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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Byron, Georgia » Fruit and Tree Nut Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #285516

Title: Susceptibility of adult nut curculio to entomopathogenic nematodes in a laboratory study

item Shapiro Ilan, David
item HALL, MICHAEL - Louisiana State University

Submitted to: Pecan Grower
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/30/2012
Publication Date: 9/1/2012
Citation: Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Hall, M. 2012. Susceptibility of adult nut curculio to entomopathogenic nematodes in a laboratory study. Pecan Grower. 24(2):24-28.

Interpretive Summary: A weevil pest called the nut curculio can cause significan damage to pecans in the southeastern United States. This insect pest may be controlled with chemical insecticides. However, chemical insecticides can destroy beneficial insects (such as lady beetles) and harm the environment. Therefore, research toward developing environmentally friendly control methods for nut curculio is warranted. Our objective was to determine the potential of beneficial entomopathogenic nematodes to control nut curculio. Entomopathogenic nematodes are tiny round worms. Unlike some other kinds of nematodes, these beneficial nematodes only attack insects; they do not harm plants, mammals or the environment. We tested three species of entomopathogenic nematodes for the ability to kill adult nut curculio under laboratory conditions. We discovered that two nematode species (called Steinernema carpocapsae and Steinernema riobrave) are capable of killing nut curculio, whereas the third species (Heterorhabditis indica) did not kill the pest. In future research the two nematode species that were successful in the laboratory will be tested further in the field for their ability to act as natural control agents of nut curculio.

Technical Abstract: The nut curculio, Curculio hicoriae, can cause serious damage to pecans in certain regions of the southeastern United States. Although the pest can be controlled with chemical insecticides, research toward developing environmentally sustainable methods to control C. hicoriae is desirable. Our objective was to determine the potential of entomopathogenic nematodes to control C. hicoriae.Three entomopathogenic nematode species were tested for virulence and pathogenicity to adult C. hicoriae. The insects were collected from natural field populations. The nematodes, Steinernema carpocapsae and Steinernema riobrave were pathogenic to C. hicoriae yet there was no difference in their levels of virulence. In contract, Heterorhabditis indica was not pathogenic. Additional research is warranted to determine the potential of S. carpocapsae and S. riobrave to supress C. hicoriae under field conditions.