Submitted to: Southwestern Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/13/2004
Publication Date: 10/10/2005
Citation: White, W.H., Adamski, D., Brown, J.W., Reagan, T.E., Villanueva-Jimenez, J.A., Mendez-Lopez, M., Way, M.O. 2005. Survey Results for the Sugarcane Pest, Blastobasis graminea (Llepidoptera:coleophoridae), in Texas and Louisiana in 2002. Southwestern Entomologist. 30(2):85-91. Interpretive Summary: Invasion by new insect pests is a major concern for domestic farming industries. Recent discoveries of Blastobasis graminea (=Blastobasis) in Mexico have prompted interests that this insect pest, originally discovered in South America, may be moving northward. The caterpillars of this small moth are capable of boring into sugarcane stalks and causing damage to the cane crop. A survey in Texas and Louisiana was conducted in 2002 to determine if Blastobasis has extended its range into the US. Backlight surveys in Texas were conducted near cane and non-cane areas in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and near Beaumont in Southeast Texas. Surveys in Louisiana included blacklight surveys and field surveys throughout the Louisiana sugarcane industry. Blastobasis was not collected in Texas nor was it detected in association with sugarcane in Louisiana. However, Blastobasis was collected from a marsh grass called smooth cordgrass in Louisiana. Smooth cordgrass is being used in coastal stabilization projects in the Mississippi River delta. Further survey work is needed to determine if Blastobasis has moved from native grasses into sugarcane and if this moth is already a significant pest of cordgrass. This work is of importance to regulatory agencies as well as extension and research personnel working on commercially important grass species (i.e. sugarcane, corn, sorghum, or rice). It is also of importance to those involved in coastal erosion research.
Technical Abstract: Recent discoveries of Blastobasis graminea Adamski (Lepidoptera: Coleophoridae) in Mexico have prompted interests that this insect pest, originally discovered in South America, may be moving northward. A survey in Texas and Louisiana was conducted in 2002 to determine if B. graminea has extended its range into the U.S. Surveys included five nights of blacklight trapping in Texas and three nights of blacklight trapping plus diurnal surveys of 23 fields in Louisiana. Field surveys in Louisiana included examination not only of sugarcane (interspecific hybrids of Saccharum spp.) but also of maize, Zea mays L., and sorghum, Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench, as well as non-cultivated gramineous species. We did not collect B. graminea during blacklight trappings nor did we detect it in association with cultivated host species (i.e., sugarcane, maize, and sorghum). We did, however, discover it in smooth cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora Loisel, in Louisiana in a non-agricultural environment. Finding B. graminea only in cordgrass suggests the possibility that rather than expanding its geographic range, B. graminea may be a widespread tropical species that is expanding its host range from native grasses to sugarcane. In this survey, new U.S. records for Pyroderces badia (Hodges) (Lepidoptera: Cosmopterigidae) and Dicymolomia julianalis (Walker) (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), moths reared from grain sorghum seedheads, were also documented.