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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Day, William
item Tilmon, K. J.
item Eaton, A. T.
item Romig, R. F.

Submitted to: Northeastern Field Crop Insect Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/15/2001
Publication Date: 5/31/2002
Citation: Day, W. H., Tilmon, K., Eaton, A., Romig, R. 2002. The widespread presence of Peristenus digoneutis, an introduced parasite of Lygus lineolaris in northeastern alfalfa, and implications for strawberries and other crops. Northeastern Field Crop Insect Conference Proceedings.

Interpretive Summary: In 1984, the first author established a European parasite of the tarnished plant bug (TPB) in NW New Jersey. It has since spread into at least 51 counties in 8 states, and is still dispersing. However, it is not present south of New York City, so it is too far from our lab (at Newark, DE) for us to conduct the needed research on fruit and vegetable crops. Our field studies demonstrated that the parasite has reduced TPB numbers in alfalfa by 65%. Our collaborators found TPB damage to apples has decreased by 63%, and the imported parasite is killing TPBs in strawberries, red clover, vetch, and several weeds. It is probable that this parasite is reducing TPB damage to many other crops in the northeast, and this article is an alert for researchers in this region to begin in-depth research projects on other crops, so the broad benefits of this new biological control agent can be determined. The Newark lab will assist, if needed. If future research demonstrates that the parasite is significantly reducing TPB damage to one or more crops, then lower crop production costs (from fewer insecticide applications) will result, a welcome benefit for conventional growers. Because organic farmers cannot easily control the TPB, they will benefit even more.

Technical Abstract: Lygus lineolaris, the tarnished plant bug (TPB), is a moderate to serious pest of a large number of fruit and vegetable crops in the northeastern U. S. The first author established a European parasite (Peristenus digoneutis) of the TPB in alfalfa, in northwestern New Jersey. It has reduced TPB numbers by 65%, for 10 years. With 3 cooperating scientists, we have found this parasite attacking the TPB in strawberries and other crops, and have observed a 63% reduction in TPB damage to apples over the past decade. It is likely that similar TPB reductions are occurring in other fruits and vegetables north of New York City, and field research on crop injury and parasitism levels are needed in this region to determine if insecticide reductions can be made.

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
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