Improved chemical control for the Mexican rice borer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) in sugarcane: larval exposure, a novel scouting method, and efficacy of a single aerial insecticide application.
A three-treatment aerial application insecticide experiment was conducted in five commercial sugarcane, Saccharum spp., fields in south Texas to evaluate the use of pheromone traps for improving chemical control of the Mexican rice borer, Eoreuma loftini (Dyar), in 2009 and 2010. A threshold of 20 moths/trap/wk was used to initiate monitoring for larval infestations. The percentage of stalks with larvae on plant surfaces was directly related to the number of moths trapped. Reductions in borer injury and adult emergence were detected when a threshold of >5% of stalks with larvae present on plant surfaces was used to trigger insecticide applications. Novaluron provided superior control compared with β-cyfluthrin; novaluron treated plots were associated with a 14% increase in sugar production. A greenhouse experiment investigating establishment and behavior of E. loftini larvae on two phenological stages of stalkborer resistant, HoCP 85-845, and susceptible, HoCP 00-950, sugarcane cultivars determined that more than half of larvae on HoCP 00-950 and >25% on HoCP 85-845 tunneled inside leaf mid-ribs within 1 d of eclosion, protected therein from biological and chemical control tactics. Exposure time of larvae averaged <1 wk for all treatments and was shortest on immature HoCP 00-950 and longest on mature HoCP 85-845. This study shows a short window of vulnerability of E. loftini larvae to insecticide applications, and demonstrates the potential utility of pheromone traps for improving insecticide intervention timing such that a single properly timed application may be all that is required.