Termites Management in Sugarcane: Symptoms, Treatment, Chemical, Biological, Natural, and Organic Control

Termites are a significant concern for sugarcane fields all over the world. They do a lot of damage to the roots and stalks of the plant. The Sugarcane Termite (Odontotermes lokanandu) is a particularly destructive pest that can cause extensive economic losses for sugarcane growers. Sugarcane Termites are small insects in the family Termitidae and the order Isoptera. They eat the cellulose in plants, which causes structural damage to sugarcane plants.

Termites Management in Sugarcane

You can find these termites in many places where sugarcane is grown, such as Asia, Africa, and Australia. Growers must use several methods, such as cultural, biological, and chemical controls, to eliminate Sugarcane Termites. This article will discuss symptoms, causes, impacts, and chemical, cultural, and biological control methods.

Termites Management in Sugarcane

Factors Favoring Growth/ Causes of Termites Spread in the Field

  • Termites reside in large colonies and construct elaborate nests underground or on moist, decaying tree stumps.
  • Protected by underground passages, they feed away from their nest on plant roots and other materials in fields.
  • Termites can harm plants with no other food source, so having much organic matter in the soil is essential.
  • Numerous winged males and females with well-developed eyes are produced for swarming by reproductive termites.
  • Swarming typically occurs at sunset following heavy rainfall. The winged termites discard their wings, mate, and burrow into soil or wood crevices to establish a new colony.
  • Warm temperatures, moist soil, and wood or other cellulose-containing materials promote termite growth and spread.

Life Cycle of Termites

There are several stages in the termite life cycle, including embryos, nymphs, and adults. Termite eggs are typically dull and kidney-shaped and hatch between 30 and 90 days after being laid. Once hatched, nymphs undertake eight to nine molts over six to twelve months. At maturity, termites transform into small, creamy insects resembling ants with dark-colored heads.

The mature termites are responsible for reproduction and colony maintenance. They have a caste system in which workers, soldiers, and reproductives are assigned specific duties within the colony. The queen termite is the largest member of the colony because she deposits eggs and produces offspring.

Host range: Numerous plant species, including crops, trees, and ornamental plants, can be attacked by termites. The specific host range can differ depending on the termite species and location. Termites attack numerous plant species, including sugarcane, maize, sorghum, cotton, and vegetables. 

Identification of Termites in Sugarcane in the Field

  • To identify termites in sugarcane fields, look for wilting in the upper portions of plants and live insects or tunnels in the roots and lower stems.
  • Plants may be hollowed out and filled with soil debris, and termites may be discovered beneath plants lodged in the ground and covered with soil.
  • Termites may migrate deeper into the soil during the day, so early morning or late evening examinations are advised.

Damage Symptoms of Termites in Sugarcane

  • Termites can attack sugarcane plants at any stage of development, inflicting severe damage.
  • Termite damage to the plant’s roots typically manifests as wilting of the plant’s upper sections.
  • To confirm the presence of termites, affected plants must be removed and inspected for the presence of living insects or tunnels.
  • Termite damage may completely hollow out plant roots and stems, which can be filled with soil debris.
  • Under the soil that covers the plants, termites may be discovered if the plants are sheltered from powerful winds.
  • When termites are more likely to be near the surface, early morning or late evening is the optimal time to examine plants.