Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Charleston, South Carolina » Vegetable Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #345648

Research Project: Sustainable Approaches for Pest Management in Vegetable Crops

Location: Vegetable Research

Title: Mulberry whitefly (Pealius mori) interference with silkworm (Bombyx mori) nymphal development

item ABD-RABOU, SHAABAN - Egyptian Ministry Of Agriculture
item Simmons, Alvin
item GHAZY, USAMA - Egyptian Ministry Of Agriculture

Submitted to: International Journal of Tropical Insect Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/17/2019
Publication Date: 3/19/2019
Citation: Abd-Rabou, S., Simmons, A.M., Ghazy, U.M. 2019. Mulberry whitefly (Pealius mori) interference with silkworm (Bombyx mori) nymphal development. International Journal of Tropical Insect Science.

Interpretive Summary: The mulberry whitefly (Pealius mori) is an invasive agricultural pest. This pest is not currently in America, even though a different whitefly (Tetraleurodes mori) with the same common name feeds on mulberry in America. Pealius mori has recently expanded from Asia to the Mediterranean region. It attacks mulberry which is the essential food for the silkworm that is cultivated by the natural silk industry. This study examined the effect of the mulberry whitefly on the development of the silkworm. Silkworm caterpillars did not grow and had high mortality after they ate leaves that were infested with moderate or high levels of mulberry whiteflies. The natural silk industry is dependent on the harvest of silkworm cocoons for silk production, but caterpillars who fed on the whitefly-infested leaves did not reach the cocoon stage. Results from this study are of interest to researchers, quarantine staff, and the silk industry.

Technical Abstract: The mulberry whitefly (Pealius mori Takashashi) is causing more concern in agriculture as the distribution of this pest expands. In Egypt, the recent invasion and population expansion of the mulberry whitefly has caused particular concern in the sericulture industry. The silkworm (Bombyx mori L.), also called mulberry silkworm or Chinese silkworm, is the most important source for natural silk production. A study was conducted to examine interference by the mulberry whitefly on the population development of the silkworm. White mulberry (Morus alba L.) leaves were obtained from trees maintained in the field which had different levels of natural infestations of whiteflies (P. mori), and these were fed to silkworms in the laboratory. Regardless of instar, all silkworm caterpillars that fed and developed on white mulberry leaves that were moderately whitefly-infested (350-450 nymphs per leaf) or heavily whitefly-infested (1650-1750 nymphs per leaf) failed to molt to the next instar or failed to pupate. By comparison, 88-95% of the caterpillars that were fed non-infested mulberry leaves molted and pupated. This study demonstrates that infestation of mulberry by the mulberry whitefly can have a significant negative impact on the development of silkworms. These results have high economic implications for the sericulture industry.