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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Sustainable Pest Management Strategies for Arid-land Crops

Location: Pest Management and Biocontrol Research

Title: Biological control of cotton pests in China

item Luo, Shuping
item Naranjo, Steven
item Wu, Kongming

Submitted to: Biological Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/2/2013
Publication Date: 12/13/2013
Publication URL:
Citation: Luo, S., Naranjo, S.E., Wu, K. 2013. Biological control of cotton pests in China. Biological Control. 68:6-14.

Interpretive Summary: China is the largest producer of cotton in the world and there are a number of arthropod pests that affect production. Integrated pest management has been widely adopted in China and biological control plays an important role in overall pest control strategies. Cotton is produced in three major regions of the country (Yellow River Region, Changjiang River Region, and Northwestern Region). Pest complexes and the tactics integrated for their control vary among regions. Biological control with native and augmented natural enemies play and important role in all three regions. Augmentative biological control, whereby natural enemies are mass produced under controlled conditions and then released into cotton field for pest control, has been highly developed in China and includes parasitoids, predators and insect pathogens. The use of Bt transgenic cotton was first introduced in 1997 and it has been widely adopted in China over the past 14 years. The use of Bt cotton has greatly reduced insecticide use for several major caterpillar pests and this reduced usage has also aided the biological control of other major pests such as cotton aphids. However, reduction of insecticides also has been associated with the loss of control of plant bugs. These insects are now a major focus of research with the goal of developing integrated management systems that include the use of biological control.

Technical Abstract: Cotton is one of the most economically important crops in China and insect damage is a major factor affecting production. The strategy of integrated pest management (IPM), where biological control plays an important role, has been widely accepted. Nearly 500 species of natural enemies have been reported in cotton systems in China, but many fewer have been examined more closely. Seventy-six species of major arthropod predators and parasitoids of Lepidopteran pests, and 46 species of natural enemies of sucking pests have been described. In addition, microsporidia, fungi, bacteria and viruses are also important natural enemies. Trichogramma spp., Microplitis mediator, Amblyseius cucumeris, Bacillus thuringiensis and Helicoverpa armigera nuclear polyhedrosis virus (HaNPV) have been mass reared or commercially produced and used in China. IPM strategies for cotton pests comprised of cultural, biological, physical and chemical controls have been developed and implemented in the Yellow River Region Changjiang River Region and Northwestern Region over the past several decades. Bt cotton has been widely adopted for control of caterpillar pests. As a result of reduced insecticide sprays, increased abundance of natural enemies in Bt cotton fields prevents outbreaks of many other pests. However, populations of plant bugs have increased due reductions in insecticide applications and now pose a key problem in cotton production. In response, new control strategies, including biological control, are being developed.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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