Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/12/2001
Publication Date: 8/8/2001
Citation: White, W.H., Reagan, T.E., Hall, D.G. 2001. Melanaphis Sacchari (Homoptera: Aphididae), a sugarcane pest new to Louisiana. Florida Entomologist. 84(3):435-436. Interpretive Summary: Invasion by exotic insect pests is a major concern for agricultural interest. In 1999, we detected an exotic insect pest for the first time in Louisiana. The insect was identified as the sugarcane aphid. Aphids are small, soft bodied insects that feed on the juices of a plant. The collection of this species represents a new distribution record for the centennial United States, which until now included specimens identified from only Florida and Hawaii. A survey of the Louisiana sugarcane industry revealed the insect already well established; specimens were found in eight of 20 sugarcane producing parishes. The economic impact of this insect on the Louisiana cane industry is not clear. Our primary concern at this time is the insects reported ability to transmit several important plant viruses. However, identification is the first important step and studies are now underway to establish control measures should we determine the insect to be a serious threat to the local cane industry.
Technical Abstract: The sugarcane aphid, Melanaphis sacchari (Zehntner) was found in Louisiana in 9 September and documented as a newly recorded pest for the state. The aphid was first reported in the centennial United States during 1977 on sugarcane in Florida; however, it was reported from Hawaii as early as 1896. Following identification of the aphid, a survey of the Louisiana sugarcane producing area was initiated on 25 October 1999 to assess the geographical range of the infestation. Four sites in each of the parishes growing sugarcane were surveyed. Survey sites were cane fields chosen at random and were selected to be a minimum of 9 km from each other. Aphids were found in eight of 20 parishes surveyed. In no parish surveyed did we find aphids at all four sites surveyed. Although an assessment of biological control of the aphid in Louisiana has not been conducted, we noted during our survey that the aphid was attached by Diomus terminatus (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), by an unidentified syrphid fly larvae, and by at least one unidentified species of an internal parasite. The economic impact of this insect on the Louisiana cane industry is not clear, but the primary concern at this time is the insects reported ability to transmit several important plant viruses.