- Pest Management: integrated pest management
Chauliognathus pensylvanicus (De Geer) and C. marginatus (Fabr.) are two of the most common species of cantharid beetles observed in agroecosystems in Virginia. Despite their regional abundance and early recognition and description in the 1700s, little is known about their life cycles and ecological role in agricultural systems. Immatures are generalist predators and have been recorded feeding upon soft-bodied insects such as lepidopteran larvae. Adults are attracted to and frequently visit flowering plants, where they eat nectar and/or pollen. Beyond those observations, relatively little is known about these species. Because of their gravitation to flowering plants as adults and predatory behaviors as larvae, there is great potential to attract adults to an agricultural area with specifically planted flowers, provide choice habitat for egg-laying in nearby crop plots, and encourage larvae to feed upon a wide variety of insect pests. To determine whether larval predation by Chauliognathus spp. could be valuable in an integrated pest management context, this proposed works weeks to characterize the phenology and ecology of the two soldier beetle species, examine their interactions with prey, and evaluate their responses to common agricultural IPM practices.
Project objectives from proposal:
Objective 1: Characterize the phenology of soldier beetle species in southwest VA agricultural systems.
Objective 2: Investigate the diet and feeding behavior of larvae and adults.
Objective 3: Evaluate the insects’ responses to common agricultural practices of smaller-scale farms.