Interactions between sugarcane, Saccharum spp., and the invasive species Mexican rice borer, Eoreuma loftini (Dyar), were evaluated in field experiments and in the greenhouse with rice, Oryza sativa L., as an additional host. By determining adult emergence holes together with percent bored internodes, a novel method for evaluating sugarcane cultivar resistance was developed. In 2001, LCP 85-384 had the greatest moth production per hectare, significantly higher (P ≤ 0.05) than HoCP 85-845. High levels of sodium and magnesium salt stress in the soil were associated with higher E. loftini injury in all cultivars except HoCP 91-555 and CP 70-321.
Irrigation reduced injury in both susceptible (LCP 85-384) and resistant (HoCP 85-845) cultivars by 2.5-fold. The combination of irrigation, plant resistance, and insecticide applications of tebufenozide decreased injury from 70% bored internodes to less than 10%. Several free amino acids essential for insect development increased in sugarcane leaves under drought stressed conditions, which exacerbated E. loftini infestations.
Drought stressed sugarcane was 1.8-fold more attractive based on egg masses/plant than non stressed sugarcane. Based on egg masses/plant and eggs/egg mass, cultivar LCP 85-384 was more attractive than the resistant HoCP 85-845. Egg masses were 9.2-fold more abundant on sugarcane than on rice. Oviposition on sugarcane occurred exclusively on dry leaf material, and the number of dry leaves was positively correlated with egg masses per plant. Several free amino acids essential for insect development increased in sugarcane leaves under drought stressed conditions, and were highly correlated with egg masses per plant. Rice leaves, despite being less attractive for oviposition, had higher levels of free amino acids than sugarcane.
Based on boundary movement monitoring with pheromone traps, the average rate of spread from 1980 (Weslaco, TX) to 2004 (Chambers County, TX) was 23.2 km/yr. From 2000 to 2004, annual mean centroids of moth trap counts moved 29.3 km, however 95% C.I. overlapped across years. Minimizing sugarcane stress will play a major role in managing this invasive pest when it becomes established in Louisiana.