Trap cropping for management of Harlequin bug in cole crops

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2009: $9,523.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Grant Recipient: Virginia Tech
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Thomas Kuhar
Virginia Tech

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: canola
  • Vegetables: broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, radishes (culinary), turnips, brussel sprouts


  • Crop Production: application rate management, catch crops, double cropping, intercropping, multiple cropping, relay cropping
  • Pest Management: biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, chemical control, cultural control, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, physical control, trap crops

    Proposal abstract:

    Harlequin bug, Murgantia histrionica (Hahn) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae), is a pest of cole crops (Brassicaceae). This study seeks to identify plant species/varieties that are preferred by this pest species in order to develop a trap crop system for its management, to attract pest feeding away from the protected crop to a nearby preferred “trap crop.” This method of management has potential in both conventional integrated pest management as well as organic vegetable production. This study also attempts to identify olfactory cues used by M. histrionica in host plant selection.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Survey the pest status and incidence of Murgantia histrionica on various cole crops in Virginia through grower surveys and field visits. Identify:
    a. what cole crops are grown
    b. when cole crops are planted and harvested
    c. what crops are affected by M. histrionica feeding
    d. whether or not trap cropping is a practical option for management
    2. Identify host plant preference of M. histrionica
    a. Observe M. histrionica densities per plant species (number adults/plant, egg masses per plant) in commercial settings
    b. Conduct caged field choice tests (number adults/plant, egg masses/plant)
    3. Determine the role of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) of Brassicas in attracting M. histrionica to its host plant.
    a. Develop a uniform method of describing the semiochemical profile of each plant species/variety of interest by collecting VOCs from whole plants and conducting gas chromatography linked to mass spectrometry (GC-MS)
    b. Identify compounds in VOCs that elicit an electrical response/stimulus in M. histrionica by conducting gas chromatography linked electroantennogram (GC-EAG)
    i. Identify variation in response between gender.
    4. Develop an effective trap crop approach for harlequin bug and field test at research stations and on commercial farms

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.