Plant injury symptoms-
upon the host plant, many symptoms can appear. The tips of leaves turn
brown and or plants falling out of pots due to the fact there is no root
system left to support the plant. Bore-holes in trunks with frass
deposits are yet another key sign that this species is present.
Many palm species , bromeliad, dracaena sp., strelitzia sp.,
Education is the key. Know the host plants and learn
the symptoms, so that scouting will recognize the problem while it is
easily controlled and before the crop is unsaleable. Be sure to inspect
incoming cane to keep from infesting the nursery. To reduce chance of
plants getting banana moth, keep them stress free with proper
fertilization, irrigation, and lighting. Once a crop is found to be
infested with banana moth an assessment must be done to decide if it is
economically viable to treat the crop. Crops like cane are difficult to
treat primarily because the larvae are protected inside the cane and it is
hard for sprays to reach them. On the other hand crops infected with the
larvae in the soil or roots can easily be treated.
For a soil treatment either beneficial nematodes or
chemical controls can be used. Many growers have found many advantages in
using beneficial nematodes. For one thing, this means that there is no
worker re-entry time. This method will also provide residual control for
several weeks. The nematodes can be applied many different ways;
chemigation, blow spraying, drenching, and even backpack spraying.
Beneficial nematodes enjoy an additional advantage over traditional
chemicals in that banana moth larvae cannot build resistance to nematodes.
The nematodes are attracted to the larvae in the soil,acting as little
heat seeking missiles that infect the larvae and then kill them. Growers
have found as a side benefit that their fungus gnat population is greatly
reduced as well. Studies done by J.E. Pena, R Duncan and V. Torres of the
Tropical Research and Education Center, University of Florida, IFAS in
Homestead have shown 100% mortality of banana moth larvae in trials. Keep
in mind that nematodes treat for larvae, not the adults. Nematodes are
readily available to growers. With one phone call certain suppliers can
have them to you the next day, ready for application.
Chemical control is another alternative. In the
trials done by Dr. Pena and his associates, several chemicals were tested.
Carbaryl offered control of larvae as a drench, but only if it comes in
direct contact with the caterpillar. Chlorpyriphos gave the same result,
while Dipel only offered marginal control. Other tested materials are not
labeled for this use anymore. As with any chemicals being applied be sure
it is labeled for your application site.
What controls banana moth best is a combination
program. This means applying beneficial nematodes to the soil for larva
control in conjunction with spraying an adulticide. Simple practices like
closing nursery doors to exclude the adult moths,and removing severely
infested plants from the property will help. If plants are thrown in pile
or in a dumpster at the nursery, adult moths can still emerge. Be sure to
scout!! Do not let a population get out of hand; control early or do a
preventive program if the crop has a history of susceptibility to banana
Article on Banana moth