Environment, Vol. 2, Issue 3, Sep  2018, Pages 65-78; DOI: 10.31058/j.envi.2018.23005 10.31058/j.envi.2018.23005

Percentage Light Interception Variations on Opuntia Fiscus-Indica Due to Dactylopius Tomentosus Insect Infestation and Impacts on Phytomorphology

, Vol. 2, Issue 3, Sep  2018, Pages 65-78.

DOI: 10.31058/j.envi.2018.23005

Emmanuel Dongi 1 , David Chikodzi 2* , Munamato Mabhegedhe 3

1 Department of Environmental Science, Masvingo Teacher’s College, Masvingo, Zimbabwe

2 Department of Physics, Geography and Environmental Science, Great Zimbabwe University, School of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, Masvingo, Zimbabwe

3 Department of Physics, Great Zimbabwe University, School of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, Geography and Environmental Science, Masvingo, Zimbabwe

Received: 27 July 2018; Accepted: 31 August 2018; Published: 7 December 2018

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Many studies have described the parasitic relationship between Opuntia ficus-indica and Dactylopius tomentosus in the light of biological control systems. This has been done with no or little concern on the direct cost the agent insect causes on the host plant and diversity of other organisms surrounding the plant’s existence. The aim of this study was to assess the percentage light interception variations on Opuntia fiscus-indica due to Dactylopius tomentosus insect infestation and its impact on phytomorphology around Masvingo City in Zimbabwe. The assessment was done by measuring changes in cladode/stem thickness, nymph density and PLI (Percentage Light Interception), the difference between the incoming (I0) solar irradiance and the outgoing (I1) solar radiation, of D. tomentosus infested plants over a period of 162 days. With increased infestation period, measurements on O. ficus-indica cladode/stem thickness and PLI were significantly lower than their initial states (p .000). These changes effected significantly on the structure of the host plant (O. ficus-indica), that is, lanceolated shape of the cladodes/stems collapsed, while at the same time the plant lost its green colouring. This allowed more light to pass through, hence reduced PLI. Pearson correlation between cladode/stem thickness and PLI over the same measurement period was significantly positive (p < .000). The correlation between nymph density and PLI over the same 4 time measurement period was significantly negative (p < .000). A relatively low but significant total dependence of PLI on nymph density was also shown (p < .000).Changes in the measurements of the three variables that is, cladode/stem thickness, nymph density and PLI over the study period affected the overall morphological structure of the host plant, predictive of total plant death and hence host plant local extinction beyond the study period.


Opuntia Fiscus-indica, Phytomorphology, Dactylopius Tomentosus, Masvingo


© 2017 by the authors. Licensee International Technology and Science Press Limited. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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