African pink borer

Sesamia calamistis

Nature of damage

  • Newly hatched larvae remain in a group behind the leaf sheath and begin chewing on the stem and inner side of the sheath.
  • Later, some larvae migrate to neighboring leaf sheaths, while others penetrate the stem, expelling a dust from within.
  • Severe damage causes the stem to break. 
  • These also feed in the whorl, tassels and ears.


  • Easy detachment of the central leaves of the whorl - 'dead heart'
  • Unfolding leaves will have rows of oblong holes.
  • Wilt brought on by damage at the base of the plant.

Geographic distribution

  • This borer is an important pest in the warmer coastal areas of Africa.

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