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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Microbial Control of the Potato Tuber Moth (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae)

item Lacey, Lawrence
item Kroschel, Jurgen

Submitted to: Fruit, Vegetable, and Cereal Science and Biotechnology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2008
Publication Date: 5/10/2009
Citation: Lacey, L.A., Kroschel, J. 2009. Microbial Control of the Potato Tuber Moth (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Fruit, Vegetable, and Cereal Science and Biotechnology 3:46-54.

Interpretive Summary: One of the most injurious worldwide pests of potato is the potato tuber moth (PTM). Larvae feed on every part of the plant (leaves, stems, and tubers) and have caused severe economic losses. Since 2002 PTM became a significant pest of potato in the Pacific Northwest potato production areas of the United States. Reliance on chemical insecticides for its control has resulted in a variety of safety and environmental problems. Scientists at the USDA, Agricultural Research Service Laboratory in Wapato, WA and the International Potato Center in Lima Peru are researching control of PTM using insect-specific pathogens. In this presentation they have reviewed the literature on the use and potential of microbial control of PTM. In particular, the development of an insect-specific virus and bacterium has the most potential for control of PTM. This information will provide researchers and potato producers with a comprehensive resource for planning control strategies that employ insect-specific pathogens for control of PTM. Such strategies will result in better safety for applicators and the food supply and will minimize environmental contamination.

Technical Abstract: In tropical and subtropical agroecosystems, the potato tuber moth (PTM) (Phthorimaea operculella Zeller) is considered the most damaging potato pest. Larvae mine both leaves and tubers, in the field and in storage making the pest difficult to control. Over reliance on broad spectrum insecticides has resulted in the development of resistance in PTM populations, safety risks to farm workers, the food supply, and the environment. An integrated pest management (IPM) strategy, in which natural enemies of pest arthropods and other alternative measures for crop protection will minimize the negative effects of broad spectrum pesticides and provide a more sustainable approach to pest control. Due to their selectivity and safety, microbial control agents appear to be ready made components for IPM of PTM that do not pose a threat to applicators or the environment and allow other natural enemies to function. In this review, PTM and the potential for its microbial control will be highlighted. Emphasis will be placed on the development and use of a granulovirus and Bacillus thuringiensis for control in the field and in potato storage.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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