The rice water weevil, Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus Kuschel, is the most widely distributed and destructive early season insect pest of rice, Oryza sativa L., in the United States. Economic losses result primarily from feeding by the larval stage of this insect on the roots of flooded rice plants. Prior studies suggest that infestations of rice water weevil larvae are more severe at low plant densities. Moreover, because feeding by the rice water weevil reduces rice plant tillering, a process particularly important to yield at low seeding rates, infestations by weevil larvae may have a greater impact on rice yields when rice is seeded at low rates. In total, six experiments were conducted over a 3-yr period in Louisiana and Missouri to investigate the impacts of rice seeding rate on levels of infestations by, and yield losses from, the rice water weevil. An inverse relationship between seeding rate and densities of rice water weevil larvae and pupae on a per area basis was found in two of the six experiments. Furthermore, in two of the three experiments conducted with ‘Bengal’ (a susceptible cultivar) in Louisiana, percentages of yield loss were significantly higher at lower seeding rates than at higher seeding rates. Overall, these results indicate that rice sown at low rates is more vulnerable to infestation by rice water weevils and more susceptible to yield losses from weevil injury. The significance of these findings in light of recent trends toward the use of lower seeding rates in drill-seeded rice is discussed.
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Vol. 102 • No. 5