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Plantwise Technical Factsheet

striped rice stem borer (Chilo suppressalis)

Host plants / species affected
Amaranthus (amaranth)
Echinochloa (barnyardgrass)
Echinochloa colona (junglerice)
Echinochloa spp.
Eleusine indica (goose grass)
Oryza (rice (generic level))
Oryza sativa (rice)
Panicum miliaceum (millet)
Phragmites australis (common reed)
Poaceae (grasses)
Raphanus raphanistrum (wild radish)
Sclerostachya fusca
Sorghum bicolor (sorghum)
Sorghum halepense (Johnson grass)
Typha latifolia (broadleaf cattail)
Xanthium strumarium (common cocklebur)
Zea mays (maize)
Zizania aquatica (annual wildrice)
List of symptoms/signs
Growing point  -  dead heart
Growing point  -  dwarfing; stunting
Growing point  -  external feeding
Growing point  -  internal feeding; boring
Growing point  -  rot
Leaves  -  abnormal forms
Leaves  -  external feeding
Leaves  -  internal feeding
Leaves  -  necrotic areas
Stems  -  dead heart
Stems  -  external feeding
Stems  -  internal feeding
Stems  -  rot
Stems  -  stunting or rosetting
Whole plant  -  dead heart
The most obvious field symptoms of C. suppressalis are 'dead hearts', produced when stem borer larvae kill the growing points of young shoots, and 'white heads', caused by interference with inflorescence development. Stems weakened by stem borers may also lodge. There are other possible causes of all of these symptoms and samples of stems should be dissected to establish that stem borers are responsible for the damage.
Prevention and control


The literature on control of C. suppressalis is extensive. Grist and Lever (1969) and Litsinger (1977) provided brief summaries of the main methods, but the primary literature should be consulted for details. In many rice-growing areas, C. suppressalis is only one of a number of species of lepidopterous stem borer attacking the crop; the relative importance of these species will influence decisions on control, which must be based on local conditions.

Cultural Control

Carryover of populations of larvae and pupae from one cropping period to the next can be minimized by flooding and harrowing or ploughing to turn in stubble and straw and by destruction of any volunteer rice plants that will provide breeding sites between crops. During the cropping period various measures may be used, depending on local conditions. These include regulation of time of planting to avoid periods of peak adult activity (Rustamani et al., 1995), the use of early-maturing varieties to limit the development period of the pest on the crop, and synchronization of plantings and removal of stems close to the ground at harvest so that the borer larvae and pupae are removed with the straw. Studies on the relationship between transplanting times and N-P-K fertilizers were conducted in Korea for different rice pests. Results showed different levels of infestation, but C. suppressalis was strongly influenced by earlier transplanting times (Ma KyoungChul and Lee SeungChan, 1996). Studies on differences between machine transplanted and direct seeded rice showed no difference in the incidence of the pest, only the moment of transplanting was important (Lee SeungChan and Ma KyoungChul, 1997).

Biological Control

Classical biological control has been attempted by introducing the tachinid Paratheresia claripalpis (from South America) into Malaysia and the ichneumonid Eriborus sinicus from Asia to Hawaii (Grist and Lever, 1969), but the main emphasis in biological control at present is through conservation and enhancement of indigenous natural enemies. The most important of these are parasitic Hymenoptera, some parasitic tachinids, and general predators, such as spiders. Some of these are illustrated in Shepard et al. (1987) and Reissig et al. (1986). A survey was conducted in China to compare parasitism in single rice, double rice and wild rice fields. Not only were there differences between the localities, but also in the species composition. The highest parasitism rate was observed in wild rice fields (Jiang MingXing et al., 1999).

Host-Plant Resistance

Much work has been done over many years, especially in Japan and the Philippines, and is continuing in these and other Asian countries. Some highly resistant varieties are known: for example, TKM 6, Taitung 16, Chianan 2, Su-Yai 20, Szu-Mizo, Yabami Montakhab 55, CV 136 and PTB 10. Semi-dwarf varieties, such as IR 20 and IR 26, are moderately resistant. The latest aspects of biotechnology in the development of insect resistance rice are discussed by Katiyar et al. (1999). Physical factors affecting larval survival include the tightness with which the leaf sheath adheres to the stem, the diameter of the stem and its lumen and the amount of sclerenchymatous tissue present. Plants with a high proportion of sclerenchyma, often associated with ridged stems, are less susceptible to boring by larvae. The presence of high percentages of silica in the stems is also linked to varietal resistance.

Transgenic Plants

Several studies have been conducted on the identification of binding sites in Bacillus thuringiensis (Attathom et al., 1995; Fiuza et al., 1996; Lee MiKyong et al., 1997). Transgenic rice plants showed increased resistance in small-scale field tests (Xu DePing et al., 1996) and similar results were obtained on the laboratory (Mochizuki et al., 1999). A larger scale trial using 2600 trangenic rice plants showed promising results in obtaining insect resistant rice plants (Cheng XiongYing et al., 1998).

Chemical Control

Due to the variable regulations around (de-)registration of pesticides, we are for the moment not including any specific chemical control recommendations. For further information, we recommend you visit the following resources:

Many chemicals have been used against C. suppressalis and other rice stem borers, but the overuse of chemical insecticides has caused severe pest outbreaks, such as that of the brown planthopper, Nilaparvata lugens, and is now generally considered to be an unsuitable control method. Grist and Lever (1969) reviewed information available up to that date. The use of insect growth regulators is an important development (Nakagawa et al., 1995; Nakagawa, 1996; Shimizu et al., 1997). Tebufenozide (moulting accelerating insecticide) proved to be as efficient as organophosphorous insecticides in Spain and pyrethroids in France. It has the advantage of being low in fish and avian toxicity as well as safe to beneficials. Compatibility with other commonly used herbicides is an added advantage (Mattioda and Jousseaume, 1999). The use of pesticides poses problems in Asia where mulberry trees, which are used for the cultivation of Bombyx mori, are usually planted around rice fields. Insecticides were screened for control of C. suppressalis in rice, but low toxicity to B. mori (Liu GuangJie et al., 1999).

Pheromonal Control

Campion and Nesbitt (1983) reviewed the results of field tests in the Philippines, Korea, Japan, Iran and France and discussed the possibilities of using pheromones against this and other stem borers. They concluded that mass trapping is unlikely to provide satisfactory control, but that the development of mating disruption techniques against C. suppressalis merited further study. Since then, Guo et al. (1992) have reported the use of synthetic pheromone to disrupt mating of this species in a field trial in China. Differences in the monitoring range of sex pheromones were observed by Tsuchida and Ichihashi (1995) in Japan. The range seemed to be narrower in the second flight season than in the first one, probably because of competition between virgin females. Kondo and Tanaka (1995) observed a linear relationship between the total number of catches using pheromone traps and the proportion of injured rice plant stems. Thus, it appeared that rice plant damage could be estimated using pheromone trap catches. A more detailed threshold was worked out by Kojima et al. (1996).

Integrated Pest Management

This is now the preferred method of control for pests of rice. Teng (1994) recorded that large-scale implementation of rice IPM was stimulated in the 1970s in several Asian countries by pest resurgences resulting from the indiscriminate use of insecticides. Five countries have now enacted legislation to support IPM. The inter-country programme of FAO, the UN, IRRI and national services is developing implementation, which is based on host-plant resistance, location-specific cultural practices and conservation of natural enemies.

Phytosanitary Measures

Formal phytosanitary measures against this species have not been formulated, but general phytosanitary measures should be implemented to limit the possible spread of eggs, larvae or pupae on infested plant material. The fact that C. suppressalis has become established in France, Spain and Portugal indicates the potential for long-distance movements and there would seem to be a real danger that it could be introduced into Africa, or other ecologically favourable areas.

According to Grist and Lever (1969), C. suppressalis has been known for many years as one of the most serious pests of rice in the Far East. Waterhouse (1993), in a review of the major pests of agriculture in South-East Asia, ranks it as very widespread and very important in Indonesia; widespread and important in Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines and important locally in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. Kiritani (1990) reviewed recent population trends in temperate and subtropical Asia and reported a trend towards declining C. suppressalis populations in Japan, Korea and Taiwan over the past 35 years. Possible causes were early planting (associated with the use of high-tillering varieties), intensive use of pesticides, early harvesting and increasing mechanization.
Related treatment support
Plantwise Factsheets for Farmers
HE, Z.; Rong, B.; Li, W.; CABI, 2012, Chinese language
Thailand, Bureau of Rice Research and Development; CABI, Thai language
Pest Management Decision Guides
Khashaveh, A.; Haroon; CABI, 2017, English language
Weimao, Z.; Haomin, P.; Hongsong, L.; CABI, 2013, Chinese language
Thailand, Bureau of Rice Research and Development, Rice Department; CABI, 2013, English language
CABI; CABI, 2015, English language
Bhandari, N. R.; Thapa, R. B.; CABI, 2015, English language
External factsheets
IRRI Rice Factsheets: Crop Health, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), English language
IRRI Factsheets, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), English language
PlantVillage disease guide, PlantVillage, English language
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