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Tea Garden Pest Control: Managing Tea Loopers

Updated: Jun 12

Tea, a staple beverage in China and one of the oldest and most widely consumed drinks in the world, owes its production to the cultivation and management of tea trees. Tea gardens, where these trees grow, are complex ecosystems teeming with various organisms. While this biodiversity is essential, it can also pose challenges, as some organisms can negatively impact tea trees and leaves, leading to pest and disease issues. These are significant constraints to tea production and major threats to tea safety.

In this series on tea garden pest control, we explore different pests, their habits, damage mechanisms, and control methods. Our goal is to deepen your understanding of tea garden pests, enabling better protection of tea gardens and ensuring the optimal growth environment for tea leaves. This fifth installment focuses on the common tea garden pest: the Tea Looper.

Identification of Tea Looper

Tea Loopers (Biston suppressaria) belong to the Geometridae family of moths and are common tea leaf pests. They are mainly found in southern China, in regions such as Anhui, Jiangxi, Hunan, Fujian, and Taiwan, and typically have 2-4 generations per year. They damage tea, oil tea, and camellia plants, significantly affecting both yield and quality. Understanding the identification, damage characteristics, and control methods of Tea Loopers is crucial for tea producers.

Morphological Characteristics and Life Cycle:

Adult Stage: Adults are 12-20 mm long with a wingspan of 26-60 mm. They are brown with a velvety sheen, with slightly hooked forewing tips and two dark brown wavy transverse stripes on both forewings and hindwings. Female moths have serrated antennae, while male moths are darker with feathered antennae.


Egg Stage: Eggs are pale yellow, oval, and laid in rows on the underside of leaves, resembling rectangular egg blocks.

Larval Stage: Larvae are brown with gray longitudinal and transverse stripes on their backs and sides, creating a checkered pattern. They grow to about 55 mm.


Pupal Stage: Pupae are dark reddish-brown with yellowish-brown bristles at the tail. Cocoons are oval, grayish-brown, and silky.

Damage Characteristics:

Tea Looper larvae wrap around tea branches and feed on leaves. High population densities can defoliate plants, affecting yield and tree vigor. Larvae exhibit gregarious behavior, initially feeding on the underside of leaves and later wrapping around branches to consume leaves en masse. Mature larvae descend to the base of the plant to pupate in fallen leaves. Female moths are clumsy, while males are adept fliers.


Control Methods for Tea Looper

Considering the characteristics and severity of Tea Looper infestations, the following control methods are recommended:

Manual Removal: Remove egg-laden leaves, infested leaves, and clusters of larvae manually.

Winter Soil Cultivation: During winter tea garden management, bury pupae by turning over the soil around the tea plant roots and lightly compacting it to prevent adult emergence.

Insecticide Application: Spray Bacillus thuringiensis or granulovirus during early larval stages. Use chemical insecticides before the larvae reach the third instar.

Light Traps: Use light traps to exploit the phototactic behavior of adult Tea Loopers and reduce their population.

Pheromone Traps: Employ pheromone lures to attract and kill male moths, reducing mating and subsequent larval populations.

Yeehar Agriculture has been at the forefront of green pest control, developing natural enemy-friendly products, pest monitoring series, and trapping products. Our goal is to achieve "disaster prevention and reduction, quality improvement, efficiency enhancement, and safety assurance." We offer various methods for controlling Tea Loopers:

1. Multi-Functional Insect Traps: Utilize pheromone technology to attract Tea Loopers, then kill them with a high-voltage grid. These traps are solar-powered with lithium battery backup, ensuring long-lasting operation and easy installation, effectively controlling local Tea Looper populations.


2. Solar Insect Light Traps: These traps are designed for capturing small insects, such as Tea Loopers. They are efficient in monitoring and controlling small insect populations, widely used in agricultural research, field monitoring, and tea garden pest control.


3. Boat-Shaped Pheromone Traps: Pheromone technology is a leading measure in green pest control for tea trees, serving as an essential alternative and supplement to chemical pesticides. Boat-shaped traps are highly effective in capturing Tea Loopers, making them ideal companions for pheromone lures.


 

 

Precautions for Controlling Tea Looper

When controlling Tea Loopers, observe the following precautions:

Timing: Timing is crucial. Control measures should be implemented during the peak hatching period of larvae, preferably before they reach the second instar. Monitor and trap adults continuously.

Safe Pesticide Use: Choose high-efficiency, low-toxicity insecticides, avoiding highly toxic options to ensure tea quality. Use protective measures during spraying to prevent pesticide poisoning.

Protect Natural Enemies: Preserve natural enemies such as predatory insects and birds. Use pesticides judiciously and protect natural predators to maintain ecological balance.

Effectiveness Evaluation: Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of control measures and adjust strategies as needed to ensure good results. Learn from experiences to improve control methods continuously.

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