- Vegetables: cucurbits
- Pest Management: biological control, integrated pest management
The striped cucumber beetle (Acalymma vittatum) is a highly destructive agricultural pest. Pesticides still remain the most effective strategy for managing populations which poses an additional challenge to organic growers who cannot rely on chemical control. An alternative strategy for organic growers is biological control, by the use of a pest’s natural enemies. The purpose of this project is to conduct the basic research needed in order to determine if natural enemies are an effective pest management strategy for A. vittatum given its ecological relationship to cucurbits. The two objectives that will be achieved in the project are:
- Determine if, in the presence of a predator (C. setosa), feeding and sequestration of defense compounds increase by A. vittatum adults
- Determine if subsequent feeding damage by A. vittatum adults lowers cucurbit fitness.
This project will achieve both objectives using a 2×2 factorial design in two separate experiments in the 2022 and 2023 field seasons. I hypothesize that the presence of cucurbitacin C will affect the outcome of a trophic cascade in the system [Celatoria setosa, Acalymma vittatum, and Cucumis sativus ]. I predict that predator presence will increase feeding and damage on chemically defended C. sativus and lower plant fitness. The results of this study will be disseminated broadly to cucurbit growers across New York State through an experienced extension network.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Determine if, in presence of parasitoids, feeding and sequestration of cucurbitacins by A. vittatum increases.
- Determine if subsequent feeding damage by A. vittatum adults lowers cucurbit crop fitness.