Selective enhancement of parasitoids of rice Lepidoptera pests by sesame (Sesamum indicum) flowers

Abstract

Rice is one of the most important global crops but, despite suffering serious insect pest damage, has been less the subject of conservation biological control research compared with crops of importance in developed countries. Earlier studies of sesame (Sesamum indicum) as a nectar plant grown on the bunds around rice crop to promote natural enemies of rice pests had focused on the natural enemies of planthopper pests. But there is little available information on the effects of this plant’s nectar on parasitoids of important rice stem borer pests, or on the extent to which sesame may be a selective food plant such that adult Lepidoptera do not feed on its nectar. The present laboratory study assessed the effect of sesame flowers on Apanteles ruficrus, Cotesia chilonis and Trichogramma chilonis and their stem borer hosts, Sesamia inferens and Chilo suppressalis. Adult survival of all parasitoid species was increased by the presence of S. indicum flowers compared with a water control. Realized fecundity of T. chilonis was significantly enhanced by sesame flowers. Egg production of both stem borer species was comparable for S. indicum and the water treatment, and significantly lower than the honey solution control. The same trend, illustrating lack of benefit from access to sesame nectar, was also apparent in adult longevity of C. suppressalis. These findings indicate that sesame is a selective food plant that is unlikely to promote key Lepidoptera pests of rice when used in the field though it does benefit parasitoids representing three genera.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Mr Qian Minjie and Lu Tao for their assistance with parasitoid experiments in Zhejiang Academy of Agriculture Sciences (ZAAS) and Miss Sylvia Villareal and Josie Lynn Catindig for their technical assistance with stem borer experiments in International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Funding for this study was provided jointly by the National Basic Research Program of China (973, Grant No. 2013CD127600), and the Asian Development Bank (TA7648-R-RDTA) coordinated by the IRRI, Los Baños Philippines. Mrs A Johnson helped with manuscript preparation.

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Correspondence to Zhongxian Lu or Geoff M. Gurr.

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Handling Editor: Dirk Babendreier.

Pingyang Zhu, Gengwei Wang and Xusong Zheng have contributed equally to this paper.

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Zhu, P., Wang, G., Zheng, X. et al. Selective enhancement of parasitoids of rice Lepidoptera pests by sesame (Sesamum indicum) flowers. BioControl 60, 157–167 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10526-014-9628-1

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Keywords

  • Conservation biological control
  • Ecological engineering
  • Stem borer
  • Apanteles ruficrus
  • Cotesia chilonis
  • Trichogramma chilonis
  • Sesamia inferens
  • Chilo suppressalis