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Suitability of brachiaria grass as a trap crop for management of Chilo partellus

Cheruiyot, Duncan, Midega, Charles A.O., Van den Berg, Johnnie, Pickett, John A., Khan, Zeyaur R.
Entomologia experimentalis et applicata 2018 v.166 no.2 pp. 139-148
Brachiaria, Chilo partellus, Sorghum bicolor, Zea mays, boring insects, corn, cropping systems, eggs, grasses, host plants, host preferences, ingestion, instars, integrated pest management, larvae, leaves, moths, open pollination, oviposition, plant tissues, trap crops, trichomes
The cereal stemborer Chilo partellus (Swinhoe) (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) is a major insect pest of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench) and maize (Zea mays L.) in Africa. Trap cropping systems have been shown to be a valuable tool in management of this pest. To optimize trap cropping strategies, an understanding of host‐plant preference for moth oviposition and host suitability for larval survival on potential trap plants is a prerequisite. Therefore, we assessed seven brachiaria accessions (Poaceae) for preference by C. partellus moths and subsequent larval performance. In two‐choice tests with a local open‐pollinated maize variety (cv. Nyamula), significantly higher numbers of eggs were deposited on brachiaria accessions Marandu, Piata, and Xaraes than on maize, whereas fewer eggs were recorded on plants of Mulato II, Mulato I, and Cayman. There was a significant and negative correlation between the trichome density on plant leaves and C. partellus oviposition preference for brachiaria. In addition to poor larval performance on brachiaria, there was no clear ranking in the accessions regarding larval orientation, settling, arrest, and food ingestion and assimilation. First instars did not consume leaf tissues of brachiaria plants but consumed those of maize, which also suffered more stem damage than brachiaria plants. No larvae survived on brachiaria plant tissue for longer than 5 days, whereas 79.2% of the larvae survived on maize. This study highlights the preferential oviposition of C. partellus on brachiaria plants over maize and the negative effects that these accessions have on subsequent larval survival and development. Our findings support the use of brachiaria as a trap crop for management of C. partellus through a push‐pull technology.