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Plantwise Technical Factsheet

giant borer (Phragmataecia castaneae)

Host plants / species affected
Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)
Saccharum robustum
Saccharum spontaneum (wild sugarcane)
Sorghum propineum
List of symptoms/signs
Stems  -  internal feeding
Giant borer tunnels occur in the stems of sugarcane, wild Saccharum and sorghum.

When the growing point is destroyed the resulting condition, known as dead heart, is clearly visible. Pupal exuviae seen at the exit holes are a sign of infestation.
Prevention and control

Sanitary Methods

When seed cuttings are transported from an infested area to a P. castaneae-free area dry leaves are removed before shipment. Seed cuttings are also treated with hot water at 50°C for 2 hours (an operation usually done against ratoon stunting disease).

Resistant Varieties

The use of resistant varieties plays an important role in integrated pest management. Some commercial varieties show a differential response to P. castaneae attack in the field, and cultivars F 156, CAC 57-11 and Phill 53-33 showed lower levels of infestation (Suhartawan and Wirioatmodjo, 1996). Before introducing new varieties to an area where giant borer is dominant, their levels of resistance to the pest should be determined.

Biological Control

A few parasites are known to attack P. castaneae. Among them, Tumidiclava sp. is a likely candidate, but until now it could be mass-reared only on its original host. It was used in a biocontrol project in Medan, Indonesia in 1978 resulting in 53% egg parasitism and a reduction of joint infestation from 17-42% to <5% (Suhartawan and Wirioatmodjo, 1996). Effort should be taken to search for an alternative host in order to exploit this parasite as a biocontrol agent in large sugarcane-growing areas.

Chemical Control

Insecticides such as carbaryl and acephate gave effective control of P. castaneae (Suhartawan and Wirioatmodjo, 1996), but their undesirable effects have not been evaluated.

In sugarcane plantations in Malaysia, P. castaneae is reported to be of minor importance by Lim and Pan (1980) but Waterhouse (1993) listed this as a locally important pest. At Medan in North Sumatra, Indonesia the pest caused 17-43% joint infestation in 1977-78 (Boedijono, 1980; Thompson, 1977). Each percentage joint infestation causes a 0.7% reduction in sugar yield (Anonymous, 1979).
Related treatment support
External factsheets
Sistemas de Produção Embrapa - Publicações eletrônicas, Embrapa, Portuguese language
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