Twelve thousand to 16,000 ha of Louisiana sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) fields were flooded by saltwater from the Hurricane Rita storm surge in September 2005. A four treatment, 12-replication study comparing storm surge flooded and nonflooded plant and ratoon sugarcane fields was conducted during summer 2006 to assess sugarcane borer, Diatraea saccharalis (F.), pest severity, pest control actions, and soil-associated arthropod abundance and diversity. Even with a significant 2.4-fold increase in the average number of insecticide applications used for D. saccharalis management in flooded fields, growers still incurred higher injury. A significant 2.8-fold reduction in the predaceous red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, was associated with the storm surge, whereas no reduction in abundance of other soil-associated arthropods was recorded. Arthropod diversity measured by the Shannon diversity index significantly increased by a factor of 1.3 in sugarcane fields flooded by the storm surge. Increase in D. saccharalis pest severity associated with the storm surge caused an estimated loss in revenue between $1.9 and $2.6 million to the Louisiana sugarcane industry for the 2006 production season.
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Vol. 102 • No. 3