Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Thomas, Peter
item Marco, Shlomo

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Urban Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/6/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: We have used a technology which we believe will have an important impact on the control of insect-borne plant diseases with reduced use of pesticides. This technology provides the first practical method by which the dispersal patterns of individual aphids can be traced from sources to destinations. The dispersal patterns for both long distance migrations of flying aphids and for plant-to-plant movement of wingless aphids in the field are easily followed. In this technique, aphid-infested source plants are dusted with powdered fluorescent dyes. The powdered dyes, available in many colors, adhere tenaciously to the exoskeleton of the aphid. Dye-dusted aphids are then easily identified wherever they may go by their very bright fluorescent glow under ultraviolet light. By labeling different source areas with different colors, one could determine the sources of flying aphids that carry different disease agents to different crops in different growing regions. Thus, aphids could be killed at their sources before they get to crops, or their weed hosts could be controlled. With the extensive aphid trapping networks already in place, it may be possible to target the use of pesticides to the time and place needed. By labeling insects, it may also be possible to determine the factors involved in the plant-to-plant dissemination of viruses within fields. These are but a few of the potential applications.

Technical Abstract: Studies were conducted to determine whether marking aphids with fluorescent powders would affect aphid processes and activities that could influence their role in the epidemiology of virus diseases. Aphids were dusted with fluorescent powders while they infested source plants. The powders readily adhered to the exoskeletons of four aphid species: Myzus persicae Sulzer. (green peach aphid), Aphis gossypii Glover (cotton aphid), Aphis fabae Scopoli (bean aphid), and Aphis craccivora Koch (cowpea aphid). The dusted aphids then were easily identified at a later date by their fluorescent glow under ultraviolet light. The powders had no perceptible effect on plants or on the dispersal behavior of the green peach aphid. In flight chambers, about the same percentage of labeled and unlabeled green peach aphid alatae took flight, and their preference for white, yellow, or gray at landing was not affected as compared with unmarked aphids from the same population. Marking green peach aphid apterae did not affect aphid fecundity, longevity, movement to and among plants, or capacity to acquire and transmit potato leafroll virus. The powders were rinsed from plants after 3 h of sprinkler irrigation but not from aphids. We conclude that marking aphids with fluorescent powders could be a suitable method to trace dispersal patterns of both alate and apterous aphids and could be useful as a tool for elucidating the epidemiology and control of aphidborne virus diseases.

Last Modified: 05/23/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page