Niche overlap and interspecific association between Chilo partellus and Chilo orichalcociliellus on the Kenya coast.
Chilo partellus and Chilo orichalcociliellus (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) occur sympatrically on the Kenya coast and are injurious to maize and sorghum. Evidence over a period of 30 years indicates that the indigenous stem borer, C. orichalcociliellus, is being gradually displaced by the exotic stem borer, C. partellus. The two species have overlapping niches, but the specific mechanisms driving the displacement are unknown. The distribution and extent of niche overlap and interspecific association between C. partellus and C. orichalcociliellus were investigated in cultivated and wild host plants. No difference in the within-plant distribution of the two borer species in maize and sorghum was found. A niche overlap of 83.7% between C. partellus and C. orichalcociliellus was found. A weak positive association was found between small-, medium-, and large-sized larvae of C. partellus and C. orichalcociliellus. However, as larvae grew, the association decreased with no significant association at the pupal stage. No negative association was found between C. partellus and C. orichalcociliellus, suggesting that the two species do not avoid or directly harm each other. The partial displacement of C. orichalcociliellus may therefore, be attributed to intrinsically superior attributes of C. partellus that indirectly affect the survival of C. orichalcociliellus.