Submitted to: Journal of Entomological Science
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/2010
Publication Date: 4/1/2011
Citation: Suh, C.P., Westbrook, J.K. 2011. Influence of an insect rearing tent on cotton development and canopy temperature. Journal of Entomological Science. 46:1-4. Interpretive Summary: Research entomologists commonly use mesh cages to study insect-plant interactions under field conditions, but information regarding the influence of cages on plant development and environmental conditions is generally lacking. We examined the influences of white mesh cages on cotton plant development and canopy temperature during the initial three weeks of pre-floral bud production. With the exception of plant height, the mesh cages had no adverse affect on cotton development and only a minimal influence on canopy temperature. These findings bring us one step closer to developing a method for accurately assessing cotton fleahopper damage under field conditions.
Technical Abstract: Research entomologists routinely use mesh cages to confine insects on plants or to protect plants from unwanted organisms. Despite their common and accepted use in plant-insect interaction studies, information regarding the impact of cages on plant development and canopy temperature is generally lacking. We examined the influences of a commercially-available cage (Bugdorm 3120 Insect Rearing Tent) on cotton development and canopy temperature during the initial three weeks of pre-floral bud (square) production. On average, caged plants were approximately 28 and 14 percent taller than non-caged and insecticide-treated plants, respectively, at the end of the 3-week caging period. However, based on the total number of viable squares found on plants and percentage square set, the cages had no adverse effect on square development or retention. Overall, the average canopy temperatures of caged and non-caged plants were 27.8 and 26.8 degrees Celsius, respectively, but differences as much as 3 degrees were observed during the day. In light of these findings, the Bugdorm tent or cages of similar construction appear to be a useful tool for assessing cotton fleahopper damage under field conditions. However, given the influence of cages on canopy temperatures, the use of mesh cages to examine insect development on plants should be apprehensively considered, particularly if plants are caged for prolonged periods.