The “Big 3” of corn in Argentina

While leafcutter ants are one of the more unusual pests that Argentina corn farmers must deal with, the three most important confront farmers throughout the Western Hemisphere: stalk borers, earworms, and armyworms. In the U.S. the primary stalk boring pest of corn is the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis), while in Argentina it is the sugarcane borer (Diatraea saccharalis). Corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea) and fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), on the other hand, are common to both countries. Here are some recent photos of the three species in Argentina – the first two on corn and the latter on soybean.

After you look at the photos, I have a funny story…

Diatraea saccharalis eggs ready to hatch | Buenos Aires Prov., Argentina

Helicoverpa zea egg on corn silk | Buenos Aires Prov., Argentina

Spodoptera frugiperda mid-instar larva on soybean | Buenos Aires Prov., Argentina

Learning to speak a foreign language via immersion can result in some embarrassingly funny moments. This afternoon I made an unplanned visit to the field with some colleagues. There has been much rain recently so the ground was rather muddy. Not having my boots with me, I picked my way through as best I could, and afterwards as I was cleaning the mud off my shoes, I commented (in Spanish) to one of my Argentine colleagues (a young female) that this was my only pair of clean shoes. I said everything okay but messed up the word for shoes—instead of saying “calzados” I said “calzones.”

In Argentina, calzones means “underwear.”

I’m really glad the shocked look on her face quickly gave way to hysterical laughter once she figured out what I was trying to say.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2012

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
This entry was posted in Lepidoptera, Noctuidae and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The “Big 3” of corn in Argentina

  1. scrapydo says:

    Good on you! You at least tried to use some Spanish. I love to read your beetle things.

  2. Dave says:

    I can think of worse mistakes in Spanish starting with ‘c’. Beautiful language, though, and except for local variations, fairly standard grammar, pronunciation etc. I sometimes wonder how English ended up as the international scientific language, especially when I am editing papers from non-English speaking countries.

    • I don’t know enough Spanish to know which ‘c’ word that would be (although I can think of a ‘b’ word that is fine in some countries and definitely not in others).

  3. You could try “zapatos” next time. Off hand, I can’t think of anything embarassing that could be confused with.
    Just don’t tell anyone you’re “embarazado”.

  4. Chris Brown says:

    Very funny, Ted. Been there, done that. Hope the trip is going well.

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