Maize plant hopper (corn lantern fly) (Peregrinus maidis)
It is 4-5 m long and greyish in colour. The transparent wings are about twice as long as the body and show marked dark-brown veins. It is commonly found in groups in the funnel of the plants, the whorl, leaf sheath or underside of leaves. This insect produces large quantities of honeydew. As a result, sooty mould is often evident near the sites of aggregation. Nymphs and adults are in close association with ants, which feed on the honeydew produced by this plant hopper.
This plant hopper transmits the maize mosaic nucleorhabdovirus (MMV), maize stripe tenuivirus (MSpV), and maize line virus that can become a limiting factor in maize production.
- Practise crop rotation (alternate maize with cotton, root crops, and other non-graminae crops) to break the lifecycle of plant hoppers.
- Plough under or burn stubbles and plant debris right after harvest to kill remaining eggs, nymphs and adults.
- Avoid excessive N-fertiliser applications (N makes plant susceptible and attractive to maize plant hoppers).
- Keep planting distance wide enough for sunlight to penetrate (shady areas favour the maize plant leafhopper.
- Conserve natural enemies. Important plant hopper natural enemies are parasitic wasps (they parasitise eggs and nymphs), mirid bug (prey on eggs), dragonflies and damselflies (prey on moving adults), spiders and earwigs (prey on nymphs and adults). Intercropping with legumes is recommended as harbourage of natural enemies, as soil conditioners, and for added income.