Seasonal infestations of two stem borers (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) in noncrop grasses of Gulf Coast rice agroecosystems.
Infestations of two stem borers, Eoreuma loftini (Dyar) and Diatraea saccharalis (F.) (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), were compared in noncrop grasses adjacent to rice (Oryza sativa L.) fields. Three farms in the Texas rice Gulf Coast production area were surveyed every 6-8 wk between 2007 and 2009 using quadrat sampling along transects. Although D. saccharalis densities were relatively low, E. loftini average densities ranged from 0.3 to 5.7 immatures per m2 throughout the 2-yr period. Early annual grasses including ryegrass, Lolium spp., and brome, Bromus spp., were infested during the spring, whereas the perennial johnsongrass, Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers., and Vasey's grass, Paspalum urvillei Steud., were infested throughout the year. Johnsongrass was the most prevalent host (41-78% relative abundance), but Vasey's grass (13-40% relative abundance) harbored as much as 62% of the recovered E. loftini immatures (during the winter). Young rice in newly planted fields did not host stem borers before June. April sampling in fallow rice fields showed that any available live grass material, volunteer rice or weed, can serve as a host during the spring. Our study suggests that noncrop grasses are year-round sources of E. loftini in Texas rice agroecosystems and may increase pest populations.