Diatraea saccharalis (Fab.) -- Crambidae
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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 ]
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