Submitted to: Southwestern Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/18/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: The tarnished plant bug is a serious pest of cotton in the southeastern United States. It is controlled in cotton exclusively by the use of insecticides, since no alternative control measures are available. Plant bugs overwinter as adults and reproduce and increase in numbers in the spring on numerous species of wild plants, prior to moving into cotton in June and July. These wild host plants are found in marginal areas around fields, roads, and ditches, and the total area with wild hosts is small in intensively farmed areas such as the Mississippi River Delta of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Because of the small area involved, it is economically feasible to manage these marginal host areas to reduce numbers of plant bug host plants. This could reduce subsequent plant bug numbers in cotton. Little research on this management strategy has been performed. The current manuscript reviews this research, and also reviews what is known about which wild host plants are the most importoant in the early-season buildup of plant bug populations.
Technical Abstract: A review of the literature available on wild host plants of the tarnished plant bug, Lygus lineolaris (Palisot de Beauvois), in the Southern United States found that most research on these hosts was done in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The most important hosts listed by most authors which could influence numbers of plant bugs found in cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L., were species of fleabane, Erigeron spp., since fleabane can support high numbers of plant bugs during the time that cotton begins to produce fruit in June and July. Nonselective management (mowing or use of herbicide that kill broad leaf weeds) of wild hosts to reduce plant bug numbers was tested in one small study. Selective management (control targeting only a few selected wild host plants) was proposed in one study but has never been tested. The effect of selective or nonselective management of wild hosts on subsequent populations of beneficial arthropods and plant bugs in cotton is unknown. Early season hosts on which the F1 generation is produced in February and March are only partly known, but management of these early hosts could be the most effective way of reducing tarnished plant bug numbers in cotton.