Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Sesamia cretica
(greater sugarcane borer)

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Datasheet

Sesamia cretica (greater sugarcane borer)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Sesamia cretica
  • Preferred Common Name
  • greater sugarcane borer
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The geographical range of S. cretica includes most of the countries and islands of the Mediterranean basin and extends through the Middle East and Arabia to Pakistan, northern India and northern Africa, exten...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Wing span 26-40 mm, males generally smaller than females. Forewings pale whitish brown, variously marked with darker brown, hindwings white.
TitleAdult
CaptionWing span 26-40 mm, males generally smaller than females. Forewings pale whitish brown, variously marked with darker brown, hindwings white.
CopyrightNatural History Museum, London
Wing span 26-40 mm, males generally smaller than females. Forewings pale whitish brown, variously marked with darker brown, hindwings white.
AdultWing span 26-40 mm, males generally smaller than females. Forewings pale whitish brown, variously marked with darker brown, hindwings white.Natural History Museum, London

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Sesamia cretica Lederer

Preferred Common Name

  • greater sugarcane borer

Other Scientific Names

  • Sesamia cretica rufescens Schawerda
  • Sesamia cyrnaea Mabille
  • Sesamia griselda Warren
  • Sesamia pecki Tams
  • Sesamia uniformis Dudgeon
  • Sesamia vuteria vuterioides Strand

International Common Names

  • English: corn pink borer; corn stem borer; durra stem borer; large corn borer; pink sugarcane borer; sorghum borer; sorghum stem borer; stem corn borer; sugarcane pink borer
  • Spanish: barrenador rosado de la caña
  • French: noctuelle du sorgho; noctuelle rose de la canne à sucre

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Stengelbohrer, Hirse-
  • Israel: sesamiat hatiras
  • Turkey: misir kocan kurdu

EPPO code

  • SESACR (Sesamia cretica)

Summary of Invasiveness

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The geographical range of S. cretica includes most of the countries and islands of the Mediterranean basin and extends through the Middle East and Arabia to Pakistan, northern India and northern Africa, extending south to northern Kenya and northern Cameroon. According to Tams and Bowden (1953) this species does not extend westward of Cameroon; however, earlier records from Mali, Niger and Togo have again been included on the recently revised CABI/EPPO (2001) distribution map. This is a pest species linked to graminaceous crops with a preference for sorghum, maize and sugarcane. It is present on wild Gramineae with a preference for Panicum repensS. cretica could extend its range following these crops/wild hosts and in correlation with climatic change. More studies on the distribution of this species are necessary. It belongs to the 'Sesamia' group of noctuids, a group of very similar species that are difficult to identify, and therefore misidentifications can occur regarding new distribution data.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Lepidoptera
  •                         Family: Noctuidae
  •                             Genus: Sesamia
  •                                 Species: Sesamia cretica

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Sesamia cretica is one of many tropical and subtropical species of Sesamia, many of which are pests of graminaceous crops. The most recent taxonomic revision of the genus by Tams and Bowden (1953) provided morphological descriptions, diagnostic keys and formal lists of synonyms. S. cretica was first described by Lederer in 1857, and according to Tams and Bowden (1953), is the only species of Sesamia that has been consistently correctly identified.

Sesamia uniformis Dudgeon and S. griseola Warren are cited as probable synonyms by Holloway (1998).

The use of common names for this species may cause confusion with other species of stem borer and use of the scientific name is preferred.

Description

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Illustrated technical descriptions of adult and/or immature stages have been published by Cuscianna (1934), Tams and Bowden (1953), Frediani (1952) and Badolato (1976).

Eggs

Eggs are hemispherical (about 1.5 mm across), ribbed, white when newly laid, changing to orange-pink before hatching.

Larvae

Larvae generally develop through five or six instars but up to eight have been recorded in Egypt, plus an inactive prepupal stage (Hafez et al., 1970).

Full-grown larvae are up to 4 cm long, cream-yellow with pink suffusions. Larval chaetotaxy has been described and illustrated by Badolato (1976).

Pupae

Pupae are light brown, up to about 20 mm long, and with a terminal cremaster bearing one pair of long, fine spines and a smaller subsidiary pair. The pupae are often enclosed in a light, silken cocoon that is spun by the larvae before pupation.

Adults

Adult wing span is 26-40 mm, with males generally smaller than females. The forewings are pale whitish brown, variously marked with darker brown, and the hindwings are white. Male antennae are biciliate. The male and female genitalia are described and illustrated in Tams and Bowden (1953).

Tams and Bowden (1953) recognized three races of S. cretica: an ochraceous to ochraceous-buff form from the Balkans; a very pale yellowish-buff form from Morocco and the south-west Mediterranean, and a light cartridge-buff form with well-defined fuscous markings from Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Ethiopia and possibly Italy.

Distribution

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The geographical range of S. cretica includes most of the countries and islands of the Mediterranean basin and extends through the Middle East and Arabia to Pakistan, northern India and northern Africa extending south to northern Kenya and northern Cameroon. According to Tams and Bowden (1953) this species does not extend westward of Cameroon; however, earlier records from Mali, Niger and Togo have been again included on the recently revised CABI/EPPO (2001) distribution map.

The country list includes records under the names Sesamia uniformis and S. griselda (CABI/EPPO, 2001).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

ChinaRestricted distributionNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-YunnanPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
IndiaRestricted distributionNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-Himachal PradeshPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-Indian PunjabPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-Madhya PradeshPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-MaharashtraPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-SikkimPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-Uttar PradeshPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-West BengalPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
IranPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
IraqPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
IsraelPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
JordanPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
KyrgyzstanPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
LebanonPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
PakistanPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
Saudi ArabiaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
Sri LankaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
SyriaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
TajikistanPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
ThailandPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
TurkeyPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
UzbekistanPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
YemenPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014

Africa

AlgeriaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
CameroonPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
ChadPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
EgyptPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
EritreaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
EthiopiaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
KenyaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
LesothoAbsent, invalid recordEPPO, 2014
LibyaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
MaliPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
MoroccoPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
NigerPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
NigeriaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
SomaliaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
SudanPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
TogoPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
TunisiaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014

Europe

AlbaniaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
BulgariaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
CroatiaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
FranceRestricted distributionNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-CorsicaPresentNative Not invasive Tams and Bowden, 1953; EPPO, 2014
GreecePresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-CretePresentEPPO, 2014
ItalyWidespreadNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-SardiniaPresentEPPO, 2014
-SicilyPresentEPPO, 2014
MacedoniaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
MontenegroPresentEPPO, 2014
PortugalPresentEvaristo, 2000
Russian FederationRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
SloveniaPresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
SpainRestricted distributionNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)PresentNative Not invasive CIE, 1968; Cayrol, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2001

Risk of Introduction

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Accidental introduction of this pest to new areas, as has already happened in Spain and southern France, would threaten production of graminaceous crops, especially maize, sorghum and sugarcane. S. cretica is listed as an A1 status quarantine pest for South-East Asia but there appear to be no records of interceptions or establishments within that region.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Wetlands Principal habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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Recorded host plants of S. cretica are mainly graminaceous crops, especially cereals. Sorghum is often its main host; in Israel a decline in the incidence of S. cretica has been attributed to reductions in the area of sorghum during the 1970s (Melamed-Madjar and Tam, 1980). In Egypt S. cretica is a major pest of maize and sugarcane (Hafez et al., 1970). It has also been recorded on carnations in Egypt (Temerak, 1982a), but this record from a non-graminaceous host has not been authenticated by subsequent authors.

Ahmed (1980) made preliminary field observations on 11 species of grasses and cereal crops in the El-Serw region of Egypt and concluded that Panicum repens was the most favoured host plant for S. cretica, followed by maize.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

Symptoms

Top of page Field symptoms resemble those of the many other lepidopterous stem borers that attack graminaceous crops. Feeding by young larvae in the rolled leaves of the leaf funnel produces characteristic repetitive patterns of holes and superficial scarification of the leaf tissues. Later in crop development growing points may be killed, producing characteristic dead central shoots (dead hearts). Older plants that survive initial attacks may have stem internodes that are extensively tunnelled, often with holes to the exterior. Late attack on sorghum, in which the peduncle is tunnelled, may prevent normal grain development, producing chaffy heads, and in severe attacks, the peduncles may snap.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Growing point / dead heart
Leaves / external feeding
Leaves / internal feeding
Stems / internal feeding

Biology and Ecology

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Rivnay (1962) published details of the life cycle and seasonal cycle of S. cretica in Israel. A general account of its biology, based mainly on research in Egypt, was published by Salah (1977). A brief general summary of its biology in Europe was provided by Carter (1984).

Adults are nocturnal and females lay batches of 12 or more eggs under leaf sheaths of host plants. Young plants (such as seedling maize and sorghum) are most attractive during the first 2 weeks of growth, and become less attractive after they have developed seven or more leaves. Average adult life is 5-10 days, with females generally living longer than males.

Females lay about 10-12 egg batches, averaging 100-300 eggs each, over 3-4 nights. Eggs hatch after 4-8 days, depending on prevailing temperatures, and first-instar larvae crawl up into the leaf funnel to feed before tunnelling into the stems. During the growing season larvae generally feed for 4-6 weeks, during which they create galleries in the stems. They then pupate either within the bored stems or between the stems and the leaf sheaths: adults emerge 1-4 weeks later, depending on prevailing temperatures.

In southern Europe there are two generations per year, with peaks of adult activity in April-June and July-August. Further south there may be three or more generations and in Egypt up to four generations develop between mid-March and mid-September. Full-grown larvae of the last generation of the year overwinter within bored stems and complete their development early in the following growing season.

In Iraq, Younis et al. (1984) reported that S. cretica was continually present in maize fields from late March to November. There were five overlapping generations and larval, prepupal, pupal and adult stages averaged 11, 3.6, 9.5 and 3.6 days, respectively.

In Egypt, Temerak and Negm (1979) evaluated mortality factors on eggs and newly hatched larvae in natural populations on a susceptible and a relatively resistant sugarcane variety. They found that mortality by Telenomus sp. was the key factor during the egg stage, with about 74% parasitism on each of the varieties. Larval mortality of early instars was significantly higher on resistant varieties and predation during early larval development, especially by spiders, was considered to be a key mortality factor. Abdel-Wahab et al. (1987) studied field emergence of adults from early March and established that an average accumulation of 166, 433 and 601 day-degrees Celsius, based on an 11°C development threshold, was necessary for emergence of 10, 50 and 90% of the total overwintering population.

In the Sudan, El-Amin (1988) studied flight activity in sorghum and sugarcane fields by light trapping. Catches were highest during the winter (November-February) and were negatively correlated with average minimum temperatures. Host-preference tests showed that late-sown fodder sorghum and three varieties of grain sorghum were preferred to sugarcane. Monitoring of adult emergence from sorghum stalks indicated that they served as a reservoir for S. cretica in November-January that caused peak infestation of sugarcane.

Cayrol (1972) summarized the results of laboratory studies on the effects of different temperature regimes on larval and adult survival and longevity. All larvae died at temperatures below -15°C but exposure for 96 hours at -8°C caused a mortality of only 10%.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Bacillus thuringiensis
Bacillus thuringiensis thuringiensis Pathogen Larvae
Beauveria bassiana Pathogen
Bracon brevicornis Parasite Larvae
Cotesia ruficrus Parasite Larvae Ethiopia millets
Cotesia sesamiae Parasite Larvae
Euborellia annulipes Predator
Eurytoma braconidis Parasite Larvae/Pupae
Granulosis virus Pathogen Larvae
Labidura riparia Predator Pupae
Lamyctes Predator
Lamyctes sp. Predator Pupae
Lanelater notodonta Predator Pupae
Lydella thompsoni Parasite Larvae
Paratrechina Predator
Paratrechina sp. Predator Pupae
Pediobius bruchicida Parasite
Pediobius furvus Parasite
Pheidole Predator
Pheidole sp. Predator Pupae
Tachina fera Parasite Larvae
Telenomus busseolae Parasite Eggs

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Natural enemies of S. cretica have been studied most intensively in Egypt since the late 1970s. The main parasitoids are egg parasites, especially Telenomus busseolae (Polaszek et al., 1993) and the larval ectoparasite Bracon brevicornis.

Hafez et al. (1977) studied the bionomics of T. busseolae in Egypt and observed that, although the eggs of many Lepidoptera were exposed to this parasitoid, only those of S. cretica were parasitized. Adults lived for 3-7 days and mated females laid about 40 eggs each. A small amount of superparasitism occurred but only one egg per host larva completed development. Up to 16 generations per year of T. busseolae were completed in the field at Giza (Egypt), compared with 4-5 generations of S. cretica, and this was considered to be the most important factor contributing to the effectiveness of T. busseolae against S. cretica. El-Kifl et al. (1977), also working in Egypt, published descriptions of eggs, third-instar larvae, prepupae and pupae of this species and determined development times at various temperatures in laboratory and field studies. At outdoor temperatures averaging 20.4°C the total period of development averaged 28.4 days, of which 24.1 days were spent in the pupal stage.

Polaszek et al. (1993) provided a taxonomic account of T. busseolae, recording it as widespread in Africa, present in Greece and occurring eastwards in Iran, Iraq and Israel. They recorded it as a parasitoid of various species of Sesamia and of Busseola fusca and Coniesta ignefusalis.

Temerak et al. (1980) studied the relative impact of B. brevicornis and its hyperparasite, Pediobius bruchicida on hibernating larvae of S. cretica in stacked sorghum stems in Egypt. Overall larval mortality was 14-68%, of which 5-28% was due to B. brevicornis. Hyperparasitism was indicated by cocoons turning black and was 100% towards the end of the winter. Temerak (1983d) studied the effects of venom injected by female B. brevicornis into S. cretica larvae to immobilize them and found that the number of completely paralysed larvae increased with the number of host larvae exposed to a single female in laboratory studies.

The same author has also studied other aspects of the biology of B. brevicornis, notably the effects of age, starvation and temperature on the envenomation of females (Temerak, 1983e); the suitability of five different lepidopterous hosts, of which S. cretica produced the largest females with the longest lifespan (Temerak, 1984c); the relationship between B. brevicornis and Serratia marcescens (Temerak, 1984a, b; Temerak, 1982a, b) and between B. brevicornis and Bacillus thuringiensis (Temerak, 1980); rearing techniques (Temerak, 1981; Temerak, 1983b, c); host preference and host sensitivity (Temerak, 1983a); factors affecting egg deposition (Temerak, 1984d); and host-habitat selection (Temerak, 1982c).

Predation on eggs and larvae was studied in Egypt by Temerak and Negm (1979). They reported that predation by ants and spiders was of minor importance as a factor in egg mortality (less than 2%, compared with 74% parasitism). Higher larval mortality (77-92%) was attributed mostly to predation, especially by spiders, on newly hatched larvae. Temerak (1978) published results of a preliminary survey of soil-inhabiting arthropods associated with pupae of S. cretica in sorghum fields in Egypt and reported predation by an earwig, Labidura riparia, an elaterid beetle, Lanelater notodonta, two species of ant, Paratrechina sp. and Pheidole sp., and a centipede, Lamyctes sp. Paratrechina sp. was considered to be the most abundant and active predator on S. cretica pupae in the soil.

Cayrol (1972) lists other parasitoids (mainly Hymenoptera), a pathogen, Beauvaria effusa, and records that sparrows (Passer domesticus) are predators on adults, but he does not give references.

Fediere et al. (1993) reported Sesamia cretica granulosis virus as a natural enemy of S. cretica.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural dispersal

The adult phase (moth) of S. cretica can move over limited distances on its own. There is no information is active migration behaviour for this species.

Accidental introduction

S. cretica can be transported as a caterpillar or pupae, for example, in dried maize stems. This form of transport is usually limited to areas with ‘subsistence agriciculture’ and is rarely linked to international transport. However, it does contribute to distribution within the area occupied by S. cretica.

Intentional introduction is highly unlikely for this species.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Animal production Yes Yes
Crop production Yes Yes
Seed trade Yes Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Fruits (inc. pods) eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Leaves eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually invisible
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Bark
Growing medium accompanying plants
Roots
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
True seeds (inc. grain)
Wood

Wood Packaging

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Wood Packaging not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Loose wood packing material
Non-wood
Processed or treated wood
Solid wood packing material with bark
Solid wood packing material without bark

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Negative
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Negative

Impact

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There have been few objective assessments of the economic importance of S. cretica but, in a general statement, Salah (1977) reported that where severe attacks develop, heavy losses of maize, sugarcane and sorghum limit cultivation of these crops. Over 60% of mature plants may be killed or badly damaged and those escaping infestation are sparsely scattered over the fields.

In Egypt S. cretica is ranked as the second most important lepidopterous stem borer threatening both sorghum and sugarcane grown in Upper Egypt (Temerak and Negm, 1979) and an economic threshold of eight egg masses per 100 plants has been established for maize (Ismail, 1989).

In Libya, Ahmed (1978) reported serious damage to maize sown in the Tripoli area during June and July.

In Iran, Gowing et al. (1972) reported that S. cretica had become a pest of sugarcane and that infestations tended to be highest in areas receiving preventative insecticide sprays, possibly because of the destruction of beneficial natural enemies.

In Iraq it is one of the main pests of maize, infesting plants at all stages of growth, and the threshold for economic loss has been determined as two second-instar larvae per plant (Younis et al., 1984).

In Israel, Melamed-Madjar and Tam (1980) reported the results of surveys that showed a substantial decline in the incidence of this species on maize. By 1973-75 it was absent from crop samples although light-trap catches showed that a small population still existed. This reduction was attributed to a marked decline in the cultivation of sorghum, the preferred host for this pest.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control

Detection and Inspection

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Field infestations are easily detected by walking through crops looking for the symptoms (see Symptoms). Care must be taken to distinguish between dead hearts caused by shootflies (Atherigona spp.), chloropids and some plant pathogens, especially Fusarium. Identical symptoms are also caused by other species of stem borer and the presence of S. cretica is best confirmed by collecting larvae and pupae from damaged stems and rearing adults for identification by specialists.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Adults and immature stages resemble those of other species of Sesamia but adults can be positively identified on characters of the male and female genitalia described in Tams and Bowden (1953). In Spain, and in other areas where S. cretica occurs along with Sesamia nonagrioides, there is a possibility of confusion. Badolato (1976) compared the morphology of adult and immature stages of both species in detail and established diagnostic characters for the separation of larvae, pupae and adults.

Prevention and Control

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IPM Programmes

S. cretica is usually only one component of a complex of stem borers attacking graminaceous crops and IPM programmes will generally be targeted at the whole complex of species.

Chemical control is of limited use and the general trend is towards the use of non-chemical methods, including the development of host-plant resistance and the application of good cultural practices. This approach is most likely to be effective on sugarcane and on irrigated maize, but there is considerable potential for the implementation of IPM programmes on sorghum.

Cultural Control and Sanitary Methods

Salah (1977) discussed the destruction of maize stems and stools by chopping or burning after harvest to kill hibernating larvae and also noted that manipulation of planting dates to avoid first-generation attack had proved effective with maize and sugarcane.

In the Sudan, El-Amin (1988) concluded that infestations may be avoided or almost eliminated by early sowing of sorghum in July and early harvesting in late October.

Host-Plant Resistance

Selection for tolerance or resistance to lepidopterous stem borers in sugarcane, maize and sorghum may eventually be effective against S. cretica but there is little evidence of progress in the published literature. Field trials of seven varieties of sugarcane in Sudan indicated that at the tillering stage PR1000 was most susceptible to infestation and Co417 was most resistant, but at maturity M/165/38 was most susceptible and PR1000 was most resistant (El-Amin, 1984). Infestation, measured as percentage internodes bored, was positively correlated with stem thickness.

Biological Control

Classical biological control, involving the introduction of exotic natural enemies, has not been attempted yet and would require substantial research inputs before implementation. Conservation of indigenous natural enemies offers greater potential, as indicated by the research on parasitoids and predators (see Natural Enemies).

Chemical Control

Chemical control has been attempted in the past but has never been particularly successful against stem borers. Motorized spraying with carbaryl wettable powder has been used successfully but emulsifiable insecticides scorch young leaves (Salah, 1977).

Early Warning Systems/ Field Monitoring

Light-trapping of adults can be used to give early warning of adult activity, especially of the first generation, and field scouting for egg masses could be used to detect imminent infestations.

References

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Abdel-Wahab MA; Darwish YA; Morsy MAA, 1987. Emergence pattern of the pink borer, Sesamia cretica Led, in spring in relation to thermal units. Assiut Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 18(3):263-269

Ahmed MK, 1978. Insect pests of corn in the Libyan Jamahirija and infestations associated with its seedling stage. Libyan Journal of Agriculture, 7:109-114.

Ahmed MT, 1980. Preliminary field observations on the preference of stem borers to different graminous host plants. Bulletin de la Societé Entomologique d'Egypte, 63:219-222.

Badolato R, 1976. Comparative characters for Sesamia nonagrioides (Lef., 1827) and S. cretica Led., 1857, in their various developmental stages. (Lep. Noctuidae). Grpllsia, 32:265-277

CABI/EPPO, 2001. Sesamia cretica. Distribution Maps of Plant Pests, Map No. 241. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.

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El-Amin EM, 1984. Relative susceptibility of seven sugar cane varieties to the stem borer, Sesamia cretica Led., under conditions of natural infestation at Sennar, Sudan. Beitrage zur tropischen Landwirtschaft und Veterinarmedizin, 22(1):73-77

El-Amin EM, 1988. Some aspects of the ecology of the stem borer (Sesamia cretica Led.) in sugar cane and sorghum in the Sudan. Beitrage zur Tropischen Landwirtschaft und Veterinarmedizin, 26(1):33-37

El-Kifl AH; Fayad YH; Hafez M, 1977. On the immature forms of Platytelenomus hylas Nixon, an egg parasite of the sugar-cane borer, Sesamia cretica Led., in Egypt (Hymenoptera, Scelionidae). Bulletin de la Societe Entomologique d'Egypte, No. 61:153-160

EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. http://www.eppo.int/DATABASES/pqr/pqr.htm

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Hafez M; El-Kifl AH; Fayad YH, 1977. On the bionomics of Platytelenomus hylas Nixon, as egg parasite of Sesamia cretica Led., in Egypt. Bulletin de la Societe Entomologique d'Egypte, No. 61:161-178

Hafez M; Salama HS; Tolba RA, 1970. Investigations on the biology of the corn borer Sesamia cretica Led. (Lepidoptera - Agrotidae). Zeitschrift fur Angewandte Entomologie, 67(1):38-44

Ismail II, 1989. Field observations on the oviposition behaviour of different corn borers and estimation of economic thresholds. Acta Phytopathologica et Entomologica Hungarica, 24(1-2):111-116

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Polaszek A; Ubeku JA; Bosque-Perez NA, 1993. Taxonomy of the Telenomus busseolae species-complex (Hymenoptera: Scelionidae) egg parasitoids of cereal stem borers (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae, Pyralidae). Bulletin of Entomological Research, 83(2):221-226

Rivnay E, 1962. Field crop pests in the Near East. Monographiae Biologicae, 10:194-199.

Salah EA-N, 1977. Sesamia cretica Led. In Kranz J, Schmutterer H, Koch W, eds. Diseases, pests and weeds in tropical crops. Berlin, Germany, 490-491.

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Temerak AS, 1982. Laboratory investigations on host-habitat selection by Bracon brevicornis Wesm. (Hym., Braconidae), a parasitoid of the larvae of Sesamia cretica Led. (Lep., Noctuidae) in sorghum stalks. Anzeiger fur Schadlingskunde Pflanzenschutz Umweltschutz, 55(10):152-154

Temerak SA, 1978. A preliminary survey on the soil-inhabiting predacious arthropods associated with pupae of the large sugarcane borer, Sesamia cretica Led., in sorghum field. Bulletin de la Societe Entomologique d'Egypte, No. 62:251-255

Temerak SA, 1980. Detrimental effects of rearing a braconid parasitoid on the pink borer larvae inoculated by different concentrations of the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis Berliner. Zeitschrift fur Angewandte Entomologie, 89(3):315-319

Temerak SA, 1981. On the suitability and reactions of overwintering and active larvae of Sesamia cretica Led. (Lepid., Noctuidae) with regard to the parasitoid Bracon brevicornis Wesm. (Hymen., Braconidae). Anzeiger fur Schadlingskunde Pflanzenschutz Umweltschutz, 54(10):149-151

Temerak SA, 1982. Interactions between Bacillus thuringiensis Berl. and the larvae of the braconid Bracon brevicornis Wesm. through the larvae of Sesamia cretica Led. at different temperatures. Anzeiger fur Schadlingskunde Pflanzenschutz Umweltschutz, 55(9):137-140

Temerak SA, 1982. Transmission of two bacterial pathogens by means of the ovipositor of Bracon brevicornis Wesm. (Hym., Braconidae) into the body of Sesamia cretica Led. (Lep., Tortricidae). Anzeiger fur Schadlingskunde Pflanzenschutz Umweltschutz, 55(6):89-92

Temerak SA, 1983. An improved technique for producing a higher proportion of females in the parasitoid Bracon brevicornis Wesm. (Hym. Braconidae). Anzeiger fur Schadlingskunde Pflanzenschutz Umweltschutz, 56(2):34-36

Temerak SA, 1983. Host preferences of the parasitoid Bracon brevicornis Wesmpl (Hym., Braconidae) and host sensitivity to its venom. Zeitschrift fur Angewandte Entomologie, 96(1):37-41

Temerak SA, 1983. Laboratory studies on certain factors affecting envenomation by the parasitoid, Bracon brevicornis Wesmpl. II. Effect of female's age, starvation and temperature. Zeitschrift fur Angewandte Entomologie, 96(5):428-432

Temerak SA, 1983. Longevity of Bracon brevicornis (Hym: Braconidae) adults as influenced by nourishment on artificial and natural foods. Entomophaga, 28(2):145-150

Temerak SA, 1983. Studies on certain factors affecting the envenomation by the parasitoid, Bracon brevicornis Wesmpl. 1. Ratios of females to host larva, ratios of host larvae to a female and size of host insect. Zeitschrift fur Angewandte Entomologie, 96(4):364-368

Temerak SA, 1984. On the ability of Bracon brevicornis Wesm. (Hym., Braconidae) to distinguish between uninfected and bacteria-infected larvae of Sesamia cretica (Lep., Noctuidae). Anzeiger für Schädlingskunde, Pflanzenschutz, Umweltschutz, 57(3):54-56; 6 ref.

Temerak SA, 1984. Relationships between the bacterium Serratia marcescens (Biz.) and the braconid Bracon brevicornis Wesm. (Hym., Braconidae) developing in larvae of Sesamia cretica Led. (Lep., Tortricidae). Anzeiger fur Schadlingskunde, Pflanzenschutz, Umweltschutz, 57(1):7-9

Temerak SA, 1984. Studies on certain factors affecting the egg deposition of the parasitoid, Bracon brevicornis Wesm. (Hym., Braconidae). Zeitschrift fur Angewandte Entomologie, 97(5):523-527

Temerak SA, 1984. Suitability of five lepidopteran host insects to the ectolarval parasitoid, Bracon brevicornis Wesmpl. Zeitschrift fur Angewandte Entomologie, 97(2):210-213

Temerak SA; Morsy MA; Abdel-Galil FA, 1980. Notes on relative impact of Bracon brevicornis Wesm. and its hyperparasitoid, Pedobius bruchicida (Randani) through populations of the hibernating larvae of the pink borer, Sesamia cretica Lederer in stacked sorghum stalks (Hymenoptera: Braconidae, Eulophidae) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Bulletin de la Societe Entomologique d'Egypte, No. 63:213-218

Temerak SA; Negm AA, 1979. Impact and differential effect of certain biomortality factors on the eggs and newly-hatched larvae of the pink borer, Sesamia cretica Led. (Lep., Noctuidae) on two sugarcane varieties. Zeitschrift fur Angewandte Entomologie, 88(3):313-318

Younis MA; Hamoudi RF; Abid MK, 1984. Ecological and biological studies on corn stem borer, Sesamia cretica L., (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in central Iraq. Journal of Agriculture and Water Resources Research, 3(2):Ar 88-96; en 136

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22/11/2007 Updated by:

Koen Maes, Consultant, Belgium

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