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About a week ago Calcasieu Parish County Agent Jimmy Meaux e-mailed me a picture of a borer larva in rice that he suspected was the Mexican rice borer (MRB). This was a highly suspect sample due to a combination of the morphology of the larva and where it was found – which was in the same area where LDAF caught the first adult MRBs in pheromone traps in Louisiana. This confirms our suspicion that MRB are now establishing and reproducing in Louisiana. I would strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with identification of this pest. Below is some information on this particular field infestation from Johnny’s Saichuk’s field notes. Following this I’m including some information on identification of MRB.

Field Notes
July 14, 2011
Johnny Saichuk

“Well, it is official; we have the Mexican rice borer in Louisiana. Earlier reports were of male moths caught in pheromone traps. Last week county agent Jimmy Meaux was called to a field in Calcasieu parish where he tentatively identified borer larvae as Mexican rice borer. He sent them to Dr. Natalie Hummel whose associate Anna Meszaros and graduate student (under Dr. Gene Reagan) Julien Beuzelin examined the specimens. They confirmed the identity. This afternoon I visited the field with Jimmy where we easily found several borers including the one shown here. I sent the photo to the experts and they just confirmed it. That is one of the advantages of the technology we have today. The photograph was taken at 2:12 p.m. and by 5:30 it was confirmed.

Mexican rice borer larvae infesting a rice plant in Vinton, LA. Photo by Johnny Saichuk.

Jimmy told the farmer, Chris Habetz and his son Brad, we would put up a plaque at their farm. They did not see the humor. The field where this borer was collected had no insecticide seed treatment; however a nearby field is treated with Dermacor. We will follow up to see if borers are discovered there or if the insecticide prevents them from becoming a problem. This is a manageable albeit unwelcome pest. Dermacor and/or timely applications of the pyrethroids can keep them in check in rice.”

The LDAF MRB trapping program is an ongoing survey program in southwest Louisiana that is documenting the spread of this pest. LDAF state entomologist, Tad Hardy, sent me an updated map on the trap counts of MRB in Louisiana.

If you click here you will see a Map of MRB Finds as of July 2011. This map was provided by Mr. Tad Hardy of LDAF.

As Johnny said in his comments, fortunately the MRB is a manageable pest – in large part due to the efforts of LSU AgCenter sugarcane Entomologist Dr. Gene Reagan who has been studying this pest in Texas for decades. MRB effects both sugarcane and rice production in Texas and it appears that it will be something we will be managing in Louisiana also. The first step is to learn to properly identify the pest.

There are a few key characters that will get you most of the way toward identification, but to truly confirm the species you need to view it under a dissecting microscope. If you find specimens that you strongly suspect are MRB you can send them to me and we will confirm the identification. Following are two pictures taken by Anna Meszaros that illustrate the key character used to separate MRB from the rice stalk borer.

1, the color of the hairs:

MRB: light hairs

RSB: dark hairs

2, on the meso-and metathorax of the larva (right above the “prolegs”)

MRB has only one seta (hair)

RSB has two setae.

Mexican rice borer larvae - note the honey colored head capsule and the presence of a single seta (hair) on the meso and meta-thorax dorsal (above) to the proleg. Photo by Anna Meszaros.

Rice stalk borer larvae - note the dark brown head capsule and the presence of two setae (hairs) on the meso and meta-thorax dorsal (above) to the prolegs. Photo by Anna Meszaros.

For more information please refer to this publication: KEY TO SELECTED PYRALOIDEA (LEPIDOPTERA) LARVAE INTERCEPTED AT U. S. PORTS OF ENTRY: REVISION OF PYRALOIDEA IN “KEYS TO SOME FREQUENTLY INTERCEPTED LEPIDOPTEROUS LARVAE” BY WEISMAN, 1986, M. ALMA SOLIS

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The Mexican rice borer (MRB) has now been found near Lake Charles, LA.  This link will take you to an LSU AgCenter press release that provides the latest update: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/news_archive/2011/may/headline_news/Mexican-rice-borer-advances-in-La.htm

Fortunately, LSU AgCenter Professor Gene Reagan has conducted intensive research on this pest for the past ten years, and we are prepared with management options in hand and ready to use as needed.  He has provided an Agent training in Texas for a number of years.  Following is a link to a blog posting about the most recent site visit.  Within the blog you will find a link to the handout, which contains information on recent management recommendations:

https://louisianariceinsects.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/lsu-agcenter-mexican-rice-borer-site-visit-beaumont-tx/

It is important that you learn to identify this pest, and distinguish it from other borers that can be found in rice or cane. You can study up on the pest by downloading these two LSU AgCenter numbered pubs:

This publication includes images of SCB and MRB for comparison:

http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/communications/publications/Publications+Catalog/Crops+and+Livestock/Rice/Rice+Pests+of+Louisiana.htm

This publication provides images of MRB:

http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/communications/publications/Publications+Catalog/Crops+and+Livestock/Rice/Mexican+Rice+Borer+Identification+Card.htm

Following is a Louisiana Agriculture article that includes the latest information on MRB research that has been generated by Dr. Reagan’s lab:

http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/communications/publications/agmag/Archive/2010/fall/Advanced-Management-Research-and-the-Mexican-Rice-Borer.htm

In sugarcane, there are a number of recommended management practices to prevent injury from MRB.

In rice, the seed treatment Dermacor X-100 should provide control of this pest. Pyrethroids can also be used, but timing of application is critical. It is necessary to detect an infestation when larvae are still feeding in the sheath area. Once the larvae penetrate the stem, pyrethroid insecticides will not provide acceptable control because they are not able to come into contact with the larva.

If you find a larvae in rice or cane and suspect that it is MRB, please call me and we can arrange to pick up the sample.

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LSU AgCenter press release

Distributed 12/14/10

 The Mexican rice borer, a threat to sugarcane and rice, has moved eastward from Texas extending farther into Louisiana 

The insect was first found in Louisiana in December 2008 north of Vinton.

On Nov. 22, 2010, four male adults were found in a pheromone trap about six miles southwest of Sulphur, according to Gene Reagan, LSU AgCenter entomologist. Chris Carlton, director of the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum, confirmed that these trap catches were Mexican rice borers.

“This trap location is adjacent to a grassy area where no crops are grown, and it is within 15 to 18 miles of commercial sugarcane fields south of Lake Charles,” Reagan said.

Reagan’s graduate student, Julien Beuzelin, said the traps are set out by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. “Without their work, it would have not been possible to detect this insect’s movement,” Beuzelin said.

He said the LDAF had planned to end the monitoring program in early December, but after the Nov. 22 samples were found, the department has decided to continue the program into the spring.

Beuzelin said the discovery is a reliable indicator that the pest is continuing to move eastward in Louisiana.

“Since first being found in south Texas in 1980, they have consistently expanded their range along the Gulf Coast,” Beuzelin said.

In 2006, the Mexican rice borer was found in east Texas just one county away from Louisiana, and it was anticipated that it would be found in Louisiana in 2008. Only two weeks before the end of 2008, borers showed up in two pheromone traps five miles apart on the Louisiana-Texas line north of Vinton.

A 2007 study by LSU and Texas A&M projected an annual $45 million loss of revenue for Louisiana rice farmers once the entire state is infested.

The estimated damage for sugarcane is projected at up to $220 million in the next few years. Mexican rice borers are not obvious pests in rice until the crop is in the boot stage. But by the time it is found within rice plants, Reagan said, studies with Texas colleagues show that the population jumps rapidly. Reagan said that prompted the question to arise regarding the pest’s overwintering habitat.

Between growing seasons, the insect is found in high numbers in grasses such as Johnsongrass and vaseygrass.

Once the insect bores into sugarcane, insecticides don’t work well because the cavity created by the borer is filled with chewed plant material, frass, blocking a chemical’s entry, he said.

Insecticides work better on the pest in rice, Reagan said. However, three applications may be required in some east Texas areas. 

A new seed treatment, Dermacor, appears to help control the pest in rice. Originally, Dermacor was developed as a seed treatment for drill-seeded rice against the rice water weevil.

# # #

Contact: Gene Reagan at 225-578-1827 or treagan@agcenter.lsu.edu

Writer: Bruce Schultz at 337-788-8821 or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

To learn more about Mexican Rice Borer you can visit: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/communications/publications/Publications+Catalog/Crops+and+Livestock/Insect+and+Disease+Control/rice/Mexican+Rice+Borer+Identification+Card.htm.

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The LSU AgCenter is fortunate to have a very positive working relationship with the LDAF.  I want to make sure you are aware of these outreach sessions that will be attended by Commissioner Mike Strain.  Below is an announcement from LDAF.

In March 2010, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) will host nine outreach sessions throughout Louisiana.  The sessions are designed to inform the agricultural community, decision-makers and the general public about LDAF’s mission and responsibilities.

The LDAF staff would like to meet you and hear your comments, questions and concerns. Based on your input, LDAF will be able to address pressing needs regarding agriculture and rural economic development in ways that will be beneficial for everyone.

LDAF offices that will be represented at the sessions are:

  • Forestry
  • Agricultural & Environmental Sciences
  • Agro-Consumer Services
  • Animal Health & Food Safety
  • Soil & Water Conservation
  • Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority
  • International Trade (Southern United States Trade Association)

Commissioner Mike Strain will attend each of the sessions.  Local elected officials have been invited to attend the outreach sessions to learn more about the concerns of the agricultural community how they may play a role in helping meet those needs.

The outreach sessions will be held at nine different locations throughout the state:

  • Monday, March 1                  LDAF Monroe District Office, 6-8:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 3           LDAF Haughton District Office, 6-8:00 p.m.
  • Monday, March 8                  Welsh Community Center, 6-8:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 10         Peltier Park, Thibodaux, 6-8:00 p.m.
  • Monday, March 15                Louisiana Emergency Shelter, Alexandria, 6-8:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 16                LDAF Hammond District Office, 6-8:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 17         Opelousas Civic Center/LDAF District Office, 6-8:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 18              East Jefferson Library, Metairie, 6-8:00 p.m.
  • Friday, March 19                    LDAF Baton Rouge Office – Ag Day, 2-4:00 p.m.

The LDAF wants to meet you and hear your thoughts and comments.  Mark your calendars with the upcoming dates so you will not miss this opportunity!  For more information, visit us on Facebook or www.ldaf.state.la.us or call Dr. Carrie Castille at 225-922-1234.

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