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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT FOR KEY PESTS OF PECAN AND PEACH

Location: Fruit and Nut Research

Title: Broad laboratory screening of entomopathogenic nematodes for control of plum curculio, Conotrachelus nenuphar

Authors
item Shapiro Ilan, David
item Leskey, Tracy
item Wright, Starker

Submitted to: Journal of Nematology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 24, 2011
Publication Date: December 1, 2011
Citation: Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Leskey, T.C., Wright, S.E. 2011. Broad laboratory screening of entomopathogenic nematodes for control of plum curculio, Conotrachelus nenuphar. Journal of Nematology. 43:279.

Interpretive Summary: The plum curculio is a major pest of peaches, plums, apples, and pears in North America. Current control recommendations for plum curculio consist solely of above-ground applications of chemical insecticides to suppress adult insects. Due to environmental and regulatory concerns, research on developing alternative control strategies is warranted. Our overall goal is to develop a sustainable multi-stage strategy control plum curculo. Part of the strategy entails the use of entomopathogenic nematodes to control the pest’s soil-dwelling stages. Entomopathogenic nematodes are small round worms that can be used as natural and environmentally friendly biopesticides. These nematodes only attack insects and should not be confused with harmful nematodes such as those that attack plants. In prior research, we established that soil applications of a certain nematode species called Steinernema riobrave can result in high levels of control (78-100%) when targeting plum curculio larvae in Southeastern peach orchards. Conceivably, when the technology is applied in other regions of the US, e.g., the Northeast, a different nematode may be more appropriate due to varying soil temperatures and other parameters. Therefore, the objective of this study was to conduct a broad laboratory screening experiment to select nematodes for use against plum curculio in the northeastern US. Using soil cups containing plum curculio larvae, we compared the virulence (killing power) of 13 entomopathogenic nematode strains in two different soils (from NH and WV) and at three temperatures (12°C, 18°C, and 25°C). Depending on the soil type and temperature, a number of strains exhibited high levels of virulence. We identified three nematode strain in particular that show promise for control of plum curculio. In future research, we will test the most promising nematodes under various field conditions, and determine their potential for use in an integrated plum curculio management approach.

Technical Abstract: The plum curculio, Conotrachelus nenuphar, is a major pest of stone and pome fruit in North America. Current control recommendations for C. nenuphar consist solely of above-ground applications of chemical insecticides to suppress adults. Due to environmental and regulatory concerns, research on developing alternative control strategies is warranted. Our overall goal is to develop a sustainable multi-stage strategy control C. nenuphar. Part of the strategy entails the use of entomopathogenic nematodes (Steinernema spp. and Heterorhabditis spp.) to control the pest’s soil-dwelling stages. In prior research, we established that soil applications of Steinernema riobrave can result in high levels of control (78-100%) when targeting C. nenuphar larvae in southeastern peach orchards. Conceivably, when the technology is applied in other regions of the US, e.g., the Northeast, a different nematode may be more appropriate due to varying soil temperatures and other parameters. Therefore, the objective of this study was to conduct a broad laboratory screening experiment to select nematodes for use against C. nenuphar in the northeastern US. Using soil cups containing C. nenuphar larvae, we compared the virulence of 13 steinernematid and heterorhabditid strains (comprising eight species) in two different soils (from NH and WV) and at three temperatures (12°C, 18°C, and 25°C). Depending on the soil type and temperature, a number of strains exhibited high levels of virulence including H. bacteriophora (Oswego), H. indica (HOM1), S. feltiae (SN), S. kraussei, S. rarum (17C&E), and S. riobrave (355). Overall, S. feltiae (SN), S. rarum (17C&E), and S. riobrave (355) appear to be the most promising candidates for use against C. nenuphar in the Northeast (though S. riobrave did not perform as well at the lower temperatures). In future research, we will test the most promising nematodes under various field conditions, and determine their potential for use in an integrated C. nenuphar management approach.

Last Modified: 8/1/2014