Submitted to: Environmental Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 4, 2009
Publication Date: June 1, 2009
Citation: Esquivel, J.F., Esquivel, S.V. 2009. Identification of cotton fleahopper (Hemiptera: Miridae) host plants in Central Texas and compendium of reported hosts in the United States. Environmental Entomology. 38:766-780. Interpretive Summary: The cotton fleahopper is a pest of cotton during the early growing season in Central Texas and the Cotton Belt. This insect develops on weed species and moves to cotton when the weed species are no longer attractive. A 3-year survey in Central Texas identified eight new weed species (hosts) that harbored cotton fleahoppers. In all years, the leading hosts for fleahoppers were evening primroses during the early spring, silverleaf nightshade during the summer, and croton during the fall. No fleahoppers were collected during the winter. Other hosts were available before the leading hosts became available. A comprehensive list of plant hosts for the fleahopper was generated for future researchers. The three plant families with the most species harboring fleahoppers were the aster, mint, and primrose families. The identification of new hosts, presence of other hosts before leading hosts, and apparent breadth of weed hosts will aid in assessing and managing weed hosts to control fleahopper populations in cotton.
Technical Abstract: The cotton fleahopper is an early-season pest of developing cotton in Central Texas and other regions of the Cotton Belt. Cotton fleahopper populations develop on spring weed hosts and move to cotton as weed hosts senesce, or if other weed hosts are not readily available. To identify temporally available weed hosts for the cotton fleahopper in Central Texas, blooming weed species were sampled year-round during a 3-yr study. Eight previously unreported hosts were identified. The leading host for cotton fleahopper adults and nymphs during the early spring in all years was evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa T. Nuttall). During the mid-season, silver-leaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium A. Cavanilles) was the leading host for fleahopper nymphs and adults. Woolly croton (Croton capitatus A. Michaux) was a leading host during the late season. Cotton fleahoppers were not collected during the overwintering period. Temporal sampling indicated other suitable hosts were available before previously reported primary hosts became available. A compendium of reported hosts for the cotton fleahopper is provided for future research addressing insect-host plant associations. More than 160 species of plants, representing 35 plant families have been reported as hosts for the cotton fleahopper. Leading plant families were the Asteraceae (aster family), Lamiaceae (mint family), and Onagraceae (primrose family). Results presented here indicate a strong argument for assessing weed species diversity and abundance for the control of the cotton fleahopper in the Cotton Belt.