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Effects of artificial shade on attack by the mahogany shoot borer, Hypsipyla robusta (Moore)

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1 Swietenia macrophylla King (Meliaceae: Swietenioideae) provides one of the premier timbers of the world. The mahogany shoot borer Hypsipyla robusta Moore (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) is an economically important pest of S. macrophylla throughout Asia, Africa and the Pacific. No viable method of controlling this pest is known. Previous observations have suggested that the presence of overhead shade may reduce attack by H. robusta, but this has not been investigated experimentally. This research was therefore designed to assess the influence of light availability on shoot-borer attack on S. macrophylla, by establishing seedlings under three different artificial shade regimes, then using these seedlings to test oviposition preference of adult moths, neonate larval survival and growth and development of shoot borer larvae.

2 Oviposition preference of shoot borer moths was tested on leaves from seedlings grown under artificial shade for 63 weeks. A significant difference in choice was recorded between treatments, with 27.4 ± 1.5 eggs laid under high shade and 87.1 ± 1.8 under low shade.

3 Neonate larval survival on early flushing leaflets of S. macrophylla did not differ significantly between shade treatments. Larval growth rate, estimated by measuring daily frass width, was significantly higher for those larvae fed on seedlings from the high and medium shade treatments (0.1 mm/day), than the low shade treatment (0.06 mm/day). In laboratory-reared larvae, the total mass of frass produced was significantly higher in the high shade treatment (0.4 g) than under the low shade treatment (0.2 g).

4 Longer tunnel lengths were bored by larvae in plants grown under high shade (12.0 ± 2.4 cm) than under low shade (7.07 ± 1.9 cm). However, pupal mass under low shade was 48% higher than that under the high shade treatment, suggesting that plants grown under high shade were of lower nutritional quality for shoot borer larvae.

5 These results indicate that shading of mahogany seedlings may reduce the incidence of shoot borer attack, by influencing both oviposition and larval development. The establishment of mahogany under suitable shade regimes may therefore provide a basis for controlling shoot borer attack using silvicultural approaches.

Keywords: Light availability; Meliaceae; Swietenia macrophylla; mahogany; pest attack

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2002

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