Pacific Pests, Pathogens and Weeds - Online edition

Pacific Pests, Pathogens, Weeds & Pesticides

Rice white borer (408)

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  • Restricted. South and Southeast Asia, Oceania. In Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea.
  • Minor pest. Mostly rice, but also sedges. Damage worse if infestation after panicle initiation and flowering.
  • Larvae bore into rolled leaves, and then through internodes to the growing point, killing it; stems pull out easily (‘deadhearts’). Panicles fail to emerge, or emerge with unfilled grain (‘whiteheads’).
  • Eggs on underside of leaf; brownish-yellow larvae, becoming whiter, with reddish line along back. Adults white (males with four dark spots on each forewing). Strong flyers. Nocturnal.
  • Natural enemies: many egg and larval parasitoids and predators.
  • Cultural control: handpick in nursery; plough land well (burying larvae/pupae of previous crop); plant at higher density than normal; rotate, e.g., legumes; synchronise plantings with neighbours; submerge eggs by raising water occasionally; weed; apply split applications N; harvest at ground level to remove larvae; plough in stubble, unharvested plants and weeds; use resistant (short, high tillering, early maturing) varieties.
  • Chemical control: unlikely to be needed. Use abamectin. Avoid broad-spectrum insecticides to preserve natural enemies.
Common Name

White rice borer; also known as the paddy stem borer.

Scientific Name

Scirpophaga nivella; however, there are other Scirpophaga species and there has been confusion between them: e.g., Scirpophaga excerptalis is a pest of sugarcane, Scirpophoga incertulas, yellow stem borer, occurs on rice as does Scirpophaga innotata, white rice stem borer. Some authors consider Scirpophaga nivella to be the sugarcane top borer, and a miner pest of rice. Additionally, in the introduction to Scirpophaga nivella, PaDIL states: "This species is the same moth as the Australian species, Scirpophaga chrysorrhoa..." These moths belong in the Crambidae.

AUTHOR Grahame Jackson
Information (and Photo 1) Rice Knowledge Bank. IRRI. (; and CABI (2019) Scirpophaga nivella (white rice borer) Crop Protection Compendium. (; and Khan ZR et al. (1991) World bibliography of rice stem borers 1794-1990. IRRI/ICIPE. (; and White rice borer (and Photos 2-4) Anderson S, Tran-Nguyen L (2012) White Rice Borer (Scirpophaga nivella). (Source: N. Sallam DAFF Biosecurity.) PaDIL - (; and from Pathak MD, Khan ZR (1994) Insect Pests of Rice. IRRI/ICIPE. ( Photo 5 CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics. ( Photo 6 Anderson S, Tran-Nguyen L (2012) Gold-fringed Rice Borer (Chilo auricilius). PaDIL - (

Produced with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research under project HORT/2016/185: Responding to emerging pest and disease threats to horticulture in the Pacific islands, implemented by the University of Queensland and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

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