Submitted to: Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 15, 2002
Publication Date: October 3, 2002
Citation: Krizek, D.T., Solis, M.A., Touhey, P.A., Millner, P.D., Ritchie, J.C. 2002. Rediscovery of the southern corn stalk borer: a potentially serious pest of eastern gamagrass and strageties for mitigation [abstract]. Eastern Native Grass Symposium. p. 37-38.
Eastern gamagrass [Tripsacum dactyloides (L.) L] is considered relatively free of insect pests and plant pathogens. Plots of eastern gamagrass established at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, MD were grown successfully for several years without noticeable damage from insects or plant pathogens. However, in June 2001, random patches of eastern gamagrass showed a mysterious, rapid, severe dieback within two weeks after harvesting the plants (at a height of 15 cm) for biomass and forage quality. Upon close inspection, larvae were found emerging from the crown tissue. Microscopic examination of the larvae revealed the presence of both noctuid (army worms) and pyraloid (snout moth) larvae. Although adult moths were never observed, the pyraloid larvae were identified as the southern corn stalk borer [Diatraea crambidoides (Grote), Crambidae, LEPIDOPTERA]. This pest feeds upon corn, grain sorghum, Johnson grass, and attacks eastern gamagrass. A literature search revealed that this pest occurs from Delaware/Maryland to Florida and in inland states (KS, OH, OK, MS and AZ) through Mexico and northern South America but it has not been reported in its northern most distribution since 1891. Farmers should be alert for this pest because it is highly destructive. Cultural strategies for mitigating damage from this pest will be discussed.