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Louisiana home to “new” invasive species

The channeled apple snail is hardly the only invasive species to be found in Louisiana in the last few years. Natalie Hummel, LSU AgCenter entomologist, recently spoke on some others that growers are dealing with or might see.

South American rice miner

“I haven’t done a lot of work with it. Boris Castro, my predecessor in this job, discovered it.

“At this point, it’s an occasional pest. I did see it in one field last year. They can be treated with a pyrethroid if they’re reducing the stand. It hasn’t been as big a problem as was first anticipated.”

Mexican rice borer

“This is a pest that showed up in some pheromone traps (about a year ago). The traps have been put out and monitored by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) in cooperation with the LSU AgCenter. That’s been going on for the last decade because there has been concern with the movement pattern of the Mexican rice borer out of southern Texas, where it was found in the 1980s. It moved up into the Texas rice belt.

“Gene Reagan, (an LSU AgCenter) sugarcane researcher, has been working with researchers in Texas because the pest is a much more serious in cane than in rice.

“Bottom line: it’s been moving 10 to 15 miles annually, expanding its range towards the northeast. It was expected to show up in Louisiana in 2008 and it did. Two traps each caught one male moth — the pheromone used is specific for the males.”

“At this point, we’re encouraging everyone to learn what the Mexican rice borer looks like. We’ve developed an identification card — mainly to help growers distinguish it from the sugarcane borer. The big difference between the two in their (habits) is the sugarcane borers don’t pack their tunnels with frass. The Mexican rice borers also usually attack a different part of the plant.

“It can be managed successfully, but we hope the Mexican rice borer won’t be much of a problem. Historically, Louisiana hasn’t had as much damage from borers as Texas. We’re not sure why but hope it continues to be the case. If it does become a problem, growers will have to put out more pyrethroids in water-seeded situations.”

(See images of and addition information about the Mexican rice borer at Mexican rice borer.)

Panicle rice mite

The panicle rice mite was found in two commercial fields in Kaplan, La., in 2007. Fortunately, in 2008, it wasn’t located in any commercial fields in the United States. It has, however, been found recently in some California greenhouses.

“We’re unsure why it wasn’t found last year. We monitored the Kaplan fields throughout last winter. We were curious to see if it could overwinter there. It actually went to undetectable levels and when the LDAF re-sampled the field at the end of the crop season no mites were found. The year before, the mites were everywhere — you could have walked in blind, picked a plant and there would have been mites.

“So something happened to the population. The mite may end up being just an occasional pest.”

(See images of and addition information about the Mexican rice borer at panicle rice mite.)

Asian citrus psyllid

A citrus crop pest, the psyllid “is absolutely something farmers should keep an eye out for. It has the potential to completely wipe out citrus production in Louisiana.

“It has also been encountered in a few isolated places in Florida.

“The psyllid itself is a nutrient-sucking pest that will cause declining heath and production in the plants. The real problem is a disease — ‘greening’ disease — the psyllid carries that is much more lethal and damaging to crop production.”

For more information from the LSU AgCenter on 2009 rice varieties and management, including insect pest management, go to LSU AgCenter 2009 Rice Management.


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