A new pest has migrated into the western Louisiana, according to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

The Mexican rice borer (Eoreuma loftini) is a pest of rice, sugarcane and other similar grass crops. It is established in Texas and is a severe pest of sugarcane and rice.

The behavioral and developmental characteristics of the MRB help this insect protect itself from pesticides, which make it difficult to control in sugarcane.

LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain said his agency, with technical assistance from the LSU AgCenter and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, has been monitoring for the insect since 1999 after the insect became established in east Texas.

“It was expected that the Mexican rice borer would expand its range,” Strain said. “We have had insect traps deployed at selected sugarcane and rice fields and processing facilities for some time. The goal was to detect its arrival and it appears we have accomplished that much. Now we will have to deal with managing the pest.”

“Because the insect larva bores into the plant so quickly and is then protected from chemicals, parasites and predators, eventually many traditional insect control approaches, especially with insecticides, are not feasible in sugarcane,” said LSU AgCenter entomologist Gene Reagan.

Reagan said estimates of annual yield losses from the pest could approach $45 million in rice and $200 million in sugarcane in Louisiana.