Population Count and Management of Afghan Pika (Ochotona Rufescens) in Apple Orchards of Ziarat City (District Ziarat), Balochistan
Keywords:Afghan Pika,, apple damages, control strategies, Ziarat, Balochistan
The Afghan pika is a destructive vertebrate pest that debarks the apple trees in Ziarat valley, Balochistan. It attacks trunks and other main limbs, especially of young apple trees in winter. While in summer, it eats or damages peas, potatoes, wheat, and corn. The damage caused by this pest according to literature reduces 30% of apple production annually resulting in great loss to growers. The apple varieties like Kaja, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious are known to be the cash crop of district Ziarat and the main source of income. To get rid of pika destruction and to promote apple production in the area, the present study was carried out in 2021and 2022. The population count, damages assessment, and control of this pest were done in two apples (plots) orchards located at Killi Zaar Gaat (30°.36'N, 67°.69Έ) and Killi Murdar Kaas (30.35'N, 67.66 Έ). Both the apple plots were of equal size with a 150 square meter area. The results showed in total 154 pikas trapped by steel rat snap trap and chemical control methods using pesticide (Zinc phosphide) in the following composition: adult male 45/102 (44.11%), adult female 36/102 (35.29%) and juvenile pikas 21/102 (20.58%). The difference indicated a high adult population compared to the juvenile. The pesticide killed 52 pikas, including 23 (45.09%) adult males, 15 (29.41%) adult females, and 13 (25.49%) juvenile were recorded. The damage percentage to apple trees was 22% (70/250 trees) during the months of January and February 2022. Out of the 7o trees, 15(21.42%) were damaged completely, while 55 (78.57%) were found partially damaged. From the result of this study, it is concluded that the high fertility of pika evidently empowers them to respond quickly to favorable weather conditions by a large increase in compactness and by inhabiting previously empty areas. This characteristic enhances its potential as a pest species to survive in large numbers. Therefore, proper monitoring of pest population using snap traps at the time of peak emergence and pesticides with recommended usage is suggested.
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