New Three-Pronged Attack on Sugarcane Pest
By Jill Lee
July 3, 1997
Farmers can now beat the sugarcane borer
with a new three-punch pest management strategy thats murder on the bugs,
but gentle on the environment.
Developed in part by USDAs
Agricultural Research Service, the strategy combines use of Confirm, a
narrow-range insecticide, with a natural borer enemy--the Cotesia
chionlis wasp--and borer-resistant sugarcane from
ARS researchers in Houma, La. Other
partners in the research include Texas A&M
University, Louisiana State University
Agricultural Center and the chemical company Rohm and Haas, which developed Confirm.
Confirm is currently used against walnut and cotton crop pests. The
Environmental Protection Agency must approve
Confirms use in sugarcane before farmers can put it to work against the
sugarcane borer. The chemical tricks pest larvae into premature molting by
imitating the insects developmental hormones. The result: The confused
pest develops a head within a head and cant feed.
C. chionlis is a native of Japan that preys on sugarcane borers.
First found by Texas A&M University scientists, it has passed all necessary
reviews as a safe, effective biological control for the sugarcane borer, the
chief insect pest of Louisiana sugarcane.
Cooperative research by ARS and scientists at LSUs
Agricultural Center showed that
Confirm does not harm this potentially helpful wasp. Other commercially
available pesticides can endanger the wasp.
Confirm is biodegradable--a bonus for sugarcane growers who are seeking pest
controls that are kinder to the environment. Also, Confirm wont harm
other helpful insects that prey on minor pests such as the sugarcane aphid.
Scientific contacts: William White, ARS Southern
Regional Research Center,
Research Unit, Houma, La., phone (504) 872-5042, fax 868-8369,
T. E. Reagan,
Lousiana State University, Baton Rouge, La., phone (504) 388-1824;
J. W. Smith,
Jr., Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, phone (409) 845-9717;
Doug Lisk, Rohm & Haas, Philadelphia, Pa. , phone (215) 592-2610.