Crop-killing insect spotted in Louisiana

By Brandon Richards- bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC-TV) – According to a report from the LSU AgCenter, an insect known to have destroyed sugarcane and rice crops in Texas, has been spotted in Louisiana.

The insect, the Mexican rice borer, will be responsible for an estimated $220 million in damage to sugarcane crops within the next few years, according to some studies.

First discovered in 1980 in south Texas, the Mexican rice borer has gradually migrated eastward along the Gulf Coast.

Louisiana agriculture officials first spotted the insect in Vinton two years ago. Last month, they found four adult male rice borers six miles southwest of Sulphur.

Thankfully, none of the insects were located near rice or sugarcane fields.

"If  it does get into their crop, [the rice borer] can cause damage," said LSU AgCenter County Agent Jimmy Meaux.

In addition, an LSU and Texas A&M study estimated Louisiana rice farmers could lose $45 million per year if the insect ever infested fields in the Bayou State.

There are pesticides available to treat infected crops; however the treatments don't work as well for infected sugarcane plants.

The good news is the insect's numbers in Louisiana aren't impressive. Only a few have been spotted over the last several years.

The bad news is there is no way to prevent the insect from spreading across the border from Texas.

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