Atherigona soccata, the Sorghum Shoot fly, attacks the heads of sorghum stalks before they flower. It is native to most of the globe but especially harmful in sorghum-growing regions. The pest is mostly found in southern states and can cause substantial grain production losses.
Adult Sorghum Shoot flies are orange-brown with wingspans of 6-14 mm. It lays eggs in leaves, stems, and Flowers and feeds on sorghum stalk sap. Sorghum Shoot fly larvae eat the foliage and harm crops. The pest can stunt young plants, lower yields, or even destroy the crop if left unchecked. Chemical insecticides, biological control agents, and crop rotation manage insects.
Shoot Fly Management in Sorghum
Life Cycle of Sorghum Shoot Fly
- Sorghum shoot flies start their life cycle when the adult female rises from the soil and lays eggs in the plant’s whorl. After the eggs, the hatch and the larvae eat plant tissues.
- The larvae feed on plant tissues, sap, and nutrients for two to three weeks before maturing, stunting growth and output. They pupate in the dirt.
- After a few weeks, the adult emerges from the dirt, restarting the cycle. Adult shoot flies are tiny black flies with yellowish-orange heads and legs.
- Plant juice and pollen fuel the adults’ daytime activity. Adults are active at night, while larvae are busy during the day. The lifecycle is 17-21 days.
Occurrence of Sorghum Shoot Fly
- Location of Sorghum Shoot fly: The pest mainly occurs in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka in India and is observed worldwide.
- Host Range: The pest can cause an infestation in maize, ragi, bajra, rice, wheat, and some grasses.
Factors Favoring Population Increase in Sorghum Shoot Fly in Field
- Weather – Extreme heat and humidity help this bug grow and reproduce. Shoot flies develop rapidly and lay their eggs in crops in high temperatures and humidity.
- Plant Health – Healthy plants fight this pest, providing more nutrition for shoot fly larvae that attract pests.
- Poor Soil Fertility—Nutrient shortage in the crop makes it more susceptible to infestation.
- Rotating the crop prevents the pest from establishing itself because it needs its host crop to live.
- Natural Enemies — Predators and parasites control pest populations, lowering damage.
- Early planting gives the pest time to grow and lay eggs before the crop matures, increasing its chances of survival.
Identification of Sorghum Shoot Fly in Sorghum Field
- Egg: Sorghum leaves lay 0.2-0.3mm eggs separately on the underside. They are cylindrical, white, and pointy.
- Larva: Sorghum larvae eat leaves and stalks, reducing crop output. Yellowish-green with black dots, they are 10mm long. They have four legs and a head. Four larvae instars.
- Pupa: Since larvae no longer feed, sorghum trees are less damaged. The pupae are 5mm white and found near the sorghum stalks.
- Adult: Adults are 8mm and dark with red spots on the abdomen. Adults lay eggs on sorghum leaves and stem and eat on flower nectar.