Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/22/2004
Publication Date: 12/1/2004
Citation: Dogramaci, M., Shrefler, J., Roberts, B.W., Pair, S.D., Edelson, J.V. 2004. Comparison of management strategies for squash bugs (Hemiptera: Coreidae) in watermelon. Journal of Economic Entomology. 97(6):1999-2005.
Interpretive Summary: Squash bug is a serious pest of cucurbit crops throughout much of North America. Although historically limited to primarily squash and pumpkin, in recent years it has severely damaged watermelon in Oklahoma and Texas. Since squash bug actually prefers squash for feeding and egg laying, it has shown potential in small plots as a management tool for squash bug in watermelon. Squash is planted around the perimeter earlier than watermelon. Squash bug are attracted first to the squash and can be controlled there. We tested this technique against standard practices in grower fields throughout Oklahoma in 2001-2002. Greater numbers of squash bug were found in trap crop fields than in fields without squash. However, the greater numbers were on squash rather than the watermelons. This tests suggests that squash may attract squash bug over a large area and can be used to concentrate populations which can be controlled more readily. Additional research is needed to verify use of the trap crop technique at different planting dates and in different cucurbit crops.
Technical Abstract: Two watermelon pest management practices, a squash trap crop and a standard recommendation employing soil-applied carbofuran, were compared using large-scale field plots to assess trap crop suitability as a replacement for the standard in 2000, 2001 and 2002. In both systems, foliar insecticide applications were used to control squash bugs when populations exceeded threshold levels. During 2001 and 2002 a treatment of untreated watermelon was used. Early adult insects, from seedling to fruit set, are most critical for watermelon. Significantly fewer early adult bugs were found on watermelon in the trap crop than in the standard recommended practice in one out of three years. In both years, significantly fewer adult squash bugs were found in watermelon in the trap crop than in untreated fields. The standard recommended practice significantly reduced adult squash bugs in watermelon compared to the untreated in one out of two years. There was no significant correlation of watermelon yield and squash bug density, indicating that squash bug densities were too low to impact yield. Although squash bugs were reduced significantly by the trap crop, marketable watermelon yields were lower in the squash trap crop than in untreated watermelon, suggesting that pest management treatments may interfere with crop productivity factors other than squash bug colonization. Results suggest that mid-season production squash bug should be managed by monitoring populations and using insecticides as needed rather than using at-plant treatment. Further research is needed to compare treatments during early-season production.