Chilo partellus (Swinhoe)
Spotted sorghum stemborer, Spotted stalk borer
Host plants:Maize Millet Rice Sorghum
|General Information on Pest and Damage||Biological pest control|
|Biology and Ecology of the Spotted Stemborer||Biopesticides and physical methods|
|Pest and Disease Management||Information Source Links|
|Cultural practices||Contact links|
General Information on Pest and Damage
|Geographical Distribution of the Spotted stemborer in Africa (red marked)|
IntroductionThe spotted stemborer is one of the most important stemborers in East and Southern Africa. This pest is not native to Africa, but was accidentally introduced from Asia. It is essentially a pest of hot lowland areas, and it is seldom found above an altitude of 1500m. Since its appearance on the African continent, it has continuously expanded its distribution in the warm, low-altitude regions of eastern and southern Africa. It is now the most economically important stemborer in many areas. In Africa, the spotted stemborer is a major pest of maize, sorghum and pearl millet.
DamageYoung caterpillars of spotted stemborer feed on the tender leaves of the plants. They later feed at the growing point into the stem. Seriously attacked plants dry-up entirely or partly showing the so-called 'dead heart' symptom. Early attacked plants are stunted in growth and the ears are poorly developed. Stem tunnelling by older caterpillars interferes with transference of nutrients to the grain. Stemborer damage results in plant stunting, lodging, stem breakage, and direct damage to ears. Infestations by stemborers increase the incidence and severity of stalk rots and may increase the contamination of the grains with toxin-producing fungi like Aspergillus flavus.
Host RangeThe spotted stemborer is an important pest of cultivated cereals, especially maize, sorghum and pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum). It has also been recorded from wild grasses and mainly wild sorghum.
SymptomsLeaves show irregular scars, holes and windows caused by the feeding of young caterpillars. Seriously attacked plants, especially young plants dry-up entirely or partly showing the so-called 'dead heart' symptom, due to the death of central leaves. The longitudinal dissection of the stalks reveals the caterpillars. In older plants the upper part of the stem usually dies due to the boring of the caterpillars in the stem. Older caterpillars tunnel extensively in stems and in maize cobs, weakening the stems, which may break. Damage to inflorescences may interfere with grain formation, causing chaffy heads in sorghum. Similar symptoms are produced by other species of cereal stemborer.
Affected Plant StagesAll stages.
Affected Plant PartsEar/head, growing points, leaves, stems.
Symptoms by affected plant partEar/head: internal feeding; external feeding.
Growing points: internal feeding; boring; dead heart.
Leaves: external feeding; internal feeding.
Stems: internal feeding; deadheart.
Biology and Ecology of the Spotted Stemborer
|Eggs of the spotted stemborer (Chilo partellus)|
|Caterpillar of the spotted stemborer (Chilo partellus)|
|© Stemborer team, icipe|
Pupae are up to 15 mm long, slender, shiny and light yellow-brown to dark red-brown in colour. Adults emerge 5 to 12 days after pupation.
|Moth of the spotted stemborer (Chilo partellus)|
Life cycleThe whole life cycle takes about 3 to 4 weeks, sometimes longer in colder months, and shorter in hot months. Five or more successive generations may develop in favourable conditions. In regions where there is sufficient water and an abundance of host plants, Chilo partellus normally develops continuously all year-round. In other regions with long dry periods in winter or in summer, the spotted stemborer, as with many other cereal stemborers, pass the winter or dry season as fully-grown caterpillars in a resting period (diapause) in stems and stubbles in the field. They may remain inactive for up to six months, before pupating and completing their development early in the following growing season.
In Kenya, the spotted stemborer diapauses for several months in the dry season. However, populations without a resting period were reported from the Coast Province of Kenya and Uganda. In the coastal areas of Kenya, in periods between cropping seasons, some stemborers diapause in maize stubble, whereas others remain active, feeding in wild grasses such as wild sorghum.
Pest and Disease Management
Pest and disease management: General illustration of the concept of infonet-biovision
Further below you find concrete preventive and curative methods against Spotted stemborer.
MonitoringInfestations of stemborers are detected by walking through young crops looking for characteristic feeding marks on funnel leaves, the presence of dead hearts and holes in tunnelled stems. Samples of affected stems are then dissected to retrieve caterpillars and pupae.
As other stemborers cause similar symptoms, retrieval of caterpillar or pupae and confirmation of their identity by rearing adults for identification by a taxonomic specialist is essential to ensure a correct diagnosis.
The presence of this species in older crops and in crop residues may be detected by taking random samples of stems or stools for dissection.
Crop sanitationPractise good crop hygiene, this includes the destruction of crop residues (stems and stubbles). Remove volunteer crop plants and/or alternative hosts. This reduces carryover of stemborers from one growing season to the next, and will help to limit the most damaging attacks on young crops early in the growing season.
Disease avoidanceManipulation of sowing dates may also be used to avoid periods of peak adult activity. However, this is not practical in situations where lack of water is a major constraint as farmers often plant after first rains.
Manipulation of sowing dates may also be used to avoid periods of peak adult activity.
Improvement of soil fertilityStudies on several stemborers in Africa showed that soil nutrient levels, such as nitrogen, greatly influenced nutritional status of the plant, and the plant's tolerance to stemborer attack. Although an increase in nitrogen is related to higher pest loads and tunnel damage, there is also an increase in plant vigour with a net benefit to the plant reflected in lower yield losses (Setamu et al., 1995).
Trials in Tanzania to evaluate the effect of nitrogen fertilisation (0,50,70,100 kg N/ha) on pest abundance, plant damage and yield loss of maize due to stemborers showed the beneficial effect of nitrogen on the maize plant's abilities to compensate for damage by the spotted stemborer. Yield loss decreased with an increase in nitrogen application and the effect was stronger under high than low borer infestation levels (ICIPE, 2005; Mgoo et al., 2006).
Intercropping and habitat managementThe importance of plant biodiversity in maize agroecosystems for reducing borer's infestation on maize has been recognised in sub-Sahara Africa. Studies have shown that intercropping maize with cowpea is an effective way of reducing damage by the spotted stemborer caterpillars migrating from neighbouring plants. The effect is variable, if the crop to be protected is not planted after the companion crops.
Intercropping maize with molasses grass (Melinis minutiflora), which is a non-host for stemborers, significantly reduced stemborer infestation on maize. A significant increase of parasitism of stemborers by the wasp Cotesia sesamiae was also observed. Molasses grass produces volatile agents, which repel stemborers but attract the parasitic wasp. In addition, the molasses grass is an effective cover crop and provides good fodder for livestock. Greenleaf desmodium (Desmodium intortum) repels egg-laying stemborer moths, and in addition, when intercropped with maize, suppresses and eliminates Striga.
Planting an outer encircling row of some highly preferred hosts as trap plants is another useful diversionary tactic for management of stemborers. Examples of trap plants are Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) and Sudan grass (Sorghum vulgare sudanense), common fodder plants in Africa. Napier grass is highly attractive to egg laying moths, but only few caterpillars complete their lifecycles, since when they enter the stem the plant produces a gummy substance that kills the caterpillars. Sudan grass provides natural control of stemborers by acting as a trap crop (attracting moths) and as a reservoir for its natural enemies.
A simple habitat management strategy has been developed combining use of intercropping and trap crop systems. The strategy is known as "Push-Pull", whereby farmers use Napier grass and Desmodium legume (silverleaf and greenleaf desmodium) as intercrops. For more information on push-pull click here or refer to www.push-pull.net (click to follow link).
Biological pest control
Cotesia flavipes is a small wasp that attacks caterpillars of the spotted stemborer in Asia.
This wasp was imported, mass reared in the 90's, and subsequently released in East and Southern Africa. Cotesia flavipes locates the stemborers while the stemborers are feeding inside the plant stems. The wasp lays about 40 eggs into a stemborer. Upon hatching the larvae of the parasitic wasp feed internally in the stemborer, and then exit the stemborer and spin cocoons.
This parasitic wasp is now established in several countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Zanzibar, Malawi, Somalia) (Omwega et al. 2006; Kfir et al, 2002). Studies of the impact of this parasitic wasp in coastal Kenya showed that it has caused a 70% decrease in stemborer densities.
Xanthopimpla stemmator, a wasp attacking pupa of stemborers, has been recently imported, and released in several countries.
Local natural enemies such as earwigs and ants are also important for control of stemborers included the spotted stemborer.
Biopesticides and physical methods
One kg powder should be sufficient to treat 1500 to 2000 plants. In this method rain water dissolves the active substances in neem powder as it gathers in the funnel and washes out the powder. Where rainfall is irregular a liquid neem seed extract can be sprayed into the funnel.
The treatment should be repeated every 8 to 10 days during the sensitive growing phase. Thus, roughly three treatments are required per crop.
This recommendation applies only for young plants before flowering and not for older plants.
A mixture of ground neem kernels and sawdust (1:1) applied as granules at weekly and biweekly intervals reduced the number of maize plants attacked by the spotted stemborer by 60% and 40% respectively in field trials.
In experiments in Somalia, pulverised neem kernel and kernel cake (0.5 g and 1 g per plant) alone or a mixture with clay, markedly reduced stalk borer damage and increased the yield in comparison with the check plots by over 100% (Hellpap, 1995).
For more information on neem click here
Information Source Links
- Khan, Z. R., Muyekho, F. N., Njuguna, E., Pickett, J. A., Wadhams,L. J., Dibogo, N., Ndiege, A., Genga, G. and Luswetti, C. (2005). A Primer on Planting and Managing 'Push-Pull' Fields for Stemborer and Striga Control in Maize - A Step-by-Step Guide for Farmers. ICIPE
- CABI (2005). Crop Protection Compendium, 2005 Edition. © CAB International Publishing. Wallingford, UK. www.cabi.org
- Hellpap, C. (1995). Practical results with neem products against insect pests, and probability of development of resistance. Pest of selected field crops. Corn. In The Neem tree- Source of Unique Natural Products for Integrated Pest Management, Medicine, Industry and Other Purposes. Ed. by H. Schmutterer. pp 385-389. ISBN: 3-527-30054-6.
- Hill, D. S. (1983). Agricultural Insect Pests of the Tropics and Their Control. Second edition. Cambridge University Press. pp 746. ISBN: 0-521-24638-5.
- Kfir, R., Overholt, W. A., Khan, Z. R. and Polaszek, A. (2002). Biology and Management of Economically Important Lepidopteran Cereal Stem Borers in Africa. Annual Review of Entomology. 47: 701-731.