Exotic invasive insect herbivores have the potential to interfere with existing herbivore-natural enemy interactions in new environments. Fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda J.E. Smith (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), is a new invasive pest in maize fields in Africa. Understanding the acceptability and suitability of FAW to existing maize stemborer-parasitoid interactions is the first step in elucidating the impact that this exotic insect pest can have on the existing natural enemies used in biological control of maize stemborers in Kenya. The most commonly used larval parasitoids for biological control programs against maize stemborer communities in East Africa are Cotesia flavipes Cameron (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) and two populations of the native Cotesia sesamiae (Cs-Inland and Cs-Coast) Cameron (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). All these parasitoid species attacked FAW larvae but none yielded offspring, although they induced high non-reproductive host mortality when compared to natural mortality. Furthermore, the parasitoids that inserted their ovipositor into FAW larvae exhibited no significant preference between FAW larvae and their respective stemborer hosts under dual-choice bioassays. In olfactometer bioassays, the parasitoids were more attracted to plants infested by FAW than uninfested plants and even showed a marked preference for the odours of plants infested by FAW over those of plants infested by their natural host counterparts. This study illustrates that exotic pests, such as FAW, can impact existing stemborer-parasitoid interactions associated with maize, even if they cannot be used as hosts by parasitoids associated with these stemborers. Although additional studies are needed, FAW might therefore have a negative impact on stemborer biological control existing before its invasion.
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The authors wish to thank the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for funding the PhD fellowship under the Grant Number 91636630, and the University of Nairobi and ICIPE Capacity Building Program (ARPPIS) for hosting the PhD student. This research was funded by the ‘Institut de Recherche pour le Développement’ (IRD)-France through the IRD Collaborative Research project (Grant Number B4405B) and the integrated pest management strategy to counter the threat of invasive fall armyworm to food security in eastern Africa (FAW-IPM) (Grant No. DCI-FOOD/2017/) financed through the European Union. We also acknowledge the financial support for this research by the following organizations and agencies: the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the Kenyan Government. Thanks are also due to the stemborer rearing unit at the ARCU-ICIPE, especially to Josphat Akhobe and John Buluma, for rearing and supplying insect larvae and artificial diets. Thanks also to Fritz Schulthess for his critical review of the manuscript and to Malcolm Eden for his English correction.
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
This research complied with all local and national standards for ethical conduct in research. This research did not involve vertebrates or humans, and thus, no IRB approvals were needed.
The original version of this article has been revised: The fifth author’s name has been corrected.
Handling Editor: Stefano Colazza
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Sokame, B.M., Obonyo, J., Sammy, E.M. et al. Impact of the exotic fall armyworm on larval parasitoids associated with the lepidopteran maize stemborers in Kenya. BioControl 66, 193–204 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10526-020-10059-2
- Busseola fusca
- Chilo partellus
- Sesamia calamistis
- Sesamia nonagrioides
- Biological control
- Cotesia flavipes
- Cotesia sesamiae
- Cotesia typhae
- Non-reproductive host mortality