The sugar cane Moth Borer larva. (Ministry of Agriculture)??

The major pest of sugar cane in Barbados – the Moth Borer- has resurfaced in the island and efforts are under way to bring the insect under control.

This was revealed by Head of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Entomology Section, Ian Gibbs, who said over the last two to three years there was a dramatic increase in the damage caused by the Moth Borer to local sugar cane.

He explained that the crop pest was previously under control by two small parasitoids – a tiny wasp (Cotesia flavipes) and the Cuban fly (L-ixophaga diatraeae).

As such, Mr. Gibbs said the Agronomy Research and Variety Testing Unit (ARVTU) of the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) had set up a small laboratory at its facility in St. George to mass produce one of the parasitoids – the Cotesia flavipes.

According to him, the aim is to cultivate this parasitoid in large numbers and release them in areas of high Moth Borer damage.

Mr. Gibbs pointed out that part of the Entomology Section’s work programme included monitoring major insect crop pests including the Sugar Cane Moth Borer and as such, it would provide assistance to the ARVTU’s parasitoid programme.

"The assistance will include cooperating with the ARVTU to mass rear the parasitoid and the section’s staff will provide support in the collection of Moth Borer larvae from sugar cane fields throughout the island. The collected larvae will be utilised to increase the number of parasitoids produced," he said.

The Entomology Head added that staff from the section would carry out sugar cane field collections three days a week during the dry season and he urged local farmers to cooperate with Ministry officials.

"We would appreciate cooperation from sugar cane farmers during this exercise as we seek to bring this pest under control once again," Mr. Gibbs concluded.


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