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

Environment, 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

Full-Text HTML | Download PDF | Views 99 | Download 59


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.


[1] Henderson L. Problem Plants in Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Final Report to the NCAA, 2002.
[2] Correll, D.S; Johnston M.C. Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas. Texas Research Foundation, Renner, Texas, 1970.
[3] Soil Conservation Service. Texas brush inventory. USDA- Soil Conservation Service. Temple Texas, 1985.
[4] Henderson L. Alien weeds and invasive plants. A complete guide to declared weeds and invaders in South Africa. Plant Protection Research Institute. Handbook No.12, PPR, ARC South Africa, 2001, 300.
[5] Griffith, M.P. The origin of Important cactus crop, Opuntia ficus-indica(cactaceae). New Molecular evidence. American Journal of Botany, 2004, 91(11), 1915-1921.
[6] Zimmermann, H. G.; Moran, V. C. Biological Control of prickly pear. Opuntia ficus-indica (Cactaceae in South Africa). Agricultral Ecology, 2009, 37(1) 29-35.
[7] Hunt, D.; Tylor, N.; Charles, G. The New Cactus Lexicon. D4.Books, 2006, 4.
[8] Kiesling, R. Origen, Domesticacion Distribucion de Opuntia ficus –indica (Cactaceae). Journal of Professional Association for Cactus Development, 1999, 3: 50-60.
[9] GISD. Global invasive species. Database online data sheet. Opuntia ficus-indica (iterim profile) 2005. Available online: www.issg.org (accessed on 10 March 2017).
[10] Benson, L. The cacti of the United States and Canada. Stanford University Press. Stanford California, 1982.
[11] Environmental Management Agency. 2010. Opuntia fulgida Eradication Project. Available online:https://www.ema.co.zw/index.php/.../75-opuntiafulgidaeradic ation-project.html 9(accessed on 25 October 2017).
[12] Potter, D.A. Abundance and mortality of a specialist leafminer in response to experimental shading and fertilization of American holly. Oecologia, 1992, 91, 14–22.
[13] Szarek, S.R; Ting, I.P.; Johnson, H.B. Drought adaptation in Opuntia basilaris, significance of recycling carbon through crassulacean and metabolism. Plant physiology, 1973, 52:539-541.
[14] Potter, R.T; Petersen, J. L.; Ueckert, D. N. Germination responses of Opuntia spp to temperature, scarification and other seed treatment. Weed Sci, 1984, 32: 106-110.
[15] Timmons, F. L. The dissemination of pricklypear seeds by Jackrabbits, J. Am. Society. Argon, 1941, 34, 513-570.
[16] Maltsberger, W.A. Pricklypear cactus an unsung blessing of the Rio Grandle Plains 1989, pp 19-30. In: Hanselka C.W.; Paschal J.C. (eds.) Developing prickly pear as a forage, fruit, and vegetable resource. Proc. of Conference July 14, 1989. Kingsville, Texas. Texas Agric. Ext. Serv. College Station.
[17] Gonzales, C. L.; Everett J. H. Botanical Composition and Nutrient content fall and early winter diets of white tailed deer in South Texas. Southwest Nat. 1979, 24, 297-310.
[18] Lentini, F.; Venza, F. Wild Food Plants of Popular use in Sicily. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedecine, 2007, 3(15), 3-15.
[19] Clapp, T.W. Modification of the edaphic factor by pricklypear cactus (Opuntia spp), Texas A and M university, College Station, 1969.
[20] Gimeno, I.; Vila, M. Seed predation of two alien Opuntia ssp in Mediterranean Communities. Plant Ecology, 2003, 167(1), 1-8.
[21] Vila, M.; Gimeno, I. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. Institute of Systematic Botany, Miami, 2003.
[22] Ramirez-Pueblo, S. T.; Rosenblueth M; Chavez-Moreno C.K.; Catanho Pereira de lyra M.C; Tecante A.; Martinez-Romero E. Molecular Phylogeny of the genus Dactylopius (Hemiptera Dactylopiidae) and Identification of the symbiotic bacteria. Environmental Entomology, 2010, 39, 1178-1183.
[23] Majure, L.C.; Ervin G.N. The Opuntias of Mississippi. Haseltonia 2008, 14(1): 111-126.
[24] Pinkava, D.J. Cactaceae, Subfamily Opuntioideae. Pp. 102–150, in Flora of North America North of Mexico, Vol. 4. Oxford Univ. Press, New York and Oxford, 2003.
[25] Van Dam, A. R.; May B. A new species of Dactylopius Costa (Dactylopius gracilipilus), Hemiptera coccoidea: Dactylopiidae from the Chihuahuan Desert, USA. Zoo-taxa, 2012, 3573, 33-53.
[26] Vanegas-Rico, J.M. Enemigos naturales de Dactylopius opuntiae(Cockerell) en Opuntia ficus-indica(L). Miller en El Centro de Mexico. Acta Zoologica Mexicana, 2010, 26(2), 415-33.
[27] Darrel, N. Capital Area Texas. Unix Society, Cactus News Letter, 2008, 24:10.
[28] Ferris, G.F. Atlas of the Scale Insects of North America; Vol. V11. Stanford University Press, 1955, 85-90.
[29] Hernández, H.M.; Bárcenas R.T. Endangered cacti in the Chihuahuan Desert. I. Distribution Patterns. Conserv. Biol., 1995, 9(1), 1176–1190.
[30] Tesfay, B.R. Cactus Pear and Carmine Cochineal. Introduction and use in Ethiopia. Lambert Academic Publishing Press. Adis Ababa, 2014.
[31] Chavez-Moreno, C.K. Distribution and habitat in Mexico of D. costa (Hemiptera; Dactylopidae) and their Cacti hosts (Cactaceae: Opuntioideae). Neotropical Entomology, 2011, 40(1), 62-71.
[32] Chikodzi, D.; Mutowo, G. Agro-Ecological Zonation of Masvingo Province: Land Suitability Classification Factoring In Climate Change, Variability Swings and New Technology. JGRS, 2012, 1(6), 318.
[33] Chikodzi, D. Spatial Modelling of Malaria Risk Zones Using Environmental, Anthropogenic Variables and GeograPhical Information Systems Techniques. Journal of Geosciences and Geomatics 2013, 1(1), 8-14.
[34] Banuelos, T. Origin and Importance of O. ficus-indica. Agricultural Research Institute, California State University, 1990.
[35] Wasilwa, L. Sap sucking insects may combat Kenya Cactus plague. Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, 2017.
[36] Mathenge, C.W.; Holford J.H.; Zimmermann, H.G.; Spooner-Hart, R.; Beattle, G. A. C. Distinguishing suitable biotypes of Dactylopius tomentosus (Hemiptera: Dactylopidae). Bulletin of Entomological Research, 2009, 99, 619-627.
[37] Blair, D.; Lanner, H; Germine, R.P. Wakeling, 2001. Best Management Practices for wildlife corridors. Northern Arizona University. USA, 1997.
[38] Bloke, N.H. Developmental morphology and anatomy in cactaceae. Institute Biol-Science 1980, 605-610.
[39] Cronquist, A. An Integrated System classification of Flowering Plants. Columbia University Press, New York, 1981.
[40] Darrel, N. Capital Area Texas UNIX Society, Cactus News Letter, 2008, 24(1), 10.

Related Articles