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The role of wild grasses in the management of lepidopterous stem-borers on maize in the humid tropics of western Africa

  • R. Ndemah (a1) (a2), S. Gounou (a1) and F. Schulthess (a1)


Sites in the humid forest of Cameroon and the derived savanna of Benin were selected to evaluate the effect of planting border rows of wild host plants on lepidopterous stem-borer infestations and on maize yield. Grass species were chosen that in surveys and greenhouse trials were highly attractive to ovipositing female moths but with offspring mortality of close to 100%, thus acting as trap plants. In Cameroon, elephant grass Pennisetum purpureum Moench significantly lowered infestations of Busseola fusca (Fuller), Sesamia calamistis Hampson and Eldana saccharina Walker and increased yields of maize though the differences were not significant during all three cropping seasons. In 1998 in Benin, the only grass tested, Pennisetum polystachion L., significantly increased parasitism of mainly S. calamistis eggs by Telenomus spp. and larvae by Cotesia sesamiae Cameron and reduced numbers of the cob-borer Mussidia nigrivenella Ragonot. In 1999, three grass species; P. polystachion, Sorghum arundinaceum (Desv.) Stapf and Panicum maximum Jacq. were tested. Panicum maximum was the most efficient species for suppressing S. calamistis and M. nigrivenella infestations and enhancing egg and larval parasitism. In the Benin trials, with the exception of M. nigrivenella damage to cobs, the grass species tested had no beneficial effect on yield because pest densities were too low and also rodent damage to maize was enhanced with grasses in the vicinity of the crop. By contrast, stand losses due to Fusarium verticillioides Sacc. (Nirenberg), were significantly reduced by border rows of grasses.


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The role of wild grasses in the management of lepidopterous stem-borers on maize in the humid tropics of western Africa

  • R. Ndemah (a1) (a2), S. Gounou (a1) and F. Schulthess (a1)


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