Restricted. South and Southeast Asia, Oceania. In Papua New Guinea.
Minor on rice; a pest of sugarcane. Also attacks sorghum, maize and wild grasses.
Larvae tunnel through internodes of stem to the growing point, killing it; stems pull out easily (‘deadhearts’). Panicles fail to emerge, or emerge with unfilled grain (‘whiteheads’).
Eggs (scale-like) laid in 2-5 rows, white then black. Larvae, white with five bluish-purple lines along body, dark heads. Adult forewings yellowish to brownish, with silver dots and gold fringe; hindwings light brown. Nocturnal.
Natural enemies: many egg and larval parasitoids and predators.
Biosecurity: introduction possible on produce contaminated with infested stems of host plants.
Cultural control: plough land well (to bury larvae/pupae of previous crop); plant at higher density than normal; rotate, e.g., legumes; synchronise plantings with neighbours; submerge eggs by raising water occasionally; weed; apply split applications of N; harvest at ground level to remove larvae; plough in stubble, unharvested plants and weeds; use resistant (short, high tillering, early maturing) varieties.
Chemical control: unlikely to be needed. Use abamectin. Avoid broad-spectrum insecticides to preserve natural enemies.