Insect Abundance and Diversity on Cultivated Amaranthus Spp. (Amaranthacea) in Meru County, Kenya
Robert N. Kagali, Esther N. Kioko, Zipporah Osiemo, Shadrack Muya, Catherine Wachera

Purpose: The focus of this research was to identify pests and natural enemies of amaranth as well as quantify the losses as a result of these pests.

Materials and Methods: Surveys of insect pests were done on randomly selected farms of farmers who were growing amaranth in Meru County between April 2012 and April 2013. The insects were collected by hand, sweep nets, knock down and pit-hole techniques depending on the type of insect.

Results: A total of 1256 specimens were collected, stored in alcohol, pinned on boards, identified and archived at National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi. Insect pests were classified into 5 orders, 15 families and 33 species with the most damaging insects being Cletus sp., Hepertogramma bipunctalis and Hypolixus nubilosus. The natural enemies were grouped into 2 orders, 5 families and 8 species.

Conclusion: There are diverse insect pests attacking amaranth causing considerable damage to yield of both leaves and grain hence requiring control measures. The natural enemies can be conserved and used for biological control. This is the first study on diversity and quantification of the losses caused by insect pest on amaranth in Kenya.

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