Management of Mexican Bean Beetle, Epilachna varivestis Mulsant, in Snap Beans Using Cultural Control Strategies

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2013: $10,622.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Grant Recipient: Virginia Tech
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Thomas Kuhar
Virginia Tech

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: beans


  • Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, integrated pest management
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Snap beans are an important fresh-market crop in Virginia with more than 5,500 acres grown and one of the largest packing facilities in the U.S. located in the state. Mexican bean beetle (MBB), Epilachna varivestis Mulsant, is one of most serious pests of that crop, particularly in higher elevations in the state. Although this insect can be managed with foliar sprays of insecticides, more sustainable approaches are needed to alleviate the reliance on chemical control. Small plot field experiments will be conducted to better understand the biology of MBB in Virginia and to evaluate cultural management strategies for its control in snap beans. The first experiment will evaluate the effects of a delayed planting date and the use of a neonicotinoid (thiamethoxam) seed treatment on the population dynamics of MBB and other insects (both pests and beneficials). The second and third experiment will evaluate the host preference and development and success of MBB among four morphologically-different bean varieties (common green, purple Dutch wax, yellow wax, and lima) using a mark-recapture study as well as natural counts of MBB on adjacent plots. The development and success of MBB on the different bean varieties will be determined using life-table analysis. Information gained may help lead to trap crop approaches for the pest or perhaps reveal bean varieties that can best tolerate the pest.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Evaluate differences in insect community, injury and bean yield among four different experimental treatments of snap beans:

    1) Early-planted and untreated seeds
    2) Early-planted and treated seeds
    3) Late-planted and untreated seeds
    4) Late-planted and treated seeds.

    2. Evaluate developmental success of MBB, injury and bean yield among four morphologically different bean varieties using life-table analysis.
    3. Determine if MBB will move into a preferred host crop or away from a less preferred host crop using mark-recapture sampling.

    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.