Control strategies for the banana aphid
  • The banana aphids (Pentalonia nigronervosa) are the insect vectors of Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV), the viral cause of banana bunchy top disease (BBTD). The aphids can acquire and transmit the banana virus during their feeding on infected banana cells.
  • Control of the banana aphid is essential for long term management of banana bunchy top disease.
  • Aphids can be killed by their natural enemies, or with sprays of registered insecticides, or with insecticidal soaps or liquid dish washing detergents and vegetable oils (see below). Ants protect the aphids from their enemies, and ants feed upon the sweet honeydew that aphids produce.
  • Aphid control measures, when practiced on a regular basis, can reduce the spread of banana bunchy top disease.
  • Working closely together with members of your community to eradicate diseased banana plants and control aphids is an effective way to fight banana bunchy top in your region.
  • Please read more online at the UH-CTAHR Crop Knowledge Master about The Banana Aphid


Inspect alternate hosts for aphids. Eliminate populations of banana aphids that are living on non-banana hosts within the vicinity of your bananas; use sprays of an approved insecticide to kill them.
Inspect banana plants for aphids. Scout banana plants at least twice per month for aphid colonies. Spray them as needed. While you are looking for aphids, inspect plant for BBTD symptoms: "Inspect to Expect"
Control ants. Control ants if possible and lawful; ants aggressively protect aphids from natural enemies. Boric acid baits can work on organic farms.
Identify and rogue the BBTV-infected banana plants immediately and properly. Kill as many aphids on BBTV-infected plants as possible before destroying or chopping down the diseased plant.
Invite beneficials animals and insects. Strive to foster a conducive environment for beneficial, aphid-feeding or -parasitizing insects such as lady beetles; biological control may be adequate to suppress aphid populations in some situations. Frequent use of insecticidal sprays can have a negative, detrimental effect upon aphid predators and parasites.
Destroy wild bananas in the area. Eliminate wild or unattended patches of bananas; large populations of banana aphids can grow on them and the wild patches when infected can serve as a serious and constant source of disease for farms and residential neighborhoods.
Control weeds around bananas. Maintain good weed control around the banana patch; some weeds may host the banana aphid or other banana pests.
Diversify the banana farm. Diversify the growing environment by growing a range of different plants or crops; host-finding for aphids will be more difficult than in a monocrop.
Prune the mats. Keep banana mats pruned of all unwanted suckers. Eliminate the useless water suckers. Aphids prefer to feed on young banana suckers.
Spray for aphid control. Some farmers may use products registered in Hawaii for use on bananas, such as diazinon and imidacloprid, or horticultural soaps and oils and dish washing detergents and water. Residential banana growers may use an approved insecticidal soap, such as Safer Soap or water mixed with dish washing detergents and/or vegetable oils. Always follow the label directions for safety information, dosage and frequency of applications.

A Home Spray Recipe for Aphid Control (Soap, Oil and Water)
First make a concentrated solution, then dilute it with water for killing aphids
Recipe for soap-oil spray for a typical 4-gallon sprayer
(Step : Make Stock Solution)


(A Concentrated Solution)
The STOCK SOLUTION is made by mixing about 64 ounces of vegetable oil plus 4 ounces of dish washing liquid. An easy way to do this is to buy a half-gallon container of vegetable oil, pour out four ounces, and then pour in the four ounces of liquid soap to make the STOCK SOLUTION. Keep the stock solution in a cool place out of the sunlight until ready to use. The STOCK SOLUTION will be used to make the APHID CONTROL MIX.
(Step 2: Make Aphid Control Mix)


(A Diluted, Tank-mixed Spray)
First, shake up the container of STOCK SOLUTION to mix the soap and oil. Then, remove 11 ounces of the STOCK SOLUTION and place it into a 4-gallon spray (e.g., backpack sprayer) container. Fill container with about 4 gallons of water. Mix well. Try to drench the foliage with the spray on both sides of the leaves. Try to drench the leaf sheath area where it connects with the stem of the plant (aphids may be feeding underneath). The spray must contact and smother the aphid body in order to kill it. The aphid dies rather rapidly from lack of oxygen. The spray may be used to control other types of soft-bodied, sap-feeding insects.
Note: oil may not be needed to kill the aphids, as soaps alone can kill aphids.

Parasitized banana aphid (Pentalonia nigroverosa): potential biological control of the BBTV insect vector

Photographs are courtesy of the University of Hawaii and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Maintained by Scot Nelson:
Last Revised on September 12, 2006