Country-wide surveys of lepidopteran stem borers in wild host plants were undertaken between 2006 and 2009 in South Africa and 2005 and 2010 in Mozambique. A total of 4438 larvae were collected from 65 wild host plants in South Africa and 1920 larvae from 30 wild host plants in Mozambique. In South Africa and Mozambique, 50 and 39 stem borer species were recovered, respectively, with four new species and two new genera among noctuids. Less than 5% of the total number of species collected are considered to be economically important in Africa. These species were Busseola fusca (Fuller) (Noctuidae), Chilo partellus (Swinhoe) (Crambidae) and Sesamia calamistis Hampson (Noctuidae). Data from this study and others in East Africa on the very low abundance of stem borers in wild host plants question the putative role of wild host plants as reservoir for stem borer pests. One new host plant family (Prioniaceae), as well as 24 and 13 wild hosts from South Africa and Mozambique respectively, was added to the list of known hosts in Africa.