Sustainable Management Strategies for Management of Key Insect and Nematode Pests in Squash Cropping Systems

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2015: $10,121.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2018
Grant Recipient: University of Florida
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Oscar Liburd
University of Florida


  • Vegetables: cucurbits
  • Additional Plants: African marigolds, Cowpea, Sweet alyssum


  • Crop Production: cropping systems, intercropping
  • Education and Training: decision support system
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, cultural control, integrated pest management, physical control
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures


    The use of pesticides is generally used for pest and disease management but the development of pest’s resistance and the adverse effect on non-target organisms are major concerns. We evaluated the effect of the antagonistic African marigold (Tagetes erecta) and a variety of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) used as cover crops and companion plants, together with a bacterial bio-control agent Pasteuria penetrans against silverleaf whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci), aphids (Aphis spp.) and root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne javanica) in squash production. Refugia were attractive to multiple beneficial species. Orius spp. was abundant in marigold flowers, whereas cowpeas harbored high numbers of aphids that can become a reservoir for secondary infestations. Unlike African marigolds, the use of cowpeas intercropped with squash was not identified as viable strategy for squash pest management.

    Project objectives:

    The overall goal of this project was to evaluate the potential of African marigolds and cowpeas as cover crops and companion plants for management of silverleaf whiteflies, aphids, and thrips, and its effect on viral incidence in organic zucchini squash.


    1. Evaluate the effects of African marigolds and cowpeas used as companion plants on aphids, silverleaf whiteflies, and melonworms populations attacking zucchini squash.
    1. Assess the effects of African marigolds and cowpeas used as cover crops and companion plants together with penetrans for management of M. javanica in zucchini squash production.
    1. Determine the effects of African marigolds and cowpeas used as cover crops and companion plants on the soil suppressiveness of M. javanica induced by P. penetrans and the bacteria resilience after cover crop/zucchini squash rotations.
    1. Develop and provide educational materials on cultural and biological management of key insect pests and M. javanica attacking zucchini squash as a component of an outreach plan.
    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.