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

    Proposal abstract:

    Zucchini squash is a high value vegetable crop in Florida valued at approximately $67 million. Key insect pests including the silverleaf whitefly and the melon aphid, and key plant-parasitic nematodes such as the root-knot nematode attack zucchini squash causing yield losses up to 80 percent. Most researchers have evaluated pest control practices on either insect pests or root-knot nematode. However, chemical pesticides, cultural practices, or biological control used as separate strategies are not effective at reducing pest populations under non-damaging levels. This project proposes to evaluate a combination of non-pesticidal approaches to control key pests in organic squash crops with the ultimate objective of improving food safety, limiting the effects of pesticides on non-target organisms and maintaining the environmental health.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Evaluate the effects of African marigolds and cowpeas used as cover crops and companion plants on aphids, silverleaf whiteflies, and melonworm populations attacking zucchini squash.
    • Assess the effects of African marigolds and cowpeas used as cover crops and companion plants together with P. penetrans for management of root-knot nematode in zucchini squash production.
    • Determine the effects of African marigolds and cowpeas used as cover crops and companion plants on the soil suppressiveness of root-knot nematode induced by P. penetrans and the bacterial resilience after cover crop/zucchini squash rotations.
    • Develop and provide educational materials on cultural and biological management of key insect pests and root-knot nematode attaching zucchini squash as a component of an extension and 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.