oa African Entomology - An evaluation of the pest status and research conducted on phytophagous Lepidoptera on cultivated plants in South Africa

Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1021-3589



A literature survey was conducted on Lepidoptera that damage cultivated plants in South Africa, to estimate the present status of local lepidopteran pests and to highlight research priorities. A database was compiled from papers published between 1980 and 1994. Moran's (1983) formula for determining pest status was modified to provide a more objective assessment of the relative importance of the pest species. Helicoverpa armigera (Hubner) ranks as the most important lepidopteran pest in South Africa. The pest status of Eldana saccharina Walker Tortrix capensana (Walker) and Chilo partellus (Swinhoe) ranked higher than in Moran's (1983) assessment, whereas the pest status of Plutella xylostella (Linnaeus) ranked substantially lower. Following global trends, the Noctuidae were found to be the most important lepidopteran pests in South Africa, and cosmopolitan and African lepidopteran pests were of greater importance than endemic species. Borers and cutworms were more important than defoliators and miners. Articles relating to extension services exceeded research papers, and 28 % of research publications appeared in international journals. The output was greatest on citrus and cereal crops, and the Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Crops published the most articles on lepidopteran pests during the period reviewed. A substantial amount of information on the control of lepidopteran pests in South Africa has been published, whereas only a few articles on yield loss, economic loss or pest distributions have appeared. Studies of yield loss and economic loss will improve the efficiency of pest management practices and will also facilitate the calculation of true pest status, and are identified as research priorities. The descriptionption and monitoring of pest distributions are also important in anticipating and mitigating the potential negative impact of climate change on agroecosystems.

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