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Insect Feeding on Sugarcane Smut in Hawaii

Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society
Smithsonian Institution Biodiversity Heritage Library
Publication Date
  • Medicine


Vol. XXII, No. 3, December, 1977 451 Insect Feeding on Sugarcane Smut in Hawaii1 2 P. A. Bowler\ E. E. Trujillch, and J. W. Beardsley, Jr.* The insect fauna associated with sugarcane smut whips is not well understood. Although various insects have been reported (Hayward, 1943), only Phalacrus immarginatus Champion has been well documented as a predator feeding on chlamydospores (Agarwal, 1956). In India this species spends its entire life cycle on the host plant; within smut whips during development (egg and larva) and on the leaves when mature. Extensive insect damage to smut whips on rattoon crops and older stands with secondary lateral whip formation was observed in experimental plots of infected sugarcane in Hawaii. The smut fungus, Ustilago scitaminea Syd., is a recent accidental introduction to the Hawaiian Islands (Byther, Steiner, and Wismer, 1971), and this study was undertaken as one of a series of investigations of dispersal and mechanical vectors of the disease. Materials and Methods To assess the extent of insect damage to smut whips, fifty whips in each of three approximately one-half acre plots were examined and insect damage was recorded. Insects captured on whips were dissected after being cleaned with repeated ethanol wipes, and their viscera were microscopically observed to determine if chlamydospores were present. Representatives of species containing spores were eviscerated and their stomach contents were plated on the smut selective medium of Anderson and Trujillo (1975). The smut selective medium is prepared with 200 ml. V-8 juice (clarified by filtration or centrifugation), 40 g agar, streptomycin sulfate 500 ppm., tetracycline hydrochloride 300 ppm., neomycin sulfate 650 ppm., thiabendazole 10 ppm. and distilled water to make 1000 ml. Viability (percent germination) can be assessed after 24 hours, and species can be distinguished in culture (incubated at 31°C) after four days. Results and Discussion Four species in three families have previously been reported fe

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