Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Larval dispersal of the invasive fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, the exotic stemborer Chilo partellus, and indigenous maize stemborers in Africa.

Abstract

Larval dispersal either through ballooning or crawling results in a redistribution of the insect population and infestations within and between plants. In addition, invasive species, such as the fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda (JE Smith) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), and the exotic stemborer Chilo partellus (Swinhoe) (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), may displace indigenous stemborers on maize in Africa. To test whether larval dispersal activity may play a role in the displacement of indigenous stemborers, larval dispersal was compared between FAW, C. partellus, and the indigenous species Busseola fusca (Fuller) and Sesamia calamistis (Hampson) (both Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Twenty potted maize plants were infested with one batch of eggs either from stemborers (B. fusca, S. calamistis, or C. partellus) or from FAW and monitored in the greenhouse for ballooning activities. After egg hatching, both ballooning and non-ballooning larvae were identified according to species and counted. FAW neonate larvae had greater potential for ballooning off than stemborers, irrespective of species. For each species, more females dispersed than males, and their survival rate was higher than that of non-ballooning larvae. In addition, plant-to-plant larval movements were studied using 6.25-m2 plots of caged maize in a completely randomized design with five replicates. FAW was found to have wider dispersal and plant damage potential than any of the stemborer species. In conclusion, in contrast to C. partellus, the invasive characteristic of FAW can be explained, in part, by its higher larval dispersal activity compared to stemborers. This difference in larval dispersal might also be considered in sampling plans for monitoring pest density in the field.