaves. Leaves turn yellowish and in severe cases wither and dry up. Adult male is winged.
White tailed mealy bug, Ferrisia virgata (Pseudococcidae: Hemiptera)
- Mealy bugs are found in cluster on terminal shoots, leaves, berries and suck the sap. This results in yellowing, withering and drying of plants and shedding of berries.
Whitefly, Aleurocanthus piperis (Aleyrodidae: Hemiptera)
- This is a specific minor pest of pepper. Nymphs suck the sap from under surface of leaves in large numbers. As a result, leaves show yellow patches. Honey dew excretion favours multiplication of sooty mould.
Wild silk worm, Cricula trifenestrata (Saturniidae: Lepidoptera)
- Caterpillars feed on foliage. Adult is pale yellowish or reddish brown in colour with three clear spots on fore wing. Caterpillar is short, dark brown. Larva pupates in a dense firm cocoon composed of bright golden yellow silk.
Leaf weevil, Eugnamptus curvus (Curculionidae: Coleoptera)
- Weevil damages tender leaves. It is a minor pest.