M.Sc. in Entomology
Department of Zoology and Entomology
University of Fort Hare
DISTRIBUTION AND DIVERSITY OF CEREAL STEM BORERS AND THEIR HOST PLANTS IN THE EASTERN CAPE PROVINCE, SOUTH AFRICA.
The African continent exhibits marked differences in the distribution of stem borers and the type of host plants they feed on. Stem borer distribution also varies with climatic conditions and landscape. Of the stem borers recorded in the continent, the indigenous Busseola fusca (Lepidoptera:Noctuidae),Sesamia calamistis(Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), Eldana saccharina (Lepidoptera:Pyralidae) and the exotic Chilo partellus(Lepidoptera: Crambidae) and Chilo sacchariphagus(Lepidoptera: Crambidae) are the major pests of cultivated crops such as maize, sugar cane and sorghum. Stem borers also attack a wide range of wild host plants in the families, Poaceae, Cyperaceae and Typhaceae. Wild host plants usually have high stem borer diversity than cultivated plants and serve as reservoirs during the non-cropping season. Knowledge on the diversity of host plants and stem borer species attacking them is crucial for successful prevention and reduction of damage inflicted by these pests .However, the diversity of stem borer in Africa is not well studied due to lack of taxonomic services. Field surveys will be conducted at different localities in the Eastern Cape Province from October 2014 until February 2015. Preliminary results from surveys conducted in the Eastern Cape on wild and cultivated habitats have shown high stem borer diversity, increasing the number of known pest from 3 to 13species. Although DNA based technologies have been encouraged as the best method in species identification, molecular identification was not always effective. Therefore a combined use of both morphological and molecular techniques has been encouraged as a relevant and reliable tool towards understanding stem borer taxonomic relationships. This study is initiated to determine the role of climate, landscape and host plants on the diversity and distribution of stem borers in the province. Relevant statistical procedures will be followed to explain the molecular and morphological diversity of stem borers and their host plants.
Key words: diversity, Eastern Cape, host plant, identification, stem borers