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SUGAR-CANE BORER

 

Diatraea saccharalis (Fab.) -- Crambidae

(Contacts)

 

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Biological control research was directed at sugarcane borer and related species for many years, with principal activity in the Caribbean area.  DeBach (1974) related some of the earlier events on this effort.  Although considerable benefit was derived through biological control in some areas, in others with different climates success was not achieved.  Quite a number of parasitoids are known and many are or were originally restricted to particular islands or areas of the Caribbean.  It was thought that explorations in New Guinea might be fruitful, especially stressing parasitoids that were adapted to thick canes.  In the Amazon basic, Dr. J. G. Myers conducted some of the most rigorous and primitive explorations ever, although he was probably the first entomologist to utilize commercial airlines for the shipment of parasitoids when in 1932 he took advantage of Pan American's recently inaugurated Caribbean flights to ship parasitoids from Cuba to Antigua (DeBach 1974).  Dr. Myers was aware that he was dealing with a native species that had adopted sugarcane as a host-plant.  He based his research and explorations on two main ideas:  (1) there were many primitive ecological islands in South America and the Caribbean area where unknown parasitoids of Diatraea species occurring in sugarcane areas might not be as well adapted to living in the sugarcane habitat as was Diatraea.  He wrote, "There is surely no valid ecological or practical difference between a pest introduced without its parasites and an indigenous insect which, in a circumscribed biological or geographical island, has learned to live upon a cultivated crop, while its parasites, although perhaps already abundant in the area, even on the edge of the fields, have not yet learned to or are in some way prevented from, attacking it in its new host plant.  The line of control endeavor should here take the course, not of trying hopelessly to establish the parasites in the cultivations, but, in accordance with the older and proven technique, of introducing another and more efficient parasite from outside."

 

That he was justified in his assumptions is borne out by the fact that a very efficient parasitoid, The Amazon fly, Metagonistylum minense, was first found not in sugarcane, but in a wild host plant, in a primitive plant community deep in the Amazon basin.  Before importing the Amazon fly, Myers had been active in the introduction of a tachinid fly parasitoid of Diatraea, Lixophaga diatraeae, from Cuba into the Lesser Antilles.  The first attempt failed, according to Myers, because it was mostly a single handed effort lacking a full time experience worker on the receiving end.  Later during March to May 1932, Myers along with his assistant L. C. Scaramuzza and some highly trained workers consisting of a Spaniard, two Cubans, a Portuguese and a Haitian, sent nearly 7,000 puparia of the parasitic fly to the entomologists.  Mr. H. E. Box in Antigua and Mr. Mestier in St. Kitts via the rather new Pan American Airways flights.  The spread of the fly and the progress of parasitism were rapid.  The next year this tachinid was sent to St. Lucia with similar results, and has since been introduced to many other areas (DeBach 1974).

 

Dr. Myers spent several years in nearly continuous exploration.  Five separate major journeys were made in northern South America.  His itinerary was as follows:  leaving headquarters in Trinidad he proceeded to Para (= Belem), Brazil, from which he crossed one of the mouths of the Amazon to the great island of Marajo and then returned to Para exploring the Moju River.  Thence he proceeded up the Amazon to the Trapajoz River and up it to Fordlandia and back, continuing up the Amazon to Manaos.  From there he branched on to the Rio Negro and Rio Branco to the Brazilian border of British Guiana.  From there by the headwaters of the Ireng and the Mazaruni Rivers he proceeded in a circular route to Mt. Roraima in Venezuela, returning by the Venezuelan and Brazilian savannahs to the Uraricuera River which flows into the Rio Branco.  There, because of lack of communication with Manaos, he returned to the Brutish Guiana border and walked down the cattle trail to the coast, exploring all host plant associations for sugar cane borer parasitoids en route.  Altogether about 800 miles were covered on foot, which according to Myers was "a method of progression which offers the best conditions for entomological work, and one which ought to be adopted more generally were the time available."  Except for this long trek on foot the entire trip was on water.

 

DeBach (1974) mentioned that Myers had more than his share of the three main difficulties in such South American travel, namely river rapids, disease and shortage of food.  On occasion he was deserted under difficult conditions but of all the varied helpers he had, he considered the Indian aborigines to be especially hardworking, intelligent and efficient as entomological assistants.  Myers' wife shared much of his work but she was forced to return to England late in 1931 with severe malaria contracted in the delta of the Orinoco River.

 

All Amazon fly parasitoids were collected near Santarem on the Amazon in 1933 and essentially all local transport was by water.  Virtually all the parasitoid puparia were collected by means of boats or canoes from Diatraea infesting the floating grass beds of Paspalum repens, which reach their maximum development in the vicinity of Santarem.  Other parasitoids also were present but were already known elsewhere and because in this area of the lower Amazon and lower Rio Branco, Diatraea was scarce on sugarcane, it seemed possible that the Amazon fly might play an important role in this scarcity.  At the height of the campaign a small fleet of boats was engaged.  Locally a small motor launch, a small sailing boat and 11 dugout canoes were used, employing as many as 40 collectors.  A 26-ft. launch, which could withstand the heavy seas of the lower Amazon, was bought to make the round trip journey, carrying parasitoids from Santarem to Para every two weeks as no other reliable transport was available on a regular basis.  The entire population of the lower Amazon was amazed to see the launch successfully make trip after trip through the 50 miles of treacherous open water before Para.

 

The arrival of the launch in Para, 470 miles from Santarem, was arranged to coincide with the weekly commercial airline flight from Para to Georgetown, British Guiana, where the parasitoids were to be colonized.  This flight took one day, so with the judicious use of ice, the pupal parasitoids could be kept for up to a maximum of 13 days and still be unemerged and healthy by the time of their arrival in Georgetown.  There was a total of 6 shipments sent during August-October 1933, with about 3,000 parasitoid puparia.  They were received in Georgetown and colonized by Mr. L. D. Cleare, who also cultured many more in the insectary.  By March 1934, only a little over six months after the first shipment was made from the Amazon, the tachinid parasitoid was recovered in some numbers from six different release fields in two localities, and has since widely established (Myers 1935).

 

Recent attempts to control Diatraea saccharalis have involved the introduction and mass release of the Peruvian race of Paratheresia claripalpis Wulp. which has a shorter life cycle than the native race (Hagen & Franz 1973). In Venezuela efforts against Diatraea spp. which resulted in 50% damage reduction following the introduction of Metagonistylum minense Townsend (Clausen 1978).  Apanteles flavipes (Cam.) was introduced and achieved up to 62% parasitization in south central Brazil (Macedo 1983).  In Brazil four laboratories and 23 multiplication units were established by the Programa Nacional de Melhoramiento de Caña de Azucar, for the mass rearing and release of Apanteles flavipes and tachinid parasitoids for sugarcane borers.

 

In Pakistan, Simmonds (1976) pointed out that nothing really tangible resulted from many subsequent investigations concerning Apanteles flavipes parasitizing graminaceous moth borers in Pakistan.  In 1959-61 some 70,000 larvae of various species of such borers were carefully examined at the Pakistan Station of the Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control.  The only apanteles (not typically flavipes Cam.) obtained was from Sesamia sp.  in Typha angustata (Bory & Chanb.), a wild marsh plant.  Hence, A. chilonis (Mun.) was introduced from Japan, bred and liberated.  Immediately there were recoveries of Apanteles from Chilo partellus in maize.  These increased considerably over the next two years and Apanteles is now an important element in the parasitoid complex of Chilonis in Pakistan.  On submitting material of these initial recoveries for determination they were called A. flavipes-- a species common in south India and which had in the past been recorded from the Punjab.  A. flavipes and A. chilonis were closely examined together and attempts made to interbreed them.  However, they were distinct species and the material from Pakistan is A. flavipes, which was not recorded prior to the introduction of the Japanese material.  The puzzle is that apparently A. chilonis was introduced and there immediately followed a spectacular establishment, and from a complete absence of Apanteles spp. in Chilo in Pakistan, there developed a condition where an Apanteles became a common parasite of Chilo partellus in Pakistan.  But this species is A. flavipes and not A. chilonis.  There is no satisfactory explanation for this (Alam et al. 1972, Simmonds 1976).

 

For further detail on biological control effort and biologies of host and natural enemies, please also see the following (Box 1928a,b, 1933, 1935, 1939a,b, 1952, 1953, 1960; Holloway et al. 1928, 1932; Plank 1929, Jaynes 1930, 1932, 1933, 1938, 1939; Scaramuzza 1930, 1933, 1939a,b, 1952, 1958, 1960; Myers 1931, 1934; Tucker 1936, 1939, 1951; Bartlett 1937, 1940, 1941; Townsend 1938, Cleare 1939, 1941; Holloway & Mathes 1940, Ingram et al. 1940, Ingram & Bynum 1941, Scaramuzza & Ingram 1942, Dias de Souza 1943, Flores-Caceres 1952, Gallo 1952, Charpentier & Mathes 1953, Charpentier 1954, 1956, 1958, 1959; Angeles & Paredes 1960, Charpentier et al. 1960, Simmonds 1960, Avasthy 1962, Miskimen 1962, van Whervin 1963, Bennett 1965, Saxena & Dayal 1965, Gifford & Mann 1967, Altieri et al. 1999).

 

 

REFERENCES:     [Additional references may be found at:   MELVYL Library ]

 

 

Alam, M. M., F. D. Bennett & K. P. Carl.  1971.  Biological control of Diatraea saccharalis in Barbados by Apanteles flavipes Cam. and Lixophaga diatraeae T.T.  Entomophaga 16:  15-.

 

Alam, M. M., M. N. Beg & M. A. Ghani.  1972.  Introduction of apanteles spp. against graminceous borers into Pakistan.  Tech. Bull. Commonw. Inst. Biol. Contr. 15:  1-10.

 

Altieri, M. A. et al.  1999.  Classical biological control in Latin America:  Past, present and future. In:  Bellows, T. S. & T. W. Fisher (eds.), Handbook of Biological Control:  Principles and Applications.  Academic Press, San Diego, New York.  1046 p.

 

Angeles, N. J. & P. P. Paredes.  1960.  La mosca amazonica (Metagonistylum minense Towns.) en la región de Urena, Edo. Tachira.  Agron. Trop. (Maracáy) 10:  125-28. [English summary].

 

Avasthy, P. N.  1962.  Biological control of the insect pests of sugarcane-- A review.  Indian Sugar (Calcutta) 12:  345-48; 351-58.

 

Bartlett, K. A.  1937.  Introduction and colonization in Puerto Rico of sugarcane moth borer parasites.  Puerto Rico Agric. Expt. Sta., Agric. Notes 78.  8 p.

 

Bartlett, K. A.  1940.  The collection of parasites of the sugarcane borer, Diatraea saccharalis, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  6th Pacific Sci. Cong. Proc. (1939) 4:  335-38.

 

Bartlett, K. A.  1947.  The biology of Metagonistylum minense Tns., a parasite of the sugarcane borer.  Puerto Rico Agric. Expt. Sta. Bull. 40:  20 p.

 

Beg, M. N.  1974.  Bionomics of Diatraea spp. in the Bahamas and laboratory studies on host-parasite relations in Trinidad, W.I.  Ph.D. Thesis, Univ of the West Indies.  215. p.

 

Bennett, F. D.  1965.  Tests with parasites of Asian graminaceous mothborers on Diatraea and allied genera in Trinidad.  Commonwealth Inst. Biol. Control. Contrib., Tech. Bull. 5:  101-16.

 

Box, H. E.  1925.  Puerto Rican cane grubs and their natural enemies.  Puerto Rico Univ. J. Agric. 9:  291-353.

 

Box, H. E.  1928a.  The introduction of braconid parasites of Diatraea saccharalis Fabr. into certain of the West Indian Islands.  Bull. Ent. Res. 18:  365-70.

 

Box, H. E.  1928b.  Observations upon Lixophaga diatraeae Townsend, a tachinid parasite of Diatraea saccharalis Fabr. in Puerto Rico.  Bull. Ent. Res. 19:  1-6.

 

Box, H. E.  1933.  Sugar-cane moth borer (Diatraea) investigations. Report upon the introduction and establishment of the Cuban parasite, Lixophaga diatraeae Townsend.  Antigua Colon. Devlpmt. Fund.  40 p.

 

Box, H. E.  1935.  The biological control of the sugar cane moth borer in the Leeward Islands.  Trop. AGric. (Trinidad) 12:  89-96.

 

Box, H. E.  1939a.  Biological control of Diatraea saccharalis (Fabricius) in St. Lucia, B.W.I.  Internatl. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol. Proc. 6:  223-40.

 

Box, H. E.  1939b.  Some aspects of the campaign against the moth borer (Diatraea saccharalis Fabr.) in Antigua and St. Kitts.  Internatl. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol. Proc. 6:  495-513.

 

Box, H. E.  1952a.  Investigaciones sobre los taladrodores de la caña de azucar (Diatraea spp.) en Venezuela.  El proyecto del combate biológico.  Venezuela Inst. Nac. Agric. Bol. Tech. 5.  52 p.

 

Box, H. E.  1952b.  Palpozenillia palpalis (Aldr.) a tachinid parasite of sugar cane moth borers (Castania and Diatraea).  Hawaii. Ent. Soc. Proc. (1951) 14:  485-90.

 

Box, H. E.  1953.  The control of sugar-cane moth borers (Diatraea) in Venezuela--a preliminary report.  Trop. Agric. (Trinidad) 30:  97-113.

 

Box, H. E.  1960.  Status of the moth borer, Diatraea saccharalis F. and its parasites in St. Kitts, Antigua and St. Lucia, with observations on Guadaloupe and an account of the situations in Haiti.  Internatl. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol. Proc. (1959) 10:  901-14.

 

Charpentier, L. J.  1954.  Successful establishment of sugarcane borer parasites in Louisiana in 1953.  Sugar Bull. 32:  120, 125.

 

Charpentier, L. J.  1956.  1954 studies of parasites for sugarcane borer control in Louisiana.  J. Econ. Ent. 49:  267-68.

 

Charpentier, L. J.  1958.  Recent attempts to establish sugarcane borer parasites in Louisiana.  J. Econ. Ent. 51:  163-64.

 

Charpentier, L. J.  1959.  Recent studies of parasites of the sugarcane borer at the Houma, La., Laboratory.  Amer. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol. Proc. 6:  76-81.

 

Charpentier, L. J. & R. Mathes.  1953.  Further attempts to colonize the sugarcane borer egg parasite, Telenomus alecto, in Louisiana.  Sugar Bull. 31:  196.

 

Charpentier, L. J., W. J. McCormick & R. Mathes.  1960.  Biological control of the sugarcane borer in Louisiana.  10th Internatl. Cong. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol. Proc. (1959):  865-69.

 

Clausen, C. P. (ed.).  1978.  Introduced parasites and predators of arthropod pests and weeds:  a world review.  USDA Agriculture Handbk 480>  Washington, D. C.  545 p.

 

Cleare, L. D.  1939.  The Amazon fly (Metagonistylum minense Towns.) in British Guiana.  Bull. Ent. Res. 30:  85-102.

 

Cleare, L. D.  1941.  The Amazon fly under drought conditions in British Guiana.  Trop. Agric. (Trinidad) 28:  131-34.

 

DeBach, P.  1974.  Biological Control by Natural Enemies.  Cambridge University Press, London & New York.  323 p.

 

Dias de Souza, H.  1943.  A broca da cana de acucar e seus parasitos em campos, estado do Rio de Janeiro.  Inst. Expt. Agric. Bol. 4.  22 p. [English summary].

 

Flores-Caceres, S.  1955.  Combate biológico del barrenador de la caña de azucar.  Agric. Technol. (México) 1:  16-37.

 

Gallo, D.  1952.  Contribucao para o controle biologico da broca de cana de azucar.  Sao Paulo Univ. Esc. Super. Agric. Ann. 164:  135-42.

 

Gifford, J. R. & G. A. Mann.  1967.  Biology, rearing and a trial release of Apanteles flavipes in the Florida Everglades to control the sugarcane borer.  J. Econ. Ent. 60:  44-7.

 

Hagen, K. S. & J. M. Franz.  1973.  A history of biological control.  p. 433-76.  In:  R. Smith, T. E. Mittler & C. N. Smith (eds.), History of Entomology.  Ann. Rev., Inc., Palo Alto, CA.  517 p.

 

Holloway, T. E.  1939.  Introduction and recoveries of parasites of sugar cane insects in the continental United States.  Internatl. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol. Proc. 6:  258-63.

 

Holloway, T. E. & R. Mathes.  1940.  The Amazon fly, Metagonistylum minense, a parasite of the sugarcane borer.  J. Econ. Ent. 33:  738-42.

 

Holloway, T. E., W. E. Haley, U. C. Loftin & C. Henrich.  1928.  The sugar-cane moth borer in the United States.  U. S. Dept. Agric. Tech. Bull. 41.  76 p.

 

Holloway, T. E., W. E. Haley & E. K. Bynum.  1932.  Receiving parasites of the sugarcane borer in Louisiana.  J. Econ. Ent. 25:  68-70.

 

Ingram, J. W. & E. K. Bynum.  1941.  The sugarcane borer.  U. S. Dept. Agric. Farmers' Bull. 1884.  17 p.

 

Ingram, J. W., T. E. Holloway & J. W. Wilson.  1940.  Recent developments in biological control of Diatraea saccharalis in the continental United States.  6th Pacific Sci. Cong. Proc. (1939) 4:  359-63.

 

Jaynes, H. A.  1930.  Notes on Paratheresia claripalpis van der Wulp, a parasite of Diatraea saccharalis Fabr.  J. Econ. Ent. 23: 676-80.

 

Jaynes, H. A.  1932.  Collecting parasites of the sugarcane borer in South America.  J. Econ. Ent. 25:  64-8.

 

Jaynes, H. A.  1933.  Parasites of sugarcane borer in Argentina and Peru, and their introduction into the United States.  U. S. Dept. Agric. Tech. Bull. 363.  26 p.

 

Jaynes, H. A.  1938.  Introduction and recovery in Florida and Louisiana of parasites of the sugarcane borer.  J. Econ. Ent. 31:  93-5.

 

Jaynes, H. A.  1939.  Further attempts to establish Lixophaga diatraeae (Towns.) and other sugarcane borer parasites in Louisiana and Florida, with recoveries in 1936 and 1937.  Internatl. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol. Proc. 6:  246-58.

 

Macedo, N.  1983.  Control biológico de plagas de caña de azucar.  Informe Agropecuario 104:  20-23.

 

Metcalfe, J. R.  1960.  The introduction of larval parasites of moth borer [Diatraea saccharalis (F.)] into Barbados.  A progress report.  Bridgetown, Dept. Sci. Agr. Barbados.  9 p.

 

Miskimen, G. W.  1962.  Studies on the biological control of Diatraea saccharalis F. (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) on St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands.  Puerto Rico Univ. J. Agric. 46:  135-39.

 

Myers, J. G.  1931.  Preliminary report on investigations into the biological control of West Indian insect pests.  Empire Market. Bd. 42.  172 p.

 

Myers, J. G.  1934.  The discovery and introduction of the Amazon fly.  Trop. Agric. (Trinidad) 11:  191-95.

 

Myers, J. G.  1935.  Second report on an investigation into the biological control of West Indian pests.  Bull. Ent. Res. 26:  181-252.

 

Plank, H. K.  1929.  Natural enemies of the sugar cane moth stalkborer in Cuba.  Ann. Ent. Soc. Amer. 22:  621-40.

 

Saxena, A. P. & R. Dayal.  1965.  Efficiency of Cuban fly (Lixophaga diatraeae Tns.) against sugarcane borers.  Indian Sugar (Calcutta) 15:  83-6.

 

Scaramuzza, L. C.  1930.  Preliminary report on a study of the biology of Lixophaga diatraeae Tns.  J. Econ. Ent. 23:  999-1004.

 

Scaramuzza, L. C.  1933.  Prospects for the control of the sugarcane moth stalk-borer (Diatraea saccharalis Fab.) in Cuba by means of natural enemies.  6th Ann. Conf. Assoc. Sugar Cane Technol. Cuba, Proc.:  87-93.

 

Scaramuzza, L. C.  1939a.  The introduction of Theresia claripalpis V. de W. into Cuba, and its artificial multiplication.  Internatl. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol. Proc. 6:  589-95.

 

Scaramuzza, L. C.  1939b.  The introduction and establishment in Cuba of Metagonistylum minense, parasite of the sugar cane borer.  13th Ann. Conf. Assoc. Sugar Cane Technol. Cuba Proc.:  295-98.

 

Scaramuzza, L. C.  1952.  La mosca cubana.  Informe sobre la introducción de Lixophaga diatraeae Towns., la mosca cubana, para el control biológico del barenno de la caña en el Peru.  Soc. Nac. Agric. (Peru).  19 p.

 

Scaramuzza, L. C.  1958.  Achievements in the biological control of the sugar cane boarers, Diatraea spp. (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) in the Americas.  10th Internatl. Cong. Ent. Proc. 4:  845-50.

 

Scaramuzza, L. C.  1960.  Damage by the sugar-cane borer in Louisiana and Cuba.  The importance of biological control.  Internatl. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol. Proc. (1959) 10:  938-42.

 

Scaramuzza, L. C. & J. W. Ingram.  1942.  Results attained in the biological control of Diatraea saccharalis (F.) in Florida.  J. Econ. Ent. 35:  642-45.

 

Simmonds, F. J.  1960.  The successful biological control of the sugarcane moth-borer, Diatraea saccharalis F. (Lepidoptera, Pyralidae) in Guadeloupe, B.W.I.  10th Cong. Internatl. Soc. Sugarcane Technol. Proc. (1959):  914-18.

 

Simmonds, F. J.  1976.  Some recent puzzles in biological control.  Entomophaga 21:  327-32.

 

Townsend, C. H. T.  1938.  Notes on the attempted establishment of Paratheresia in Louisiana.  J. Econ. Ent. 31:  632.

 

Tucker, R. W. E.  1936.  Parasites introduced into Barbados for control of insect pests.  Barbados Agric. J. 5:  1-22

 

Tucker, R. W. E.  1939.  Introduction of dry area race of Metagonistylum minense into Barbados.  Barbados Agric. J. 8:  113-31.

 

Tucker, R. W. E.  1951.  A twenty-year record of the biological control of one sugar cane pest.  Internatl. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol. Cong. Proc. 7:  343-54.

 

van Whervin, L. W.  1963.  The biological control of the moth borer Diatraea saccharalis (F.), with special reference to Lixophaga diatraeae Tns. a preliminary report.  Barbados Min. Agric. Bull. 35.  22 p.