Injury from stem-boring caterpillars has been observed on the perennial grass Miscanthus × giganteus Greef and Deuter ex Hodkinson and Renvoize in both its native and introduced ranges. Because some species causing stem injury in the United States have not been identified, potential biomass reductions to M. × giganteus were measured using southwestern corn borer, Diatraea grandiosella Dyar (Crambidae), an insect pest of several related crops within the Andropogoneae. Results indicate D. grandiosella is capable of survival on whorl and stem tissue from hatch to 21 d in the laboratory, and field infestations with third instars support adult development, as exuviae were found during dissection of injured tillers. Relative to uninfested controls, M. × giganteus tillers with stem injury yielded 12–30% less dry mass in four infestations over 2009–2010. As in some D. grandiosella hosts, data indicate decreased susceptibility to stem-boring as tillers increase in size or age. Regressions of residuals (observed — predicted mass) for injured M. × giganteus tillers onto the cumulative length of tunnels per tiller also showed significant negative slopes (i.e., decreasing tiller mass with increasing tunnel length). Although D. grandiosella survival appeared low in both laboratory and field trials, results indicate that M. × giganteus productivity could become limited by other stem-boring caterpillars known to attack Andropogoneae, including the following: Elasmopalpus lignosellus (Zeller) (Pyralidae), Diatraea saccharalis (F.) (Pyralidae), and Eoreuma loftini (Dyar) (Crambidae). For perennial grasses grown exclusively for biomass, certain management strategies for stem borers or other pests may be uneconomical or impractical, suggesting long-term investment in breeding for host plant resistance may be needed.
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Vol. 41 • No. 4