The Troublesome Pod Fly in Pigeon Pea: A Guide to Identification, Damage, and Management

The Sneaky Pest

The pod fly poses a significant threat to pigeon pea crops. Unfortunately, its elusive nature makes it difficult for most farmers to detect and manage.

Identification: Spotting the Culprit

Egg Stage

The pod fly eggs are small, measuring approximately 0.95-1 mm in length and 0.15-2 mm in width. They are laid within the immature pod walls.

Larva Stage

After hatching, the maggot larvae are initially transparent. As they mature, they turn white and reach a length of about 3-3.5 mm. These legless larvae feed on the developing grain and pupate inside the pod.

Pupa Stage

During the pupa stage, the pod fly develops orange-brown cases that are roughly 3 mm long. These cases have a pair of anterior spiracles located close together, protruding forward, and a pair of posterior spiracles on tubercles that extend outward from the base. The pupae create tunnels within the grains for the adults to exit.

Adult Stage

Adult pod flies range from 2 to 5 mm in length and may appear black to the naked eye. However, when observed under magnification, their thorax and abdomen display a distinctive green metallic sheen. The head features a noticeable metallic green ocellar triangle that extends to the lunule (a recessed crescent above the antennae). Their wings are transparent. Female pod flies possess a long, black ovipositor sheath.

Damage Symptoms: The Invisible Enemy

The maggot larvae of the pod fly feed on the developing grain, causing damage that often goes unnoticed. Infested pods do not show external signs of harm until the mature larvae create holes in the pod walls, allowing the adults to emerge. Additionally, the infested grains become shriveled and lose viability due to the larvae’s excreta, which can lead to the development of fungus.

As a result, these grains are unsuitable for human consumption. Dry pods may exhibit tiny holes resembling pinpricks.

Management Strategy: Controlling the Infestation

Chemical Method

To combat the pod fly, several recommended insecticides can be used. These include:

  • KINGCODE ELITE 50EC: Mix 10ml in 20 liters of water.
  • LEXUS 247SC: Mix 8ml in 20 liters of water.
  • SINOPHATE 750SP: Mix 20g in 20 liters of water.
  • PRESENTO 200SP: Mix 5g in 20 liters of water.
  • PROFILE 440EC: Mix 30ml in 20 liters of water.
  • EPITOME ELITE500SP: Mix 10g in 20 liters of water.
  • LEGACY 50EC: Mix 20ml in 20 liters of water.
  • PENTAGON 50EC: Mix 10ml in 20 liters of water.
  • EMERALD 200SL: Mix 10ml in 20 liters of water.
  • LOYALTY 700WDG: Mix 5g in 20 liters of water.


When conducting foliar sprays, it is advisable to add INTEGRA, a sticker, spreader, and penetrant, to enhance the insecticide’s effectiveness. Use 3ml of INTEGRA per 20 liters of water.

To prevent the development of resistance, it is crucial to alternate between different insecticides throughout the crop’s season, rather than relying on a single type. Applying the insecticide(s) at the appropriate time is essential for effective control.

Non-Chemical Methods

In addition to chemical approaches, non-chemical methods can aid in managing the pod fly infestation. These include:

1. Early Crop Planting: Sowing the crop early in the season helps minimize the pod fly’s impact.

2. Resistant Varieties: Planting pigeon pea varieties that are resistant to pod fly infestations can offer protection.

3. Intercropping: Growing other crops like sorghum, maize, or groundnut alongside pigeon pea can help reduce the pod fly population.

4. Crop Rotation: Rotating pigeon pea with non-host crops can disrupt the life cycle of the pod fly, reducing their numbers.

5. Natural Enemies/Predators: Encouraging natural enemies and predators, such as spiders and robber flies, can help control the pod fly population.

6. Sticky Traps: Using sticky traps can capture adult pod flies, reducing their numbers.

7. Weed Control: Proper weed control in the field prevents the pod fly from finding additional breeding sites.

8. Field Sanitation: Maintaining cleanliness and proper sanitation in the field minimizes the chances of pod fly infestation.


By employing a combination of chemical and non-chemical methods, farmers can effectively manage and mitigate the damage caused by the pod fly in pigeon pea crops. Early identification, timely action, and a holistic approach are key to successful pest control.

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