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Keywords:

  • maize and wild grass hosts;
  • parasitoids;
  • stemborers

Abstract:  In Cameroon, the noctuid Busseola fusca is the most important pest of maize. The braconid Cotesia sesamiae, which is the most common larval parasitoid of noctuid stemborers in eastern Africa, was absent on B. fusca attacking maize. Thus, it is planned to introduce several strains of the parasitoid from Kenya. Pre-release surveys were undertaken in major maize growing areas to catalogue stemborer species, and larval and pupal parasitoids on maize and four wild host plant species. On maize, B. fusca was the predominant borer in all ecozones except for the lowland coastal forest, usually accounting for 60–99%, followed by the pyralid Eldana saccharina in the forest zone and the crambid Chilo sp. in the mid-altitudes. Contrary to what was reported before, the noctuid Poeonoma serrata– and not B. fusca– was the predominant borer on elephant grass, constituting 70–96% of all borers. On wild sorghum in the forest zone, the noctuid Sesamia poephaga was the most abundant species, while on Panicum sp., Chilo sp. predominated. On Setaria megaphylla in the forest zone, Chilo sp. was the most abundant species followed by Busseola quadrata. Busseola fusca was scarce on all wild grass species, indicating that previous reports on the predominance of this pest species on wild host plants were the result of misidentifications. Three tachinid and 16 hymenopteran parasitoids were obtained, most of them from B. fusca and P. serrata, on maize and Pennisetum purpureum respectively. C. sesamiae was scarce and never recovered from B. fusca on maize. In view of the new findings, acceptability and suitability studies involving the different stemborer species identified from wild plant hosts are required to determine if they will form a reproductive sink or perennate C. sesamiae populations during the off-season when maize is scarce and B. fusca is diapausing.