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Plantwise Technical Factsheet

yellow top borer of sugarcane (Chilo infuscatellus)

Host plants / species affected
Avena sativa (oats)
Cymbopogon winterianus (java citronellagrass)
Cynodon dactylon (Bermuda grass)
Cyperus rotundus (purple nutsedge)
Echinochloa colona (junglerice)
Hordeum vulgare (barley)
Oryza sativa (rice)
Panicum (millets)
Pennisetum glaucum (pearl millet)
Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)
Sorghum bicolor (sorghum)
Zea mays (maize)
List of symptoms/signs
Growing point  -  internal feeding; boring
Leaves  -  external feeding
Leaves  -  internal feeding
Stems  -  internal feeding
Symptoms are similar to those produced by other lepidopterous stem borers. Young larvae eat small holes in leaves, especially in the leaf-sheaths, and at a later stage the growing points are killed. The terminal leaves then die and form characteristic dead hearts. Older larvae tunnel in stems eating out extensive galleries and excreting frass, which resembles moist sawdust. Tunnelled stems may break, especially in high winds.
Prevention and control

Cultural Control

Various cultural measures have been recommended, but may not always be practicable in sugar plantations. These include:

- destruction of crop residues and wild grass hosts to limit carry-over from one planting to another, including burying or burning trash (but this may have adverse effects on the survival of natural enemies) (Zhang et al., 1992)

- adjustment of planting dates to avoid peaks of adult activity (Duhra et al., 1993; Mali, 1991; Jena et al., 1996; Jhansi and Rao, 1996)

- changing planting rates (Singla and Duhra, 1990; Saikia and Roy, 1998)

- manipulating row orientation (Singla and Duhra, 1992)

- trash mulching to trap adults (Avasthy and Tiwari, 1986)

- destruction of dead-hearts (Avasthy and Tiwari, 1986)

- irrigation (Avasthy and Tiwari, 1986)

- companion cropping (Varun et al., 1994; Rajendran et al., 1998)

Some other methods are also noted by Avasthy and Tiwari (1986).

Biological Control

Classical biological control of C. infuscatellus has been attempted by the introduction of tachinids from the Caribbean (Lixophaga diatraeae and Paratheresia claripalpis) and from Africa (Sturmiopsis parasitica). So far introductions of one or more of these species to India, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines have failed to establish (Crosskey, 1976).

Conservation, mass rearing and release of indigenous parasitoids has been more successful. In Pakistan inundative releases of 45 million Trichogramma chilonis on experimental areas over 3 years was considered to give effective control (Ashraf et al., 1993) and this and other species of Trichogramma have also been used successfully in India (Misra et al., 1986, 1997; Maninder et al., 1996), China (Zhou, 1988), Thailand (Meenakanit et al., 1988) and the Philippines (Alba, 1991). A study on the release of two strains of Cotesia flavipes, one an indigenous strain and the other from Indonesia, was conduncted in India by Shenhmar and Brar (1996). The indigenous strain was more effective in controlling C. infuscatellus.

Other potential biological control agents include Beauvaria (Sivasankaran et al., 1990), Nosema (Odindo, 1990), granulosis virus (Easwaramoorthy and Jayaraj, 1991), Cotesia (Shami and Mohyuddin, 1992) and Sturmiopsis (David et al., 1989).

Easwaramoorthy et al. (1996) studied the life history and prey acceptance of commonly occurring spiders in sugarcane ecosystems in India.

Host-Plant Resistance

Many sugarcane cultivars show some level of field resistance or tolerance to C. infuscatellus in some circumstances, but reactions vary. Anatomical, physical and chemical characteristics of four different cultivars were assessed in India by Kennedy and Nachiappan (1992) and they concluded that factors conferring resistance included a relatively thick sclerenchymatous layer of tissue in the leaf-sheaths, shorter vascular bundle distance, higher compressive strength of stalks, higher tillering ability, high contents of silica, potassium, magnesium, phenol and ascorbic acid and low contents of nitrogen, chlorophyll and amino acids.

Programmes of screening for resistance are active in countries where this pest occurs (Arvind Misra and Sardana, 1996; Verma et al., 1996; Manager Singh et al., 1997, 1998; Sardana, 1998a, b; Singh et al., 1998; Verma and Choudhary, 1998; Verma et al., 1998; Karnatak et al., 1999; Sardana, 1999a; Thirumurugan et al., 1999).

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:

C. infuscatellus is predominantly a pest of sugarcane. Avasthy and Tiwari (1986) reviewed records of losses in India, where it is a major pest in many parts of the country. They noted the difficulty in assessing losses, especially those resulting from attack on young plants, which have been calculated as 30-75% shoot loss in different cane-growing regions. Estimates of effects on yield suggest a loss of 0.35 tonnes of sugar for every 5% increase in stem borer incidence in crops yielding 100 tonnes per hectare with 10% sugar recovery. Sugarcane in India has been shown to tolerate up to 15% damage by C. infuscatellus without much decline in the cane population, commercial cane sugar percentage and cane yield (Raja et al., 1990).

Other results generally make comparisons between increased yields when control methods are applied or they refer to losses caused by a mixture of pests. These are both described here.

In Madhya Pradesh, India, sugarcane sprayed with granulosis virus lead to a significant decrease in infestation by C. infuscatellus and produced cane yields of 80-81 t/ha compared with control yields of 70 t/ha (Chaudhary and Singh, 1998). Halimie et al. (1994) recorded the greatest cane yields (32-34 tons/acre) when control measures against borers, including C. infuscatellus, and weeds were applied. They also noted that the greatest sugarcane borer infestation levels resulted in the lowest yields. In the Indian Punjab, chemical control treatments also resulted in significantly better cane yields compared with the untreated controls (Duhra, 1999).

In Tamil Nadu, field trials in sugarcane indicated that the application of insecticides against C. infuscatellus increased yields by up to 22% (Logiswaran, 1982). Singh and Singh (1978) also reported that chemical treatment reduced the number of plants attacked by C. infuscatellus, the result being enhanced yields.

Chang and Wang (1995) reported that brix, purity and sugar content of cane juice were significantly lower in sugarcane varieties infested with a number of borers including C. infuscatellus.

The effect of planting date (ranging from mid-February to mid-March) on the incidence of C. infuscatellus was assessed in Andhra Pradesh. However, the cumulative percentage incidence of the borer was above the economic threshold level at all five planting dates examined (Jhansi and Rao, 1996). In a study in the Indian Punjab, the incidence of C. infuscatellus increased and cane yield decreased significantly when sugarcane was planted late (mid-April) rather than early (mid-February). Differences between pest incidence and cane yield were wider between mid-March and mid-April than between mid-February and mid-March plantings (Duhra et al., 1993).

Levels of drip irrigation and their effect on C. infuscatellus incidence were studied on sugarcane in Gujarat. The maximum number of deadhearts due to C. infuscatellus were recorded at the minimum level of irrigation. As irrigation levels increased, the damage due to the pest decreased (Parsana et al., 1994).

In Pakistan, it was reported that the major importance of this pest was in the early stages of the crop, the whole plant being damaged during this period. In older plants, both sugar recovery and tonnage were reduced (Irshad et al., 1990). In China, a significant correlation was found between the number of withered young leaves resulting from borer infestation and yield losses. Using an exponential regression equation allowed the author to calculate yield reduction and gave reliable results (An, 1982).

Waterhouse (1993) records C. infuscatellus as a widespread and very important pest in the Philippines, as widespread and important in Cambodia, and as locally important in Thailand, Laos and Indonesia. It has also been reported as a minor pest of sugarcane in Papua New Guinea (Li, 1990).

Related treatment support
Plantwise Factsheets for Farmers
Pakistan, Directorate General Agriculture (Ext. & A. R.); CABI, 2014, English language
Pakistan, Directorate General Agriculture (Ext. & A. R.); CABI, 2014, Urdu language
Aruna, T.; CABI, 2012, Tamil language
Aruna, T.; CABI, 2012, English language
Pest Management Decision Guides
Naseer, S.; CABI, 2014, English language
Naseer, S.; CABI, 2014, Urdu language
Saminathan, V. R.; Sudakar, G.; Chozhan, K.; Girija, D. S.; CABI, 2014, English language
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