Survey of natural enemies of antheraea mylitta drury tasar silkworm lepidoptera: (saturniidae) from western maharashtra

Jadhav A.D., Bhusnar A.R., Omkar Yadav and Sathe T. V.

In India, sericulture is one of the agro and forest based cottage industries, earning substantial foreign exchange and providing gainful employment to millions of people. Although Maharashtra is considered as a non-traditional province of sericulture, mulberry and Tasar silk production activity are being practiced. The tasar silk production is well established in the Chandrapur, Bhandara, Gondia and Gadchiroli districts and little work is being carried out in Thane and Nasik districts. Rearing trials of A. mylitta Drury (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae) are being carried out for last three years in Western Maharashtra. However, it was observed that, expected yield was not achieved due to damage of crop by various diseases, pests and predators. Hence, survey of natural enemies of A. mylitta and nature of damage was carried out from 2011 to 2014 from Kolhapur district of western Maharashtra. Results based on rearing are encouraging to continue trials however, there are several natural enemies both from insect and non insect groups reducing A. mylitta crop by predating and parasitizing them. It was also noticed that insect natural enemies play a very important role in cocoon production uzi fly, Blepharipa zebina, Apanteles angaleti were important larval parasitoids of tasar silkworm causing more than 20 percent Mortalities. Whereas vertebrates like reptiles ,birds and mammals were also found prominently crop loss. From insect group, stink bug, reduviid bug, praying mantis, wasps and red ants were noticed as a potential predator while ichneumons, braconids and uzi flies were prominent parasitoids damaging silkworms. As regards to vertebrates, rat snake, garden lizard, birds like bulbul, jungle crow and Indian myna found commonly predating on A. mylitta. It was interesting to note that, in the months of June /July with first crop birds like bulbul, Indian sparrow found to be most dangerous predators for early stages of A.mylitta, it may be due to scarcity of natural food, weed and seeds of plants. From the mammalian group mice, rat and squirrel observed as active natural enemies in this area. The intensity of natural enemies was very noticeable during July to February of the year whereas some of them observed damaging cocoons in open forest during rainy, winter and summer seasons. The present study is the baseline data for ecological studies of natural enemies and further for adopting control strategies of natural enemies of silkworm.

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