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Brown Planthopper

(Nilapavarta lugens)

The Brown Planthopper (BPH) is a significant pest threatening rice production in Southeast Asian countries. It causes significant damage to rice fields, resulting in substantial economic losses for rice-dependent farmers and nations.


One of the leading causes of the BPH outbreaks is the excessive use of insecticides. Farmers use insecticides to reduce the population; however, in doing so, they also kill natural enemies, which can lead to a resurgence of BPH.


Excessive use of pesticides can also lead to problems such as resistance of BPH to the pesticides. Farmers must understand how to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices to manage this serious pest effectively.


BPH is widely distributed in tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions of Asia; it is found in South, Southeast, and East Asia; the South Pacific islands; and Australia. The insect is found throughout the year, mainly on rice.  

The brown planthopper, Nilaparvata lugens .

IRRI Photo (Sylvia Villareal) CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED

The ASEAN FAW Action Plan is currently involved in an exciting regional project that is generating new knowledge on BPH populations and control approaches across ten countries in South and Southeast Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam). This project is generously supported by South Korea’s Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (AFACI) in partnership with CSIRO (Genomics Team) and will run from 2023 to 2026.  More Information on the project will be provided shortly.

Brown Planthopper

Brown Planthopper (Nilaparvata lugens)

The brown planthopper, a piercing-sucking insect, poses a significant threat to rice crops. Adults come in two variations: macropterous (long-winged) and brachypterous (short-winged) forms. The long-winged form measures around 3.5 – 4.5 mm and boasts transparent wings with prominent veins, adding to its distinct appearance against a brown body. The young nymphs start white and gradually darken as they mature. 

During severe infestations, BPH infestation can lead to wilting and complete drying of rice plants, a phenomenon referred to as 'hopper burn'. This pest further jeopardizes rice by acting as a carrier for ragged stunt virus and grassy stunt virus. In tropical regions, where it resides throughout the year, the brown planthopper can undergo up to 12 generations annually, while in temperate zones, where it migrates, the number of generations is fewer.

Seven Tips for  Control and Management   

Here are 7 key farmer tips that we have collected from various studies and field work to help control BPH infestations effectively

  • Monitor regularly

Regular monitoring is crucial for the early detection of BPH and for minimizing crop damage. Daily or weekly checks in seedbeds or fields, and inspecting stems and water surfaces are recommended. Various methods, such as tapping older plants, aid in detection. Scout for BPH or White-Backed  Plant Hopper until the milk stage of the crop.

  • Only use  insecticides when absolutely necessary

Overusing insecticides leads to outbreaks by eliminating natural predators. To prevent this, pesticides should be used only when necessary,  following government guidelines. Consultation with fellow farmers, agricultural experts, and local researchers is advised before considering chemical control measures.

  • Know your beneficial natural enemies 

 Identify beneficial species, such as water striders, mirid bugs, spiders, and egg parasitoids. Beneficial species help maintain ecological balance by regulating pest populations.

  • Incorporate crop rotation 

Crop rotation can disrupt the pest lifecycle, decreasing BPH numbers. Planting diverse crops each season prevents pests and diseases from finding suitable hosts, reducing the need for chemicals. Additionally, crop rotation enhances soil health by supplying various nutrients and curbing pest and disease buildup. Healthy soil fosters resilient rice plants. 

  •  Look after your soil and surroundings and destroy infected plants   

 Healthy soil supports resilient rice plants. Adjusting soil pH to be more acidic can help suppress BPH, as they prefer neutral to slightly alkaline soils. While a balanced nutrient supply is vital, excess nitrogen makes plants more susceptible to BPH. Removing virus-infected plants is crucial to limit virus spread by BPH.

  • Plant early, with good spacing, and consider using resistant varieties 

Planting rice early in the season can help avoid peak planthopper infestations. Also, avoid close planting and provide 30 cm rogue spacing at every 2.5 to 3 metres. Use rice varieties that are resistant to BPH. Planting these varieties can help to reduce the incidence of infestations. Ask other farmers and experts in the area for information on what varieties are available or being used. 

  • Practice good water management   

Implementing effective water management practices in crop cultivation can help reduce infestations such as avoiding over-irrigation, changing the m, micro-climate​


It is always advisable to consult with local experts or advisors for guidance and adhere to health and safety recommendations. 

Besur Village and BPH Control

Besur Village's Journey I: Sustainable Farming 

We introduce the inspiring success story of the Besur village community in the heart of East Java, Indonesia. Since 2016, the village has faced challenges posed by the Brown planthopper, and this chapter delves into its sustainable management strategies and response.

Besur Village's Journey III: Biological Control

In this segment, Mr. Muchlis will take us on a tour of the laboratory, where farmers can produce essential biological control agents. Additionally, Mr. Muchlis will showcase the "ATM" points—designated spots where farmers can conveniently claim biopesticides for free. Join us on this informative journey to understand how Besur Village empowers farmers with the knowledge and resources needed for effective, eco-friendly pest control.

Besur Villages Journey IV: The Next Innovation

Mr Haris, the head of Besur village, takes centre stage to unveil upcoming projects, including constructing a greenhouse for melon cultivation and establishing integrated cattle farming. Join us in this insightful wrap-up as we explore the exciting future initiatives Besur Village is undertaking to enhance its sustainable practices and community development further.

Further Resources

#1: A Review on Brown Planthopper, a Major Pest of Rice in Asia and Pacific 

This article offers an overview of the Brown planthopper, a significant rice pest with economic implications, particularly in tropical rice-growing areas and as a major threat in Asia and the Pacific. It also explains control measures, focusing on cultural and biological approaches to pest management. 

#2: Brown Planthoppers Infestations and Insecticides Use Pattern in Java, Indonesia 

This study investigated the correlation between crop damage inflicted by Brown planthoppers (BPH) and the various schemes of insecticide use. BPH populations witnessed a surge across Java, resulting in a minimum of 0.9  tons of rice losses by 2011. The findings of this research highlight the connection between BPH attacks and the patterns of insecticide usage in Java 

#3: Benefits of Flowering Plant as a Refuge to Improve the Ecosystems Services by Egg Parasitoids of the Rice Brown Planthopper 

The presence of flowering plants as a refuge can positively impact ecosystem services. This study evaluated the advantages of using flowering plants as a refuge to enhance the effectiveness of egg parasitoids in controlling the brown planthopper. The results indicate that such refuges create favorable conditions for parasitoids, leading to an increased production of offspring. 

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