Chilo agamemnon

Chilo agamemnon Bleszynski

Common name: The purple lined borer, the lesser sugar cane borer, rice stem borer.

Taxonomic placing: Insecta, Holometabola, Lepidoptera, Crambidae.

Geographical distribution: Middle East; Eastern Africa and Spain. CIE Map # 299, 1972.

Host plants: Maize (corn), rice and sugar cane.

Morphology: The adult moth and the forewings are yellowish, its paler hindwings grey and with brown-red spots, body length 10 mm. The fully grown larva (caterpillar) is brown-gray, with two longitudinal stripes along its body, which comes to 22 mm.

Life cycle: The small larvae gnaw on young leaves and then enter the stems wherein they bore tunnels that are filled with frass. They develop through 5–8 instars, dependent on the prevailing temperatures. Later they pupate there within silken cocoons. In winter the mature larvae bore into the lower parts of the plant or the roots wherein they hibernate till next spring. Several overlapping generations are raised during the season, the populations peaking in late summer. A female can lay 400-700 eggs, and usually lives only for a few days. At 30-35°C a life cycle is completed in 3-4 weeks.

Economic importance: The larvae tunnel in the stems of maize, rice and sugar cane and may girdle them, causing breakage of the upper plant parts. In severe infestations every plant in the field can be infested. The importance of this pest to maize, formerly a serious threat in Israel, has declined since the 1970s, due to increases in the area planted to sweet corn, which the moth rejects. In Egypt it is a major pest of sugar cane, affecting up to 15% of this crop, and is the most serious pest of rice in the Nile Delta.


Chemical control: Dusting with pesticides (organophosphates or pyrethroids) appear to be more efficient than sprays with these chemicals.

Molecular control: Rice plants transformed to include the Bacillus thuringiensis cry1Ia5 gene were highly resistant to neonate larvae, all of which died within four days after feeding on these plants.

Biological control: In Egyptian sugar cane fields the moth is controlled with the egg endoparasitoid Trichogramma evanescens Westwood (Trichogrammatidae). Various preparations based on B. thuringiensis (Bt) have also been applied against the pest.


El-Henidy, A.H., Abbas, M.S. and Imbaby, M.M. 1989. On utilization of Trichogramma evanescens West. to control the lesser sugar cane borer, Chilo agamemnon Bles. in sugar cane fields in Egypt. 2 - Proper technique and number of releases. Arab Journal of Plant Protection 7: 153-158.

El-Henidy, A.H., Abbas, M.S., Imbaby, M.M. and Ewase, M. A. 1990. Observations on the parasitism of Chilo agamemnon Bles. egg-masses by Trichogramma evanescens West. in sugar cane ratoons. Bulletin Société Entomologique d’Égypte, Economic Series 18: 1-8.

El-Naggar, M.A.H. 2007. Infestation evaluation of sugarcane (c9/54 variety) with Chilo Agamemnon Blesz. and mealybug Saccharicoccus sacchari Cockerell at four governorate in Upper Egypt. Egyptian Journal of Applied Sciences 22: 829-836.

Hafez, M., Salama, H.S. and Tolba, R.A. 1971. On the biology of the corn borer Chilo Agamemnon Bles. (Lepidoptera, Crambidae). Zeitschrift für Angewandte Entomologie 67: 256–261.

Hafez, M., Salama, H.S. and Abdel-Rahman, A. 1998. Activity of Bacillus thuringiensis isolates on the corn borers, Chilo agamemnon Bles. (Crambidae) and Ostrinia nubilalis Hbn. (Pyraustidae). Anzeiger fur Schädlingskunde Pflanzenschutz Umweltschutz 71: 110-112.

Melamed-Madjar, V. 1990. Status of Chilo Agamemnon Bles. In Israel and the probable reasons for the decrease in its populations. Insect Science and its Application. 11: 541-545.

Moghaieb, R.E.A. 2010. Transgenic rice plants expressing cry1Ia5 gene are resistant to stem borer (Chilo Agamemnon). GM Crops 1: 288-93.