Rice skipper


Pelopidas mathias Fabricius, Parnara guttata Bremer and Grey

What it does

Rice skipper feeding damage causes removal of leaf tissues. They roll leaves and make a protected chamber.

Why and where it occurs

Diverse microhabitats in upland environment are conducive to the rice skipper’s development. Droughts, downpours, floods, or misuse of pesticides are favorable for the insect because beneficial organisms, which held them in check, die.

Rice skippers are found in all rice environments. They are most abundant in rainfed rice fields. The adults are diurnal and at t nighttime, they rest. They have very fast and erratic flight movement as they skip from plant to plant. The larvae are nocturnal. They feed on the leaf blades at night and rest during daytime. They also create a leaf chamber where they rest during the day.

The insect favors young transplanted rice seedlings. Feeding damage continues until plant maturation.

rice-skipper-1Larva of rice skipper (Photo from NBAII, India)How to identify

Check the plant for the following symptoms:

  • removal of leaf tissues and veins and sometimes leaving only the midrib
  • rolling down of leaf tip or folding two edges of the same leaf or two adjacent leaves and tying them with silken threads to make a protective chamber

Check for presence of the larva feeding on the leaf blade:

  • white spherical eggs laid singly on leaf blades
  • larvae feeding on rice foliage

Why is it important

Rice skipper is considered as a minor pest in rice. They can be easily controlled because of the low potential severity and low population density. Yield losses caused by their feeding damage is very rare.

How to manage

Biological control

Parasites and predators usually control the population density of rice skippers in the field.

The eggs of rice skippers are parasitized by small wasps. Big wasps and tachinid flies parasitize the larvae. They are preyed upon by reduviid bugs and earwigs. The orb-web spiders feed on the adults during flight.

A nuclear polyhedrosis virus also infects skipper larvae.

Content expert: Jo Catindig (email: j.catindig@irri.org)