Over the past decade grubs of the Asiatic garden beetle, Maladera castanea Arrow, have emerged as an early season subterranean root feeding pest of corn in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia. M. castanea was initially introduced to the United States in New Jersey in 1921 and would eventually cause sporadic economic damage to turf and ornamentals. The first report of M. castanea in Ohio occurred in 1994, and by 2012 the grubs were first observed heavily infesting corn in sandy soils in the northwestern counties. There are currently no successful management tactics or rescue treatments available for management of M. castanea in corn, often leaving farmers to replant (at great expense) should infestations become too severe. Entomopathogenic (insect-killing) nematodes are naturally occurring in the environment and could be a sustainable control agent for use against M. castanea in corn. Recent advancements in rearing techniques and easy-to-use formulations have lowered production costs and increased overall usage. The goal of this research is to assess M. castanea susceptibility to locally isolated entomopathogenic nematodes in Ohio field corn. To accomplish this, entomopathogenic nematodes will be isolated from the soil samples collected at farms affected by M. castanea in northern Ohio.
Isolated nematodes will subsequently be mass reared “in vivo” using economical and low input technologies. Local M. castanea populations will be collected from local farms and evaluated for susceptibility to these nematode species in greenhouse and field trials. The results from this research will help develop a sustainable management plant for M. castanea in corn using entomopathogenic nematodes. This proposal includes an outreach component to educate farmers about the safety and persistence of these nematode species, and to provide demonstrations regarding rearing nematodes at home and applying them with modified spray equipment. Contingency plans have been devised for the research portion of this study, while extension events including talks and workshops will be evaluated pre- and post-workshop surveys.
Project objectives from proposal:
The learning outcomes stemming from this project are that farmers will be able to: 1) understand how entomopathogenic nematodes provide a sustainable, low input, and economical management tool with minimal off-target effects, 2) learn which entomopathogenic nematodes M. castanea is susceptible to, 3) identify nematodes based on cadaver color and texture, and 4) learn how to rear and applying entomopathogenic nematodes at home for personal use.
The action outcomes from this study are that farmers interested in utilizing entomopathogenic nematodes for management of M. castanea in corn will be able to; 1) rear their own entomopathogenic nematodes for application on their personal farms, 2) use local entomopathogenic nematodes for management of M. castanea in corn, and 3) minimize insecticide use for management of M. castanea in corn.