Insects Feeding on Sesbania Species in Natural Stands and Agroforestry Systems in Southern Malawi
Maghembe, J. A.
Rao, M. R.
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Pest and disease interactions in agroforestry systemsis a little studied area.Surveys were conducted in the Mangochi and Zomba districts of southern Malawi between December 1997 and February 1998 to identify insects feeding on Sesbania species in natural stands and in agroforestry systems at the research station and on farms, and the host range of the insects. Out of a total of 30 insect species recorded in natural stands, Brachyplatys testudonigro, Mesoplatys ochroptera, Exosoma sp. and Ootheca sp. were the most commonly found insects feeding on S. sesban. Afrius figuratus, Glypsus conspicuus, Macrorhaphis acuta, Mecosoma mensor, Rhinocoris segmentarius and Cyaneodinodes faciger were recorded for the first time as natural enemies of Mesoplatys ochroptera in Malawi. The defoliating beetles, M. ochroptera, Exosoma sp. and Ootheca sp., were the most frequently found insects infesting S. sesban on farms. M. ochroptera attacked only Sesbania species, and usually higher populations of this beetle were recorded on annual Sesbania species (S. tetraptera, S. bispinosa, S. leptocarpa and S. sericea) than on perennial types. Although the sap-sucking bug, B. testudonigro, was relatively less common on sesbania on farms, it has been found to infest a number of other legumes of the genera Aeschynomene, Crotalaria, Desmodium, Indigofera, Mucuna, Phaseolus, Tephrosia and Vigna. Given the wide variety of plant species it attacks, B. testudonigro may become a potential pest of many agroforestry tree species. The insects Anoplocnemis curvipes, Aphis fabae, Hilda patruelis, Megaleurothrips sjostedti, Mylabris dicincta, Nezara viridula and Ootheca sp. also have the potential to become pests of agroforestry systems, as they can damage many agroforestry trees, including Sesbania, and crops. There is a need to study the biology and ecology of potential insect pests of S. sesban to plan for their integrated management in agroforestry.