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CABI has contributed to new research published in the journal Biology which reveals that the yellow-spined bamboo locust (YSBL) prefers wheat and rice to maize under laboratory conditions.

The yellow-spined bamboo locust can devour all bamboo leaves in its path and is the main pest of China’s bamboo-producing regions. A larger proportion of the world’s bamboo forests and approximately 80% of the world’s bamboo species are found in east Asia, south Asia, and southeast Asia.

The study is the first report of direct damage caused by the yellow spined bamboo locust (Ceracris kiangsu Tsai (Orthoptera: Arcypteridae) to wheat in the laboratory.

The research also found that 30 °C is the ideal temperature for the survival of YSBL.

Dr Hongmei Li, leading author of the study and Senior Coordinator for Research at CABI in China, designed the protocol and supervised all the experiments relating to the research where the first author was her master’s degree student Meizhi Wang.

The scientists highlighted how the invasion of the YSBL has spread widely from Southeast Asian countries to Southwest China in recent years, leading to potential production losses. But until recently there was limited information about damage to staple crops.

Meizhi Wang said, “Understanding the adaptability of the yellow-spined bamboo locust to different hosts and temperatures is essential in facilitating early warning and detection and, as such, will help develop a management strategy for the pest.”

In the study, the survival and development of nymphs and the morphometrics of the YSBL were examined using one of the following plants: seedlings of common wheat, rice, waxy maize (Z. mays L. sinensis Kulesh), and sweet maize (Z. mays L. var. rugosa Bonaf.).

Ms Wang added, “It may be that the YSBL find sufficient acceptable food sources beyond the bamboo forests of Yunnan Province, China. It is vital to take the necessary measures to control this pest in the earlier stages before it spreads into a larger region.”

In July 2020, for instance, the pest was found to have infested the city of Pu’er in China’s southwestern Yunnan province having originated from neighbouring Laos and Vietnam. The pest also infested 13 districts in the three northern provinces of Phongsali, Luangprabang and Huaphan, in Laos.

The study found that the preference of YSBL larvae for the tested hosts is not invariable at different instars. For instance, first instar nymphs prefer maize, rice, and waxy maize to sweet maize, the mature nymphs and adults prefer wheat and rice to waxy maize and sweet maize.

Previously, studies discovered that phytophagous insects have evolved a physiological regulatory digestive mechanism through co-evolution with plants to achieve optimal adaptation to diverse host plants.

The host preference variation in different instars of YSBL nymphs may be attributed to their physiological regulatory digestive mechanism, the scientists say.

Dr Hongmei Li said, “The effect of host plants and temperature on the bionomics of the YSBL has strongly manifested itself in the life table parameters and in phenotype characteristics, especially survival rates, developmental duration, and body length.

“Indeed, the YSBL can complete full development and an entire lifecycle within the range of 25 °C to 30 °C depending on the availability of host plants.

“It is unclear whether the YSBL has different crop preferences as it develops, and it would, therefore, be of value to carry out more fundamental research to understand the causes and mechanisms of its development.”

Additional information

Main image: The yellow-spined bamboo locust (Credit: Huang Wen CC BY-NC via iNaturalist).

*The full list of contributing scientists and institutions can be found by accessing the paper on the journal’s website.

Full paper reference

Wang M, Li H, Bukero AA, Shu J, Zhuo F, Liu L, Zhang A. An Evaluation of the Crop Preference and Phenotypic Characteristics of Ceracris kiangsu Tsai (Orthoptera: Arcypteridae) under Different Temperatures. Biology. 2023; 12(11):1377.

The paper can be read open access here:

Funding acknowledgement

This research was funded by National Key R and D Program of China (2021YFE0194800), the CABI Development Fund (IVM10051), and the Alliance of International Science Organizations (Grant No. ANSO-CR-KP-2021-06).

Relevant stories

‘Ovarian development of yellow-spined bamboo locust sheds light on emergence and migratory nature of pest.’

‘Study recommends greater awareness of biopesticides to help fight locust outbreaks in China.’

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