Submitted to: Entomological News
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/21/2003
Publication Date: 6/23/2004
Citation: Day, W. H; A. T. Eaton; R. F. Romig; K. J. Tilmon, M. Mayer, & T. Dorsey. 2003. PERISTENUS DIGONEUTIS, a parasite of LYGUS LINEOLARIS in northeastern United States alfalfa, and the need for research on other crops. Entomol. News 114:105-111. Interpretive Summary: The tarnished plant bug (TPB) damages a variety of important crops in the eastern 3/4 of North America. The first author established Peristenus digoneutis, a parasite from Europe, to provide biological control of the TPB. It has reduced TPB numbers by 65% in alfalfa for 10 years, in NW New Jersey. Damage by the TPB to apples has been reduced by 63% in New Hampshire, during the same period. The parasite is causing moderate to high mortalities of TPB in red clover, strawberries, vetch, and several weeds. Additional research is needed to determine if crop quality and yield benefits are also occurring. Although the parasite has been found in 55 counties in 8 states (and Quebec), it is not adapted to the warm summers south of New York City, so the Newark lab cannot conduct the needed research. This article is an alert for researchers in the northeastern states to begin such research, which may be in collaboration with Newark. If future research shows that the parasite is reducing crop damage, then fewer insecticide applications (and lower crop production costs) will result. Small farmers and organic growers will benefit the most, because they cannot control the TPB at present.
Technical Abstract: The tarnished plant bug (TPB), Lygus lineolaris (Palisot), damages a wide variety of important crops in North America. Peristenus digoneutis Loan, an European parasite established to provide biological control of this plant bug, has reduced TPB numbers in alfalfa for ten years. Damage to apple fruit in New Hampshire during the same time period has been reduced by 63%, and it appears that biological control may be responsible for this decrease. Moderate to high parasitism rates by P. digoneutis have also been observed in strawberries, vetch, red clover, and weeds. P. digoneutis is dispersing on its own, and has been found in eight states and Quebec to date. Additional research is needed on the parasitism of the pest insect on apples and other crops, and on movement of the parasite into new areas.