The salt water pushed ashore into the rice fields of Southwest Louisiana by Hurricane Rita may weaken the surge of the South American rice leaf miner – or it may not.
LSU AgCenter entomologist Boris Castro said it’s possible the rice miner’s population could have been weakened by the high salinity, but there’s no way of knowing because the insect has only been known to be in the country the past couple of growing seasons.
“We don’t know where it over-winters,” Castro said, explaining the pest first appeared in 2004 but was not identified until 2005.
The researcher said he was surprised that the amount of damage in Louisiana rice fields increased significantly in 2005 as compared to 2004, when the pest first appeared but had yet to be identified as the cause of damage.
The insect also was found last year in North Louisiana, but it had little effect on rice fields there, Castro said, possibly because the insect seems to have a preference for more tropical environments.
“As far as control, we still don’t have a chemical,” he said.
Methyl parathion had no effect on a Cameron Parish rice field of 230 acres hit by the tiny insect last season, Castro said.
“That was the worst infestation,” he said. “It was a complete loss.”
Castro said there’s usually not much that can be done by the time the pest strikes. The LSU AgCenter plans to conduct studies on biological aspects and behavior of this tiny pest. But for now, the only recommendation available is to avoid late planting of rice.
(This article appeared in the winter 2006 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture