The entomology arm of the Department of Crop Protection largely deals with insect pests for sugarcane and the development of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system for the sugarcane insect pests.

Major Insect Pests of Sugarcane

Cane Weevil Borer (Rhabdoscelus obscurus)

Stage causing damage:
The larvae stage of the insect cause damage.

Significant damage:
The CWB larva feeds on the inside of the sugarcane stalk that contains juice from which sugar is extracted. Typically the CWB larva feeds from 10cm at the base of the sugarcane stalk up to 60cm towards the top of the stalk.

Other damage:
In young sugarcane crops, eaten leaf sheath has also been observed.

Termite (Coptotermes gestroi)

Stage causing damage:
Usually the worker termites.

Significant damage:
Worker termites’ tunnels through sugarcane stalks, either planted setts or growing sugarcane plant in the field. It feeds on the soft cellulose fibrous center and collects it for the rest of the colony. In return, the remaining somewhat hollow inside of the cane stalks is filled with moist soil. 

Other damage:
Damage to cane is mostly on cane stalks and no other part of the cane. These includes stalks that are buried in the soil as seed during planting as well as stalk of standing actively growing cane. 

Armyworm (Leucania stenographa)

Stage causing damage:
The larvae stage of the insect cause damage.

Significant damage:
The armyworm larva feeds on young leaves of sugarcane leaving significant damages to the crop by reducing leaf surface area for normal process of photosynthesis. Attack is mostly observed in young plant or ratoon cane that has been subjected to heavy rain or flooding.

Other damage:
Damage to older age sugarcane leaves have also been observed

Damages caused by Major Insect Pests

Damages by Cane Weevil Borer

Cane weevil borer larvae feeds from the bottom part of the cane stalk where its most sweetest, making a tunnel as it travels up the stalk about 10 - 30cm. As it feeds, it weaves the chewed up fibrous material in the cane behind it. Such damage renders the cane to secondary insect attack or disease infestation.

Damages by Termites

Termites feeds on both seedcane material as well as full grown standing cane. It makes several food cannel chewing away at the rind of the cane and filling the hollow channel with soil as it moves through the cane stalks. More information on termites in Fiji can be viewed on this video and downloaded from this fact sheet.

Damages by Armyworm

Armyworm attack are usually attributed to natural events such as after a flood or periods of heavy rain. The larval stage of Leucania stenographa is responsible for chewing on young sugarcane leaves especially in young crop but there have been reported damages on matured cane leaves.

Management of Cane Weevil Borer

Pheromone Trap

Container filled with soapy water and cover with gauze wires, from which pheromone lures are suspended in order to attract the insect. Once it reaches the lure, the insects falls into the soapy water, drowns and perishes.

Split Bait Trap

5-6 Split canes around 20-25cm in length are wrapped in black polythene, open at both ends and kept at the headland.

Management of Asian Subterranean Termites & Armyworm

Ground Traps (Termites)

Infested farms are placed with coned shaped baits. The trap is loaded with untreated timber or sugarcane stalks. Once termites are found in the trap during routine inspections, then the inside of the trap is sprayed with Termidor by BAF. 

Legislation (Termites)

Movement of sugarcane planting material within and outside the infested regions/sectors are strictly monitored and inspected by BAF and SRIF. 

Spraying (Armyworm)

Usually the presence of armyworms is short-lived and does not usually requires control unless the field is heavily infested, in which case the use of malathion sprayed over the field should provide sufficient control of the pest.


The pathology arm of the Department of Crop Protection largely deals with diseases affecting sugarcane, the screening of new sugarcane varieties for resistance against major diseases and the coordination of the Disease Control Unit (DCU) to inspect and eradicate disease affected plants from farmer's fields. The DCU monitors farms all over Fiji on a regular basis to ensure the safeguarding of the sugar industry against major pests and diseases.

Major Disease, Cause and Management for Sugarcane

Fiji Leaf Gall (FLG)

Fiji leaf gall disease was identified in Fiji in 1886 on Saccharum species including sugar cane and Saccharum edule (duruka). Fiji Leaf Gall Disease is caused by reovirus and transmitted by the leafhopper Perkinsiella vitiensis and the main diagnostic symptom is the presence of galls on the undersurface of the leaf blade and stunted plant growth. 

FLG has been found mainly on the variety, Mana as this is the major variety planted and is intermediately susceptible to FLG. The symptoms are more pronounced in the ratoon crops than in plant-cane crops. 

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Damages caused by FLG

FLGD causes damage to sugarcane leaves, where the virus gets concentrated in the phloem cells and forms galls under the leaf surface. Furthermore, it affects the photosynthesis process of the pants which affects plant growth. This disease causes:
• Severe stunting of the plants
• Raised whitish-yellow swelling (galls) under the surface of the leaf blade and midrib.
• Disease stools have a darker green color
• Cane tops show ‘bitten off’ symptom

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Causing agent for FLG

Causing agent Fiji leaf gall disease is caused by reovirus, Fiji disease virus (FDV). Transmitted by the plant leafhopper Perkinsiella vitiensis and by infected seed material from an infected field to a new planting crop.

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Management of FLG

FLG can be managed with an integrated approach:
→ Remove the infected plants by roguing before the insect vector becomes abundant in the field.
→ Use clean and healthy seed cane for planting
→ Planting resistant varieties such as Naidiri, LF91-1925, Ragnar, Qamea and Kaba.

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At present, the two known threat pest and disease for the Fiji Sugar Industry remains as Fall Armyworm and Smut respectively. The department of Crop Protection is always on alert and ready to implement proactive measures to any source of information regarding exotic pests and diseases in Fiji. Collaboration with other stakeholders such as Ministry of Agriculture 


Surveillance & Monitoring of Fall Armyworm (Trap placements - Google Earth Maps)

Fall Armyworm

Fall army worm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda, is an insect pest from the Order Lepidoptera. It was first sited in Africa in 2016 and has spread to other continents recently attacking North of Australia. FAW is an aggressive feeder. The average maize loss reported by farmers in Ghana was 26.6% and in Zambia 35%, extrapolating these losses nationally gives an estimate of US$177m loss in value of the annual maize crop in Ghana and US$159m in Zambia (Rwomushana, 2018).

Fall armyworm has a preference of maize, however, it is reported to feed on sugarcane. It is possible that under high fall armyworm pressure, sugarcane can be defoliated to some extent, moreover, maize and sugarcane intercropping in Fiji stands at a high risk of transmission, but at this point it is unknown to what extent this may happen in Australia. (Queensland Government).

SRIF has successfully established proactive measures where the baits have been placed to track the entry of this pest. The institute is working in partnership with ACIAR to initiate effective means of encountering FAW.


Fiji and PNG are the only two sugar producing countries that are known not to have sugarcane smut. This is a very serious disease and production loses can be anything between 30 – 100%. The disease is known to have spread around the globe around 1970s and 1980s. In the early years of spread, Australia a major sugar producer, was also free from smut disease. However in the last ten years the disease has been prevalent initially in Western Australia and in more recent years in Queensland.

The fungus, Ustilago scitaminea infects buds of sugarcane on stalks or germinating buds on the setts in the field. The fungus seems to grow at the point of most active growth of plant. The fungus can survive in cane till the plant is alive.


Seed cane is defined as any sugarcane plant material which is intended for use in the propagation of sugarcane. Planting good quality seed cane is crucial for profitable sugarcane production. The seed cane certification is a third management strategy that SRIF is following to bring Fiji disease under control and also ensure that the growers are adapting approved and quality seed cane. This program was restarted in 2019 by SRIF, where the disease control unit inspects the commercial farm for a grower to plant, as a clean major disease-free seed cane. 

Achievement of the Seedcane Certification program so far:



Farms certified

  • Area of plant cane certified: 165.68ha
  • Tons of cane certified: 8285 tons


Farms certified

  • Area of plant cane certified: 119.34ha
  • Tons of cane certified: 5967 tons


Farms certified

  • Area of cane certified: 36.04ha
  • Tons of cane certified: 1802 tons

Vakabuli Rd, Drasa


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Phone: +679 892 1839 | 892 1840



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