Submitted to: National Sweetpotato Collaborators Group Progress Report
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: January 19, 2010
Publication Date: February 6, 2010
Citation: Jackson, D.M. 2010. Destructive and Useful Insects in Sweetpotato Breeding Nurseries. National Sweetpotato Collaborators Group Progress Report, 2009. Technical Abstract: Sweetpotato polycross nurseries depend on natural pollination by bees and other insects. Unpollinated flowers dehise and do not produce seeds, thus it is important to protect natural bee populations in ensure maximum seed production. There are several other insect species that frequent sweetpotato seed nurseries that are quite destructive. Foliar feeders, such as armyworms, tortoise beetles, and the sweetpotato hornworm can cause significant damage to sweetpotato plants, but they are usually easily controlled. Of much more concern at the U. S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, SC, is the potato leafhopper. These insects reach high numbers, and if not controlled they can severely stunt or kill the sweetpotato plants in a polycross nursery. They are also difficult to manage because most of the insecticides used to control them are also toxic to bees. Sprays of materials with a short residual activity should be applied in the afternoon after the sweetpotato flowers close and fewer bees are present.