Today is National Rum Day. Finally, a holiday I can really support and raise my glass to! In honor of this auspicious day, I am (of course) going to bring insects into it. Rum is made from sugarcane byproducts, usually molasses or sugarcane juice. And you know what else likes sugarcane? Yep, insects! One of the big ones is the sugarcane top shoot borer (Scirpophaga novella). In the larval stage, this little critter bores into the leaf and then down the main shoot and then into the cane of the plant. One resource says they can have four to five generations per year!
There is also a sugarcane beetle (Euetheola humillis, sometimes E. rugiceps). The adults and particularly the grubs feed on the roots. Females will lay as many as 100 eggs and the larvae feed for up to three months causing significant damage to small/young plants.
I think there is an aphid for practically every single species of plant out there and sugarcane is no exception. There is a yellow (Sipha flava) and a white (Melanaphis sacchari) sugarcane aphid. They are little vampires that slowly suck the lifeblood out of the plants, mwahaha! Okay, so that’s exaggerating it a bit, but they do pierce the plant tissue and suck on the juices. Along with the direct feeding damage and overall weakening of the plants, the aphids can produce large amounts of honeydew that drip down off their bodies, lands on the leaves below them, and causes and nasty sooty mold that blocks the sunlight, reduces photosynthesis, and negatively affects yield. What dastardly little devils.
To finish off this cocktail of entomological awesomeness, there is a museum in the Gaudelope Islands that combines rum and a “spectacular exhibit of over 5,000 insects“. Who wants to fund my trip to the islands? I promise to send you a postcard!
If that’s not intoxicating enough, how about a trip to the Isle of Rum? It is off the west coast of Scotland and has some beautiful insect species. I think it’s a smashing good idea to celebrate National Rum Day with a chaser of entomological awesomeness.