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Research Project: Basic and Applied Approaches for Pest Management in Vegetable Crops

Location: Vegetable Research

Title: Bemisia tabaci on vegetables in the southern United States: incidence, impact, and management

item LI, YINPING - Fort Valley State University
item MBATA, GEORGE - Fort Valley State University
item PUNNURI, SOMASHEKHAR - Fort Valley State University
item Simmons, Alvin
item Shapiro Ilan, David

Submitted to: Insects
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/13/2021
Publication Date: 2/26/2021
Citation: Li, Y., Mbata, G.N., Punnuri, S., Simmons, A.M., Shapiro Ilan, D.I. 2021. Bemisia tabaci on vegetables in the southern United States: incidence, impact, and management. Insects. 12:198.

Interpretive Summary: The sweetpotato whitefly is a global pest that attacks many vegetable crops as well as other crops. Recently, there has been yearly losses of up to 161.2 million USD in vegetable crops in Georgia. Insecticides remain the principal tool to suppress populations of this pest on vegetable crops. However, this pest has developed extensive resistance to insecticides. Therefore, alternative or complementary management strategies are needed as discussed herein. This includes: cultural control which relies on manipulation of production practices that provide conditions that are unfavorable to pests, such as water and fertility management, host-free periods, living and synthetic mulches or UV-absorbing materials, trap crops, and barrier crops; plant resistance; and biological control involving predators, parasitoids, and pathogens. The integration of these strategies will improve whitefly management, and will contribute to sustainable future vegetable production in the southern United States.

Technical Abstract: The sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci Gennadius (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) is one of the most economically important insect pests of various vegetable crops in the southern United States. Bemisia tabaci is considered a complex of at least 40 morphologically indistinguishable species. Bemisia tabaci Middle East-Asia Minor 1 was initially introduced in the United States around 1985 and has since rapidly spread across the southern United States, where extreme field outbreaks occurred on vegetable crops. The insect creates extensive damage through direct feeding on vegetables, secreting honeydew, causing plant physiological disorders, and vectoring plant viruses. The direct and indirect damage in vegetable crops has resulted in enormous economic losses in the southern United States, especially in Florida, Georgia, and Arizona. Effective management of B. tabaci on vegetables relies mainly on the utilization of chemical insecticides, particularly neonicotinoids. Nevertheless, B. tabaci has evolved considerable resistance to insecticides from most chemical classes. Therefore, alternative integrated pest management tactics are validated, such as cultural control by manipulation of production practices, resistant vegetable varieties, and biological control using natural enemies.