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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICALLY BASED TECHNIQUES FOR MANAGEMENT OF VEGETABLE PESTS

Location: Vegetable Research

Title: Effect of yellow flowers on abundance of Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) on plants

Authors
item Simmons, Alvin
item Mahroof, Rizana -

Submitted to: Journal of Entomological Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 27, 2012
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Citation: Simmons, A.M., Mahroof, R.M. 2013. Effect of yellow flowers on abundance of Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) on plants. Journal of Entomological Science. 48:61-64.

Interpretive Summary: The sweetpotato whitefly is a serious insect pest of agriculture. It attacks many food, ornamental and nursery crops. This insect is a problem in both greenhouses and fields. Because whiteflies are well known to be attracted to the color yellow, it is common for growers to use yellow colored sticky cards in greenhouses to monitor and help control whiteflies. Yellow sticky cards are also used in the field to monitor this pest. When plants are flowering, they may become more attracted to whiteflies if their flowers are yellow. A field and greenhouse study was conducted to see if yellow flowers make plants more attractive to whiteflies. Data collected on cucumber, squash and sunflower suggest that whiteflies are more attracted to plants during their flowering stage because of yellow flowers. This information may be useful in helping researcher to better understand whitefly populations, and it may be useful in helping to develop better management strategies for whiteflies.

Technical Abstract: Whiteflies are major pests of agricultural crops around the world. Many factors are known to impact the population dynamics of whiteflies. This group of insects is well known to be attracted to the color yellow. Thus, yellow traps are used to monitor or control whiteflies in greenhouse and field crops. We examined the relationship that yellow flowers on plants of two crops may have on infestation by the sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius). Incidence of adults and eggs on plants of squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) and cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) and were examined in the greenhouse. Additional observations were made in the field. In both the greenhouse and field, whiteflies were attracted to plants with flowers and without flowers in statistically the same numbers, although the trend was toward the flower treatment. In both experiments, because treatments were adjacent flowering and deflowered plants, local movement between treatments may have made it difficult to detect any significant differences. Flower size and color differed between the two crops. Observations on sunflowers, Helianthus annuus L., in the field also followed the trend for an increased population of whiteflies on the flower treatment. Overall, the results suggest that the flowers of some species of plants, because of specific color, may influence whiteflies to become more attractive to the plant than when the plant is not flowering. These results may be of utility in population modeling of whiteflies or in management strategies such as in management with trap plants.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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