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maize stem borer

Maize is the versatile cereal crop grown in more than 160 countries in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions. In India, maize is the third important cereal crop after rice and wheat that provides food, feed and fodder. Maize also serves as a source of raw material for producing hundreds of industrial productslike starch, protein, oil, alcoholic beverages, food sweetners, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, bio fuel etc. In India, it is grown in an area of 8.26 m ha producing 16.68 m tonnes, with an average yield of 2415 kg ha-1. In Andhra Pradesh, it is cultivated in an area of 0.85 m ha producing 4.15 m tonnes with an average yield of 4882 kg ha-1.

        Maize crop is subjected to attack by over 130 insect pests during different stages of its crop growth. However, among all only few of them are serious. The most serious pest being spotted stem borer, Chilo partellus Swinhoe, which is the key pest throughout India during rainy season followed by pink borer, Sesamia inferens Walker, serious in peninsular India during post rainy season and shoot fly, Atherigona soccata Rond and Atherigona naqvii Steyskal, serious in spring season in Northern India, which cause economic yield losses, (Siddiqui and Marwaha, 1993).

        The pink stem borer, S. inferens occurs in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines (Nayar et al., 1976 and Teetes et al.,1983). In India, it is reported as a pest in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Punjab, (Siddiqui and Marwaha, 1993).

        S. inferens is said to be the major serious pest of maize next in importance to C. partellus. In addition to maize, it also infests sorghum, bajra, finger millet, wheat, rice, oat, barley, sugarcane and some grasses (Jepson, 1954 and Butcheswera Rao, 1983a).

        Larvae of the pink borer cause damage by feeding on all parts of maize plant except roots. On hatching, the larvae remain concealed behind the leaf sheath in groups and feed on the epidermal layer of the leaf sheath, preferably on first three leaf sheaths leading to gummy oozing with water soaked lesions. Some larvae migrate to the neighbouring leaf sheaths, while others penetrate in to the stem. Whorl feeding of the larvae result in the formation of rows of oblong, elongated holes in unfolded leaves. The larvae bore into the central shoot resulting in drying up of the growing point and formation of dead hearts in young plants. The larvae also form circular or “S” shaped tunnels filled with excreta inside the stem and, also show exit holes on the surface. Severe damage results in breaking of the stem. Larvae are found feeding on immature cobs, silks and tassel and severe infestation result in stunted plant growth and appearance of cob and tassel at one place (Reddy et al., 2003)

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.