The legume pod borer, Maruca vitrata Fabricius (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), an important insect pest of cowpea: a review emphasizing West Africa.
The legume pod borer Maruca vitrata Fabricius (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) is a pantropical insect pest of legumes. In West Africa M. vitrata is the most devastating insect pest of cowpea, a food crop providing much-needed, inexpensive protein to farmers and consumers. Various approaches to controlling this pest have been tried, including cultural management, host plant resistance and use of synthetic and botanical pesticides, all with limited success. In this review we present information on the distribution, morphology, molecular characteristics, behavior and host plants of M. vitrata. We give especial attention to innovative management tactics being developed for West Africa, including genetically engineered Bt cowpea, new biopesticides and use of exotic parasitoids. We discuss research needs for enhancing integrated pest management (IPM) for M. vitrata in Africa.