Phylogenetic analysis combined with chemical ecology can contribute to the delimitation of closely related insect species, particularly in Lepidoptera. In this study, the taxonomic status of a species in the genus Busseola (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) was discussed using morphological data, cross-mating experiments, sex pheromone chemistry, field-trapping, and molecular classification. The results of the chemical ecology experiments corroborated those from the phylogeny studies. It was concluded that several reproductive isolation components, namely host plants, geography, pheromone emission time, pheromone blend, and post-zygotic isolation factors, led to the separation of Busseola n. sp. from its closely related species B. segeta. Molecular data showed a strong difference between these two species, regardless of the marker used. The new species named Busseola nairobica was morphologically described and a hypothesis about the evolutionary history of the studied species was put forward.
Busseola fusca (Fuller), Sesamia calamistis Hampson, Chilo partellus (Swinhoe) and Chilo orichalcociliellus (Strand) are important stem borer pests of maize and sorghum in East Africa. Persistence of these pests in crop fields is blamed on the influx of diaspore populations from the neighbouring natural habitats. In addition to pest species, natural habitats support numerous non-economic stem borer species, some not known to science. However, due to growing human populations and accompanying global change, some of the natural habitats are undergoing rapid changes, a process that may result in the evolution of ‘‘new’’ pest species. In this study, we investigated stem borer species diversity in four different vegetation mosaics in Kenya, with an aim of establishing the differences in species composition and distributions in both wild and cultivated habitats. We identified 33 stem borer species belonging to 14 different genera in the four families; Noctuidae, Crambidae, Pyralidae and Tortricidae from 37 plant species. In addition to the above stem borer pest species, we found three more species, Busseola segeta Bowden, Pirateolea piscator Fletcher and Eldana saccharina Walker, in the cultivated fields. Together, stem borer pests varied in distribution among vegetation mosaics, suggesting differences in ecological requirement. Despite the variations in distribution patterns, stem borer pests co-existed with non-economic species in the natural habitats, communities that are facing threats due to ongo ing habitat changes. This paper discusses the likely impacts of habitat changes on both pest and non-economic species.
Habitat modification and fragmentation are considered as some of the factors that drive organism distribution and host use diversification. Indigenous African stem borer pests are thought to have diversified their host ranges to include maize [Zea mays L.] and sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] in response to their increased availability through extensive cultivation. However, management efforts have been geared towards reducing pest populations in the cultivated fields with few attempts to understand possible evolution of "new" pest species. Recovery and growing persistence of Busseola segeta Bowden on maize (Zea mays L.) in Kakamega called for studies on the role of wild host plants on the invasion of crops by wild borer species. A two-year survey was carried out in a small agricultural landscape along the edge of Kakamega forest (Kenya) to assess host range and population genetic structure of B. segeta. The larvae of B. segeta were found on nine different plant species with the majority occurring on maize and sorghum. Of forty cytochrome b haplotypes identified, twenty-three occurred in both wild and cultivated habitats. The moths appear to fly long distances across the habitats with genetic analyses revealing weak differentiation between hosts in different habitats (FST = 0.016; p = 0.015). However, there was strong evidence of variation in genetic composition between growing seasons in the wild habitat (FST = 0.060; p < 0.001) with emergence or disappearance of haplotypes between habitats. Busseola segeta is an example of a phytophagous insect that utilizes plants with a human induced distribution range, maize, but does not show evidence of host race formation or reduction of gene flow among populations using different hosts. However, B. segeta is capable of becoming an important pest in the area and the current low densities may be attributed to the general low infestation levels and presence of a wide range of alternative hosts in the area.