First report of Dactylopius opuntiae in Morocco
Dactylopius opuntiae (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae) feeds on Opuntia species. This scale has been used as a biocontrol agent against Opuntia spp. where these plants are considered as weeds. However, in areas where Opuntia spp. are grown as crops, the presence of this scale causes severe damage. In Morocco, the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) grows in arid and semi-arid areas where it plays an essential role preventing desertification and preserving biodiversity. Its fruits and cladodes are consumed for food and animal feed, respectively. Fruit are also used to produce dye and cosmetics. It is estimated that prickly pear cactus occupies approximately 45 500 ha. In September 2014, D. opuntiae was found in the area of Khémis Zemamra in the region of Doukkala. It is estimated that the pest has now reached more than a 100 km radius around its first detection site. In January 2015, D. opuntiae was found in the region of Sidi Bennour (120 km northwest of Marrakech). The most common symptoms of damage are chlorosis, desiccation, and weakening of the plant. Within a short period (less than a year), attacked cactus stands may die. It is noted that a PRA on this scale should be carried out and management measures be implemented to prevent severe economic and ecological losses in Morocco.
Bouharroud R, Amarraque A, Qessaoui R (2016) First report of the Opuntia cochineal scale Dactylopius opuntiae (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae) in Morocco. Bulletin OEPP/EPPO Bulletin 46(2), 308–310.
El-Bouhssini M (2016) New invasive insect pest destroying cactus in Morocco. IAPPS Newsletter 87C. Crop Protection 87, 108-109.