Millet head miner (Heliocheilus albipunctella)
It is the most important insect pest of pearl millet in the Sahel. Moths deposit their eggs on the heads of millet, preferring half-emerged and fully-emerged flowering heads. The caterpillars mine into the seeds of the millet head, damaging the millet panicle (i.e. the flower head, where the grain is formed). It has been reported to cause complete crop loss. Pupation takes place in the soil.
- Plough deeply to expose residual larval populations and pupae to natural enemies and desiccation.
- Conserve natural enemies. Efforts in artificial augmentation (rearing and releases) of an effective parasitic wasp (Habrobracon hebetor), and identification of other useful, complementary natural enemies, are going on in West Africa. (IITA, The McKnight Foundation). A two-week delay in planting of short cycle millet varieties (75 days to maturity) to desynchronise the peak flight period of the susceptible phenological stage of the crop has been reported to be effective against this pest (DFPV, Niger).