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Sugarcane crop is affected by several spe-

cies of Scarabaeid

cally important major species occurring in IndiCt are Holotrichia consanguinea Blanch in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, H. serrata in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharash- tra and Leucopholis lepidophora Brum, in Maharashtra. The adults of these species feed on host tree foliage like neem, Ailanthus sp. and Acacia sp. The grubs of these beetles feed on roots and underground portion of cane causing drying of clumps or entire crop in a field depend- ing on the population of grubs present.

Nature of injury

The beetles emerging from pupae remain inactive in the soil till the first heavy summer rain in April, by which time their reproductive systems fully mature. These beetles on emer- gence during nights congregate on their food trees and feed on the newly emerging leaves. At day break, they move back to the soil and lay eggs. The first instar grubs on hatching from these eggs feed on organic matter in the soil and on small roots of grasses or other plants. The second and third instar grubs feed voraciously on the roots and underground portion of cane causing drying of clumps. Visible symptom of damage is expressed only when sufficient damage has been done to the roots and underground portion of cane. The cane leaves in a clump, a part of the row or a patch of field show yellowing and drying and ultimately all canes dry in affected regions. The affected clumps can be pulled out without much effort and grown up grubs can be seen below the clumps. Losses

beetle grubs. The economi-

be seen below the clumps. Losses beetle grubs. The economi- Generally the damage by the grubs

Generally the damage by the grubs to sugarcane crop is in patches but the loss can be as high as 80-100 per cent during epidemics, when the entire crop in a field is affected.

Life cycle

Most species of white grub beetles have one year life cycle with egg, three larval instars and a pupal stage. In H. consanguinea, H. serrata and L. lepidophora, the egg period varies from 8-30 days, larval period from 56-292 days and pupal period 10-35 days. The maximum

developmental period


by L. lepido-

The total life cycle is completed




96-357 days. Though pupation takes place by about October-November, the beetle emer- gence occurs only after the next first heavy summer showers.

Factors influencing pest build up

Deforestation has forced these forest dwell- ing insects to migrate to cultivated crops. The grubs are polyphagous and have a wide adapta- bility to different host plants and can survive on grass roots as well. Availability of adequate moisture and abundant roots in sugarcane for a

long time, tend to increase white grub build up markedly. Presence of. host food trees for adult feeding around the cultivated fields, further facili- tates the pest build up. Though the attack is


in moist sandy soils, these grubs can


in clayey as well as black cotton soils.

They can withstand drought by remaining in earthern cells for about 100 days in first instar and upto 112 days 'in grown up stages. High moisture and waterlogged conditions are detri-

mental to the grubs. to come to the surface of soil. Natural enemies rata are
mental to the grubs.
to come to the surface of soil.
Natural enemies
rata are parasitized by
Campsomeris collaris

Heavy rains force the grubs

The grubs of H. consanguinea and H. ser-

Scoliid parasites,

F. and Scalia aurepennis

The grubs, pupae and adults are predated upon by the common crow (Corvus splendens Veill), mynah (Acridotheres tristis W) and the sparrow (Passer domesticus Linn.), when these are exposed at the time of ploughing. The beetles are predated at night by the Indian hoopoe (Upupa indica Nivah) and the toad (Buto mela- nostictus Schn.) feeds on grubs and adults. The carabid beetle (AnthiCi sexguttata Ho.) feeds on the beetles of Holotrichia sp. and the carabid, Pheropsophus sobrinus Dej. feeds on the grubs.

Pathogens affecting the beetles are, the green muscardine fungus (Metarhizium anisop- liae Metch.),two white muscardine fungii, Beauveria bassiana (Sals.) Vuill., and B. brongniartii (Sacc.).


Dutky occurs naturally on grubs.

belonging to Rhabditis sp. parasitizes the eggs and first instar grubs.


milky disease bacterium,

Bacillus popilliae

A nematode

Mechanical: Large scale collection of beetles may be done from their food trees at nights with the help of bright torches immediately after

first summer showers on a compaign basis for about 15 days. The beetles thus collected may be destroyed in kerosinated water.

Cultural: Frequent ploughing of affected fields to expose grubs and pupae to predatory birds may be done immediately after harvest of sugarcane crop.

Ratooning of sugarcane in affected fields may be avoided and paddy can be planted as the next rotation crop. This would facilitate killing of grubs in submerged conditions.

Chemical: Application of HCH 10 per cent dust @ 100 kg/ha mixed with equal quantity of farmyard manure along the rows and irrigating the field to kill newly hatched grubs are useful.

Timely application of 2.5 kg a.i.lha of qui- nalphos granules as side dressing after digging the field to expose the grubs. Foliar


be done on host trees to

HCH may also

of Carbaryl/gamma

kill the beetles.

Recommendations: Since white grubs are not controlled effec- tively by any single method, an integrated
Since white grubs are not controlled effec-
tively by any single method, an integrated
approach comprising of the following measures
may be adopted.
Mechanica! control by large scale collec-
tion of beetles at the
of their mass
Repeated ploughing at the time of land

preparation to expose tory birds.

iii. Crop rotation with paddy.

iv. Avoiding

grubs to preda-

ratooning in affected fields.

v. Timely






insecticides syn-






Script by


Publication: No. 33 (1991)


Dr. K. Mohan Naidu, Director, Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore - 641 007


K. Ananthanarayana


Prepared by : Dr. R. Thiagarajan and Dr. S. Arulraj