The banana aphid, Pentalonia nigronervosa Coquerel (Hemiptera: Aphididae), is the most economically important pest of banana (Musa spp.) fields in Hawaii. Recently, there has been a concerted effort in Hawaii to learn more about the biology and ecology of this pest. However, limited work has been directed at determining the distribution of P. nigronervosa in banana fields and developing an integrated pest management plan. Therefore, a survey was conducted in banana fields throughout the Hawaiian Islands to determine the distribution and density of P. nigronervosa within banana mats from plants of different stages. Another aim was to determine whether the presence of ants on banana plants could be used as a reliable indicator of aphid infestations. Results of the survey showed that plants ≤1.5 m (small sucker) in height contain the highest aphid populations per meter in plant height and that mother plants (≥2.5 m) had the lowest aphid counts and rate of infestation compared with small and intermediate suckers (>1.5 < 2.5 m). More specifically, aphid population was reduced by ≈12 aphids for every meter increase in plant height and that aphids are rarely found ≥2.5 m within the plant canopy. Although there was an increase likelihood of finding ants on banana plants with higher aphid densities, results suggest that ants would be present on plants in the absence of aphids. Implications of these and other findings with respect to sampling and managing P. nigronervosa and associated Banana bunchy top virus are discussed.
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Vol. 104 • No. 3