Scientific name: Atherigona soccata Rondani
Common name: Sorghum Shoot Fly
Main hosts: Sorghum
Alternative hosts: Maize, Finger millet, Bullrush millet, Rice, Wheat, Several species of grasses
IMPORTANCE IN ETHIOPIA:
Major pest of: Sorghum
DISTRIBUTION IN ETHIOPIA:
Recorded between 800 and 2300 meter above sea level, with higher infestations at the lower altitudes.
The larva (maggot) is the damaging stage. The larvae feed on the growing point of the shoot of the seedling. The result is a typical “dead heart”. Usually the attack results in tillering. When the outbreak is severe also tillers may be attacked.
INSECT BIOLOGY & RECOGNITION:
Egg: Eggs are laid on the underside of the leaves of 7 8 days old seedlings, or on young tillers. One to three eggs are laid per leaf. The white eggs have an elongate shape, and measure 0.8 x 0.2 mm. They hatch after 2 3 days.
Larva: The young larvae crawl down inside the sheath. Then they bore into the base of the young shoot, killing the growing point and the youngest leaf. This leaf turns brown and withers (dead heart). The full grown (third instar) larvae is 8 10 mm long and has a white or yellowish colour. The larval period takes 7 12 days.
Pupa: Pupation usually takes place in the base of the dead shoot, but sometimes in the soil. The pupal period takes about 7 days.
Adult: The adult fly is about 4 mm long. It looks like a small house fly. Head and thorax of the female are pale grey. The abdomen is yellowish with paired brown patches. The male is more blackish.
This pest is found throughout the year when hosts are available at the right stage. Highest population levels are observed in August and September.
Use resistant varieties when available.
Observe a closed season.