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Sugar Cane Directory


Agriculture Extension


Sugarcane Borer


Sugarcane Borer (Diatraea saccharalis)

The sugarcane borer, Diatraea saccharalis, is one of the most important of the above-ground pests of sugarcane in Florida. Although this insect's principal host is sugarcane, other grasses including rice and corn have been reported as alternative hosts.

It causes damage by tunneling within the stalk, which reduces stalk weight and sucrose yield. Also, the borer's tunneling into the stalk allows secondary invaders like fungal, bacterial, and viral disease organisms to enter. One investigation showed that plants with bored internodes produce 45% less sugar than undamaged ones. Additionally, the weakened stalks are more subject to breaking and lodging.


The life cycle of the sugarcane borer includes four main stages of development - the egg, larval, pupal and adult stages. The larvae molt 5 to 7 times depending upon climatic conditions during their of growth. The adult is nocturnal a straw-colored moth that is about one inch across its spread wings.The forewings are marked with black dots in a V-shaped design.

Females lay approximately 200 to 300 creamy white eggs in clusters of 25 to 30 on on the undersides of a leaves in the upper half of the sugarcane plant canopy. Yellowish-white, brown-spotted caterpillars (larva) are the most familiar stage and cause the damage to sugarcane.

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Adult Damage
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Larva Egg mass


An integrated pest management (IPM) program consisting of several well-balanced components will provide effective borer control and increase profits without harming the environment.

The most important part of an IPM program for sugarcane borers is regular scouting. Suggested control options include biological agents, planting varieties that exhibit resistance to infestation and damage, planting borer-free seed pieces and insecticides

Summarized from EDIS document 'SC007 Sugarcane Borer in Florida' for more information please refer to the full length document at


Contact Us


Matthew VanWeelden
Extension Agent
Sugarcane, Rice, Sod
2976 State Road 15
Belle Glade, FL 33430