Species diversity of lepidopteran stem borer parasitoids in cultivated and natural habitats in Kenya
Kairu, E. W.
Mailafiya, D. M.
Le Ru, B. P.
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Field surveys were conducted during 2005 to 2007 to assess the species diversity of stem borer parasitoids in cultivated and natural habitats in four agroecological zones in Kenya. In total, 33 parasitoid species were recovered, of which 18 parasitized six stem borer species feeding on cereal crops, while 27 parasitized 21 stem borer species feeding on 19 wild host plant species. The most common parasitoids in cultivated habitats were Cotesia flavipes Cameron, Cotesia sesamiae (Cameron), Pediobius furvus Gahan and the tachinid Siphona sp., whereas in natural habitats, Siphona sp. was the most common. The majority of parasitoids were stenophagous species; only five species –Cotesia sp., Enicospilus ruscus Gauld and Mitchell, Pristomerus nr. bullis, Sturmiopsis parasitica (Curran) and Syzeuctus ruberrimus Benoit – were monophagous. In both cultivated and natural habitats, parasitoid species diversity was highest on the most dominant stem borers Busseola spp. and Chilo spp. On cereal crops, parasitoid diversity was highest on maize and among wild host plants, it was highest on Setaria spp. The ingress-and-sting attack method was the most common strategy used by parasitoids in both habitats. In all agroecological zones, parasitoid species diversity was significantly higher in natural than in cultivated habitats. Furthermore, the majority of parasitoid species were common to both cultivated and natural habitats. It was concluded that natural habitats surrounding cereal crops serve as refugia for sustaining the diversity of stem borer parasitoids from adjacent cereal fields.