In addition to sugarcane, the Sugarcane Aphid is also a pest of energycane. Adults are very small, soft-bodied insects that can be winged or wingless. Wingless adults are oblong and light green to pale yellow. Wingless individuals can have black markings on their legs and antennae. Winged adults are dark colored. Nymphs resemble wingless adults but are smaller and can be whitish when very young. Adults and nymphs have cornicles (tube like structures on the dorsal side of the abdomen). Aphids have piercing-sucking mouthparts that allows for them to feed on the sap in the xylem and phloem of plants, removing nutrients. Damage
Direct feeding can cause injury. In addition to this direct injury, black sooty mold grows on honeydew produced by aphids. This sooty mold reduces plant vigor by hindering photosynthesis. The sugarcane aphid is also the primary vector of sugarcane yellow leaf virus (SCYL), which is a causal agent of yellow leaf disease. Management
Early planting, high plant density, and destruction of overwintering hosts are cultural practices which may reduce aphid populations (Singh et al. 2004). Additionally, heavy rains can help wash aphids away. Resistant cultivars also have potential to reduce sugarcane aphid populations (Akbar et al. 2013). However, insecticide applications are the primary option to reduce rapidly heavy infestations.
There are several biological controls available worldwide and they are able to help with management but not eradication. Insecticide Options
Contact your local LSU AgCenter agent for insecticides to use. Selection of the appropriate insecticide is critical as some products can reduce populations of natural enemies and flare aphid infestations. Sources:
- Melanaphis sacchari, Sugarcane Aphid. 2011. Institute for the Study of Invasive Species.
- Melanaphis sacchari (Zehntner). 2013. National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insecs.
- Akbar, W., A.T. Showler, T.E. Reagan, J.A. Davis and J.M. Beuzelin. 2013. Feeding by sugarcane aphid, Melanaphis sacchari, on sugarcane cultivars with differential susceptibility and potential mechanisms of resistance. Entomologia Experimentalis at Applicata 150: 32-44.
- Singh, B.U., P.G. Padmaja, and N. Seethrama. 2004. Biology and management of the sugarcane aphid, Melanaphis sacchari (Zehtnner) (Homoptera: Aphididae) in sorghum: a review. Crop. Prot. 23: 739-755.
- Image: http://www.tsusinvasives.org/database/sugar-aphid.html