Pentalonia nigronervosa Coquerel
Taxonomic placing: Insecta, Hemimetabola, Hemiptera, Sternorrhyncha, Aphidoidea, Aphididae.
Common name: Banana aphid.
Geographical distribution: This pest occurs throughout al tropical and subtropical parts of the world, having also invaded greenhouses in Europe and North America. CIE Map #242, 1968.
Host plants: Banana and several monocotyledonous ornamentals (e.g. Dieffenbachia).
Morphology: The body of apterous and alate females, including their siphunculi and cauda, is dark-red to black. The body of both female forms is 1.3 -1.7 mm long.
Life cycle: In the Middle East the banana aphid reproduces by viviparous parthenogenesis throughout the year. It is most active during autumn and winter, when the pest migrates from the subterranean parts of the banana to its upper parts, including the heart leaves. As temperatures rise the aphids move back into the soil, where they remain till next autumn.
Economic importance: This aphid is a pest of banana, occurring in large colonies all over the plant, including its subterranean parts. The aphid produces much honeydew that is colonized by disfiguring sootymold fungi. Large numbers of ants attend the pest and may hinder the activity of its natural enemies. Aphid infestation reduces banana vigor, retards its development and brings about culling of contaminated fruit. Abroad P. nigronervosa vectors the curly top (or bunchy top) virus disease of bananas.
Cultural control: Banana fruit infestations of the bunches can be reduced by covering them with polyethylene bags.
Chemical control: In the Middle East this aphid is usually a minor pest, which may be controlled with organophosphates. Another option is applying pesticides against associated ants, which transport the aphids from site to site and protect them from natural enemies.
Biological control: The more common natural enemies of this pest are Coccinellidae (especially of the genus Scymnus), Syrphidae, Aphelinidae, Braconidae, Aphidiidae and Aphidoletes aphidimyza.
Biale, H., Mendel, Z. and Soroker, V. 2017. Insects associated with the banana aphid Pentalonia nigronervosa Coquerel (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in banana plantations with special emphasis on the ant community. Phytoparasitica 45: 361-372.
Biale, H., Reneh, S., Talebaev, S., Mendel, Z., and Soroker V. 2009. Population trends of the banana aphid Pentalonia nigronervosa Coquerel (Hemiptera: Aphididae) and its insect associates in banana plantations in Carmel Coast of Israel. Alon Hanotea 63: 675-680 (in Hebrew with an English abstract).
Hata, T.Y., Hara, A.H., Hu, B.K.S., Kaneko, R.T. and Tenbrink, V.L. 1995. Excluding pests from red ginger flowers with insecticides and pollinating, polyester, or polyethylene bags. Journal of Economic Entomology 88: 393-397
Kolkaida, A.M. and Soliman, A.A. 1954. A study of the banana aphid, Pentalonia nigronervosa Coq. (Hemiptera Homoptera: Aphididae). Bulletin Societé Fouad 1st., Entomologie 38: 231-250.
Stechmann, D.H., Volkl, W. and Stary, P. 1996. Ant-attendance as a critical factor in the biological control of the banana aphid Pentalonia nigronervosa Coq. (Hom. Aphididae) in Oceania. Journal of Applied Entomology 120: 119-123.
Swirski, E., Wysoki, M and Izhar, Y. 2002. Subtropical Fruits Pests in Israel. Fruit Board of Israel (in Hebrew with an English abstract), pp. 272.