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Crop Protection :: Cash Crops :: Pest of Sugarcane

Insect pests of sugarcane

Crop: Sugarcane

Scientific name: Saccharum officinarum

Family: Poaceae


1. Early shoot borer: Chilo infuscatellus

Symptoms of damage

  • Dead heart in 1-3 months old crop, which can be easily pulled out
  • Rotten portion of the straw coloured dead heart emits an offensive odour        
  • Bore holes at the base just above the ground level

Identification of the pest

  • Larva - Five dark violet stripes and dark brown head
  • Adult - Pale greyish brown moth with white hind wings
Egg Mass Pupa Larva Adult
Bore holes
Dead heart


  • ETL: 15 % dead heart

Cultural: Early season planting (Dec-Jan) ;

  • Trash mulching on ridges on 3DAP
  • Intercropping with green gram, black gram, daincha effectively checks shoot borer.
  • Spray Granulosis virus at 1.5 x 1012 PIB/ha twice on 35 and 50 days after planting (DAP) or release 125 gravid females of Sturmiopsis inferens /ha on 30 and 45 DAP

Apply any one of the following insecticides:
Soil application

  • Lindane 10 G 12.5 kg
  • Carbofuran 3CG 33 kg


  • Chlorantraniliprole 18.5%SC 375 ml/ha
  • Fipronil 5%SC 1500-2000 ml/ha
  • Fipronil 0.3%GR 25-33.3 Kg/ha
  • Quinalphos 25%EC 2000 ml/ha
  • Phosalone 35 EC 1000 ml
  • NSKE 5 % 25 Kg/ha
  • Daincha intercropped sugarcane recorded the lowest
    early shoot borer incidence.

Note: The virus should be applied with teepol (0.05%) during evening hours. The granular application should
be immediately followed by irrigation. ‘Granulosis’ virus spraying on sugarcane at 750 Nos. of diseased
larvae, crushed and filtered mixed in 500 l of water has been found harmless to parasitoids and predators. A
sticker like ‘teepol’ (250 ml for 500 l) can also be added to make the solution stick on to the surface of
the crop and it is preferable to use high volume sprayer to be more effective. On cost benefit ratio
basis NSKE 5% is recommended.


2. Stem or internode borer: Chilo sacchariphagus indicus

Symptoms of damage

  • Internodes constricted and shortened with a number bore holes and frass in the nodal region
  • Affected tissues reddened
Identification of the pest
  • Larva - four violet or pink stripes and light brown head
  • Adult - Pale brown with white hind wings




Bore hole

Dead Heart

Malformed & weak internodes

  • Release egg parasitoid, Trichogramma chilonis at the rate of 2.5 cc/release/ha. Six releases fifteen
    days interval starting from fourth month onwards will be necessary.
  • During rainy weather and when ants are present, release the parasite through musquito net covered
    plastic disposable cups.
  • Detrash the crop on the 150th and 210th day after planting.

3. Top shoot borer: Scripophaga excerptalis 

    Symptoms of damage

  • Parallel rows of shot holes in the emerging leaves and
  • Red tunnels in the   midribs of leaves
  • Dead heart in grown up canes which cannot be easily pulled
  • Dead heart reddish brown in colour
  • Bunchy top due to growth of side shoots

Identification of the pest

  • Larva - Smooth, white or cream coloured with a red coloured mid dorsal line
  • Adult - White coloured moth. Female has buff coloured anal tuft in abdominal tip


Spraying any one of the following insecticides:

  • Carbofuran 3%G 33.3 kg/ha
  • Chlorantraniprole 18.5%SC 375 ml/ha
  • Phorate 10%G 30 kg/ha


  • Release Isotima javensis at 100 pairs/ha
Shot holes on leaves
Dead heart
Egg Mass Larva Adult

4.  Leafhopper: Pyrilla perpusilla

Symptoms of damage

  • Leaves become yellow
  • Covered with black sooty mould
  • Top leaves get dried up and lateral buds germinate

Identification of the pest

  • Nymph - soft, pale brown dorsally and pale orange ventrally with two characteristic anal filaments
  • Adult - Straw coloured, head pointing forward as a snout


Spraying any one the following insecticides:

  • Quinalphos 25% EC 1200 ml/ha
  • Carbofuran 3% CG 33.3kg/ha



5. Whitefly:  Aleurolobus barodensis  

Symptoms of damage

  • Yellowing of leaves turn pinkish latter
  • Gradual drying and presence of sooty mould

Identification of the pest

  • Nymph - Neonate pale yellow – latter turn shiny black
  • Adult - Pale yellow


White fly

6. Cane mealy wing whitefly: Neomaskellia bergii

Symptoms of damage

  • Black, grey or white dot like in appearance
  • Infests under surface of leaves 

Identification of the pest

  • Nymph - Brownish oval
  • Adult - Black bands on wings


  • Avoid excessive use of nitrogenous fertilizers
  • Fenitrothion 50 EC @ 2 lit or moncrotohphos 36 SL @  2 lit /ha

7. Scale insect: Melanaspis glomerata

Symptoms of damage

  • Dark encrustations on the internode

Identification of the pest

  • Greyish black or brown circular scale


  • Select scale insect free setts
  •  Bunds free from weeds
  •  Avoid repeated ratoons
  • Detrash as per schedule
  • Drain excess water
  • Avoid water stagnation
  • Presoak the setts in 0.1% malathion solution
  • Spray of the following insecticides(120/150 day after detrashing)
    • Dimethoate 30 EC @ 2ml/lit of water  
    • methyl demeton 25 EC @ 2ml/lit of water  



8. Mealy bug: Kiritshenkella sacchari , Pink mealy bug: Sacchricoccus sacchari

Symptoms of damage

  • Pinkish, oval insects  found beneath leaf sheath on the nodes
  • White mealy coating
  • Stunting of main cane and also attack roots

Identification of the Pest

  • Adult - Flattened, pinkish, oval with mealy coating

  • Nymph - Third and fourth instar nymphs covered with white wooly secretion
  • Adult - Apterous adults covered with white wooly secretion
  • Ceratovacuna lanigera - Light green colour
  • C. graminum - Light yellow in colourWinged adult is black in colour



  • Detrash as per schedule
  •  Drain excess water

Apply any one of the following insecticides when the incidence is noticed spray on the stem only:

  • Methyl parathion 50 EC 1000 ml/ha
  • Malathion 50 EC 1000 ml/ha

9. Wooly Aphid: Ceratovacuna lanigera , Ceratovacuna graminum

Symptoms of damage

  • Nymph and adults suck the sap from leaves
  • Honey dew excrete – development of sooty mould fungus
  • White chalk powder coating on the ground and leaves.

Identification of the pest

  • Nymph - Third and fourth instar nymphs covered with white wooly secretion
  • Adult - Apterous adults covered with white wooly secretion
  • Ceratovacuna lanigera - Light green colour
  • C. graminum - Light yellow in colourWinged adult is black in colour
Egg Larva Pupa


  • Field release of biocontrol agents like Dipha aphidivora, Micromus and coccinellids
  • Avoiding transportation of aphid infested leaves from one location to another.
  • Avoiding use of infested cane for seed purpose.
  • Ensuring that the insecticides treated leaves are not used as fodder.
  • Spray any one of the following insecticides once or twice in affected patches: 
    • acephate 75SP @ 2gm/lit,
    • chlorpyrifos 25EC @ 2ml/lit,
    • monocrotophos 36WSC @ 2ml/lit.

10. Aphid: Melanaphis sacchari, M.indosacchari

Symptoms of damage
  • Yellowing of leaves, colonies of aphids in central leaf whorl presence of ants

Identification of the pest

  • Nymph - Yelow
  • Adult - Purple


  • Detrash as per schedule
  • Drain excess water

11. Termite: Odontotermes obesus  

Symptoms of damage

  • Poor germination of  setts ( After  Planting)
  • Characteristic  semi- circular  feeding  marks on the leaves in the standing crop
  • Entire shoot dries up and can be pulled out easily
  • Setts hollow  inside  and may be filled with soil
  • Cane collapses if disturbed
  • Rind filled with mud

Identification of the pest

  • Cream coloured, tiny insects resembling ants with dark coloured head


  • Flood irrigate the furrows to avoid termite attack in the furrows at the time of planting

Sett treatment:

  • Dip the setts in imidacloprid 70 WS 0.1% or Chlorpyriphos 20 EC 0.04 % for 5 min.
  • Soil application:
  • Apply lindane 1.3 D 125 kg/ha


  • Chlorantraniliprole 18.5%SC 500-625 ml/ha
  • Imidacloprid 17.8% SL 350 ml/ha
  • Chlorpyriphos 20%EC 750 ml/ha
12. Root grub: Holotrichia consanguinea: H. serrata, Leucopholis lepidophora
Symptoms of damage
  • Yellowing and wilting of leaves
  • Drying of crown
  • Affected canes come off easily
Identification of the pest

i) Holotrichia consanguineaH. serrata,

  • Egg - White, almost round.
  • Larva - Young grubs are translucent, whitish yellow  in colour,  fleshy ‘C’ - shaped
  • Adults - Dark brown beetle
ii) Leucopholis lepidophora
  • Larvae- creamy white with swollen dark last abdominal segment
  • Adults – Reddish brown beetle with dark tinge


  • Crop rotation,
  • Deep ploughing during summer,
  • Avoid ratoons in infested fields,
  • Provide adequate irrigation, since under inadequate soil moisture conditions, the pest appears in the root
Updated on June, 2014

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