Population distribution and range expansion of the invasive Mexican rice borer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) in Louisiana.
The Mexican rice borer, Eoreuma loftini (Dyar) (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), is an invasive pest that was first introduced into southern Texas in 1980 and has been expanding its range eastward along the United States Gulf Coast. The pest attacks rice (Oryza sativa L.), sugarcane (Saccharum spp.), corn (Zea mays L.), and other graminaceous crops, and its establishment in Louisiana is expected to have severe economic impacts on crop production. Range expansion and population distribution of E. loftini were monitored with a network of 77 pheromone traps throughout southwestern Louisiana from 2013 to 2015. Eoreuma loftini was ubiquitous throughout the study region, with male moths captured in every habitat sampled. Spatial analysis revealed the population is characterized by high and low density clusters, with the greatest trap captures occurring in southeastern Calcasieu Parish and southern Jefferson Davis Parish. Trap captures in more northern regions of the study were lower than in southern parishes. Trap captures in areas where the pest has been established for >3 yr were greatest in rice habitats. The weighted mean population center moved eastward at a rate of ∼11 km per year. Human-aided movement of E. loftini was probably not involved in the eastward expansion documented during this study. Seasonal population peaks were detected in March-April, July-August, and October-November. This study indicates this species is continuing its spread eastward along the United States Gulf Coast and will likely become established throughout Louisiana within the next 20 yr.