- Vegetables: peppers, tomatoes
- Natural Resources/Environment: hedgerows
- Pest Management: biological control, chemical control, cultural control, integrated pest management
Flower thrips and whiteflies are major economic pests of tomato and pose considerable threats as vectors of viruses that can result in major crop losses. Growers are faced with increasing challenges as these pests have developed resistance to nearly all classes of insecticides due to overuse. In an effort to develop a sustainable integrated pest management program, studies have focused on conservation biological control for generalist predators of these pests, specifically the minute pirate bug, Orius insidiosus Say.
The addition of non-crop habitat to large, monoculture crops has been shown to aid in the attraction of natural enemies by providing key resources including refuge and alternative food sources such as nectar and pollen. More recently, the biological control concept of "attract and reward" by combining floral resources with herbivore-induced plant volatiles to potentially increase immigration of natural enemies into crops has gained interest. The effects of HIPVs in combination with habitat manipulation on flower thrips and O. insidiosus, however, have not yet been studied in Florida fruiting vegetables.
This study will highlight the potential for implementing "attract and reward" as part of an integrated pest management program for fruiting vegetables and can provide understanding of the complex relationships among flowering plants, insect pests, and their natural enemies. By improving these systems and emphasizing the use of conservation biological control, insecticides and their associated negative impacts on environmental and human health can be reduced while increasing benefits for growers.
Project objectives from proposal:
Objective 1: Determine if O. insidiosus dispersal increases with the addition of odor attractants in tomatoes in greenhouse conditions.
Objective 2: Determine if O. insidiosus recruitment and dispersal is increased in tomato fields with "attract and reward" approach using wildflower hedgerows and volatile blends than with the use of hedgerow plantings alone.
Objective 3: Determine if "attract and reward" can reduce populations of flower thrips and whiteflies in the field.
Objective 4: Determine effects of "attract and reward" on tomato yield and quality in the field in relation to pest and O. insidiosus populations.