Sogatella furcifera

Scientific Name Sogatella furcifera (Horváth 1899)
Common Names English: White-backed planthopper; German: Weißrückige Reiszikade; Spanish: Cigarrita de dorso blanco del arroz; French: Cicadelle à dos blanc
Description This species varies considerably in several characteristics, even among individuals from the same population. Young nymphs are creamy-white but as they mature, they develop distinct dark-gray and black markings on their abdomens. The adults are yellowish-brown to black, with a typical white spot on the middle of the thorax. They are 2.5 -3 mm (0.09-0.12 inch) long and 1.2 - 1.3 mm (0.049-0.05 inch) broad. While the males are all macropterous, females can occur in both macropterous and brachypterous forms.

Biology

Damage

The nymphs and adults of S. furcifera are phloem feeders. They prefer young plants, but all growth stages can be attacked. Plant injury results mainly from the loss of water and nutrients with the extracted sap. The amount lost can be considerable due to the often high population densities of planthoppers. The damage is increased by the numerous oviposition punctures in leaves, and the honeydew that leads to the growth of sooty molds.

Infested plants will show retarded development and stunting, and they develop fewer tillers and panicles. Both the 1000-grain weight and the number of grains per panicle are reduced, and the proportion of grains remaining unfilled increases, especially when infestation is heavy at the time of panicle initiation. Attacks at a later stage may lead to delayed ripening. Under favorable conditions, very high numbers of this insect may occur and cause yellowing and wilting of leaves („hopperburn“), and eventually the death of plants. Young seedlings are often completely destroyed.

Lifecycle

After a pre-oviposition period of 3-8 days, the female lays 100-350 eggs into stems or along the midribs of leaves. The nymphs hatch 5-10 days after oviposition and immediately start feeding, preferably at the base of the plant. During the next 12-18 days, they pass through five stages, each resembling the adult a bit more than the previous one („incomplete metamorphosis“). They are very active and instantly jump away (hence the name) when disturbed. The adult has a lifespan of 4-20 days.

S. furcifera occurs in two morphs, brachypterous (short-winged) and macropterous (long-winged). When the nymphal density passes a certain threshold or the host plant becomes less suitable as a food source, macropterous adults appear that are able to migrate.

S. furcifera cannot feed or reproduce below 22°C (71.6°F) and is therefore unable to overwinter in temperate regions. In many countries, it immigrates each spring and summer from the South, sometimes over hundreds of kilometres, and may have up to 5 generations per season, depending on the climatic conditions. In subtropical and tropical areas, population development is only limited by the number of rice crops, and migration continues throughout the year.

Occurrence

Agricultural Importance

The white-backed planthopper occurs throughout the rice-growing countries of Asia and Oceania, including Australia. Findings reported from Africa, America and Europe have proved to be of other species. S. furcifera is a serious pest of rice in Asia, where it may cause severe damage due to its sometimes very high abundance and propensity to sudden outbreaks.

Control

Integrated Crop Management

Excessive use of nitrogen fertilizer promotes planthopper development, so doses should be split over several applications. Sogatella furcifera resurgence after indiscriminate pesticide use is a common problem, so wherever possible, use selective treatments that spare beneficials.
Draining the field temporarily for a few days has been reported to check severe outbreaks.

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