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Title: Artificial feeding system for the squash bug, anasa tristis (de geer)(heteroptera: coreidae)

item BEXTINE, B.R.
item Bruton, Benny
item Pair, Sammy

Submitted to: Southwestern Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/1/2003
Publication Date: 3/1/2003
Citation: Bextine, B., Wayadande, A., Bruton, B.D., Pair, S.D., Mitchell, F., Fletcher, J. 2003. Artificial feeding system for the squash bug, anasa tristis (de geer)(heteroptera: coreidae). Southwestern Entomologist. 28:63-67.

Interpretive Summary: Squash bug is a serious pest of squash, pumpkin, and other members of the cucurbit family of crops. Not only does it injure the plant as a result of feeding, it is a proven vector of a bacterium that causes Cucurbit Yellow Vine Disease (CYVD). CYVD is a serious disease of cucurbits and can be devastating to producers. Important to researchers is how the squash bug acquires the bacterium, where it resides within the insect, and how long it can be retained. This information will allow more rapid development of strategies to reduce impact of CYVD. Allowing squash bugs to feed on infected plants is unreliable and does not reveal the amounts of bacteria ingested. We developed a simple and reliable technique for feeding known amounts of the bacterium to otherwise non-vector squash bugs. This was done by cutting squash fruit into small portions and dispensing solutions containing the bacterium onto the plant tissue. When subjected to vacuum, the solution is absorbed throughout the fruit. The technique allows more precise measurements of bacterium intake and allows researchers to use insects known to be infective in establishing their disease spreading potential and to screen for varieties resistant to CYVD.

Technical Abstract: Squash bugs, Anasa tristis, did not feed on liquid diet-filled sachets used tradionally for homopterans, or on pouchlike artificial feed source (AFS) containing a meridic diet developed for rearing the western tarnished plant bug. However, excised cubes of squash fruit, vacuum infiltrated with a suspension of the desired diet and offered above a screen barrier, were accepted. During a 48-hr testing period, all cube-fed adult insects survived, while 35% of those fed on the meridic diet offered in parafilm pouches and 40% of those fed on 5% sucrose offered in sachets died. After blue food coloring was added to the diet as a marker, the excretory fluids of 75% of insects fed on infiltrated cubes was blue in color indicating feeding had occurred, while no blue defecation occurred when dye-amended diets were offered in the other two systems. The A. tristis AFS provides a convenient system for studying the feeding behavior of squash bugs and provides an alternative to whole plants for studying the etiology of cucurbit yellow vine disease.