Ethiopian Journal of Biological Sciences

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Prevalence of termites and level of damage on major field crops and rangelands in the Manasibu District, western Ethiopia

O Djirata, B Jembere, E Getu, S Mengistou


ABSTRACT: The current status of termite damage on maize (Zea mays
(L.)), teff (Eragrostis tef (Zuccagni) Trotter), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor
(L.)) and rangelands was studied in five Kebele administrations (study sites) and on three farmers' fields in every Kebele, in Manasibu District, Wellega Zone of Oromiya Regional State. Termite samples were collected from infested crop fields and rangelands, identified to the genus level with keys to the Ethiopian termites, and percentage occurrence for each genus was determined. Six genera of termites: Ancistrotermes, Macrotermes,
Microtermes, Odontotermes, Pseudacanthotermes and Trinervitermes
identified. The first five genera belong to the subfamily Macrotermitinae
whereas Trinervitermes belongs to Nasutitermitinae. All of the genera
belonged to the family Termitidae. Subterranean termites in general and
Microtermes in particular, were found to be the most prevalent termites in the study area. The damage that termites caused to maize and sorghum were assessed by the use of quadrates and that of teff by laying wooden frames in the quadrates. For all the three crops, damage was assessed at vegetative, flowering, and maturity stages. It was found out that the levels at which the three crops were damaged by termites were significantly different from each other. Teff was the most seriously damaged crop in the study area, followed by maize, while sorghum was the least affected crop. Damage at different stages, within each crop, were also found to be significantly variable from each other. To evaluate the impact of termites on rangelands in the absence and presence of grazing by livestock, three plots of rangelands were fenced and protected for six months. It was found that the protected plot of the rangelands significantly had higher percent vegetation cover and lower number of termite foraging holes per m2. From the study, it can be concluded that the genus Microtermes was the major termite species attacking crops and rangelands in Manasibu district, implying that most control strategies should focus on this genus, especially to control termites on teff and maize.
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