Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/16/2009
Publication Date: 8/1/2010
Citation: Showler, A.T., Castro, B.A. 2010. Mexican rice borer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) oviposition site selection stimuli on sugarcane, and potential field applications. Journal of Economic Entomology. 103(4):1180-1186. Interpretive Summary: The Mexican rice borer is a key pest of sugarcane and rice in Texas that has recently invaded Louisiana, and it has not been successfully controlled using chemical insecticides or biological control agents. In the greenhouse, we examined selected sugarcane leaf characteristics on the pest’s egg laying, and the effect of dry sugarcane leaf mulch on egg laying on living plants. We found that folded leaf tissue is preferred over other substrates and nonfolded leaf tissue, and that dry leaf mulch appeared to trap eggs, suppressing infestation of living sugarcane stalks.
Technical Abstract: The Mexican rice borer, Eoreuma loftini (Dyar), a key pest of sugarcane and rice in Texas that has recently invaded Louisiana, has not been successfully controlled using chemical insecticides or biological control agents. This greenhouse-based study examined selected sugarcane leaf characteristics, with particular attention to folds and condition (living or dead tissue) on Mexican rice borer oviposition preference, to determine whether leaf trash might be effective as mulch for trapping Mexican rice borer eggs. Dry leaves without folds were less attractive than folded living green leaf tissue, and folded tan paper strips were also not attractive. Folded dry leaf tissue was preferred over folded green tissue. We demonstrated that Mexican rice borer oviposition on plants, larval infestation of stalks, and production of adults were each suppressed when potted sugarcane stalks shared a cage with dry sugarcane leaf mulch. Suppressed oviposition and larval activity were also observed on plants from which all dry leaves were clipped and removed from the cage, as compared to more heavily-infested control plants (not clipped and without mulch). Reasons for Mexican rice borer preference for water deficit stressed sugarcane plants, and possible control tactics based on water-plant-insect relationships are discussed.