Acridid ecology in the sugarcane agro-ecosystem in the Zululand region of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Bam, Adrian ; Addison, Pia ; Conlong, Desmond (2020-01-10)

CITATION: Bam, A., Addison, P. & Conlong, D. 2020. Acridid ecology in the sugarcane agro-ecosystem in the Zululand region of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Journal of Orthoptera Research, 29(1):9–16, doi:10.3897/jor.29.34626.

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Grasshoppers and locusts are well known crop and pasture pests throughout the world. Periodically they cause extensive damage to large areas of crops and grazing lands, which often exacerbate food shortage issues in many countries. In South Africa, acridid outbreaks rarely reach economic proportions, but in sugarcane plantations, localized outbreaks of native acridid species have been reported for the last eight years with increasing frequency and intensity in certain areas. This study was undertaken from May 2012 to May 2013 to identify the economically important acridid species in the sugarcane agroecosystem in these outbreak areas, to monitor seasonal activity patterns, to assess sampling methods, and to determine the pest status of the major species through damage ratings. Five acridid species of particular importance were identified: Nomadacris septemfasciata (Serville), Petamella prosternalis (Karny), Ornithacris cyanea (Stoll), Cataloipus zuluensis Sjötedt, and Cyrtacanthacris aeruginosa (Stoll). All species are univoltine. Petamella prosternalis was the most abundant species and exhibited a winter egg diapause, while N. septemfasciata, the second most abundant species, exhibited a winter reproductive diapause. Petamella prosternalis and N. septemfasciata were significantly correlated with the damage-rating index, suggesting that these two species were responsible for most of the feeding damage found on sugarcane. This study, for the first time, identified the acridid species complex causing damage to sugarcane in the Zululand area of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and documented their population characteristics and related damage. These data are important information on which to base sound integrated pest management strategies.

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