It is estimated that there are more than 1300 species of insects associated with the cultivation of sugar cane as its food source (Box, 1953). However, not all of them constitute pests of economic importance for the crop; in fact, and according to regional conditions, only between one and three species are presented as a serious limitation of production. In this regard, Bustillo (2013) mentions that 23 species of pest insects have been detected in sugarcane plantations in Colombia, and emphasizes that among them stem borers Diatraea spp. (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) and spittlebug Aeneolamia varies (F.) (Hemiptera: Cercopidae) are the most economically important pests in the crops of the Cauca river valley, without ignoring that other insects can occasionally produce considerable losses, such as the goat worm. Caligo illioneous Butler (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae), the mad ant, Nylanderia fulva (Mayr) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), and others that potentially establish themselves as pests of economic importance in sugarcane plantations, such as spittlebug Mahanarva bipars (Walker) (Hemiptera: Cercopidae), seed weevils Rynchophorus palmarum (L.) and Metamasius hemipterus (L.) (Coleoptera: Dryophthoridae), the winter cuttlefish Podischnus agenor Olivier (Coleoptera: Melolonthidae), and even the giant borer Telchin licus (Drury) (Lepidoptera: Castniidae), which has been reported in other parts of the country and could invade the Cauca river valley region.
In Cenicaña, sugarcane varieties are not selected for their resistance to the pests that attack them, but various alternatives have been investigated and proposed to regulate the populations of these insects, with emphasis on biological control.. Primarily, Among these activities, the various varieties are permanently evaluated with respect to their resistance to attack by Diatraea spp. (Echeverri et al. 2018) and spittlebug (Cuarán et al., 2012), and the response of commercial varieties as well as promising ones against the different insects associated with the crop is permanently monitored, in order to timely and effectively attend any outbreak that represents significant losses to the sector. In addition, work is being done on a methodology for assessing the damage caused by Diatraea under greenhouse conditions in the new varieties, to characterize with greater precision their level of resistance to borers and to identify the resistance factors to these and other pests, which can guide the breeders in their processes of crossing and searching for new varieties ( Echeverri-Rubiano et al., 2019; Echeverri-Rubiano et al., 2017).
The permanent work carried out by the Center to disseminate its findings in this regard, and the constant training of farmers to make them aware of the importance of timely sampling and control of the different pests will allow them not to threaten the sustainability of the plant. industry in the medium and long term. Along the same lines, this chapter contains information on a selected group of crop pests, with an emphasis on stem borers and spittlebugs, as well as relevant information about seed weevils, the mad ant, defoliators, the winter roach and the giant borer. In each case, aspects such as their economic importance, monitoring alternatives and control methods are analyzed.