Organic Management of Cucumber Beetles in Cucurbits
Activities in this project were not scheduled to begin until January, 2002. However, twigs were collected from 12 pawpaw genotypes in May and June, 2001. The twigs were dried, ground, and are currently being stored. Extracts of the twigs will be screened for general biological toxicity and toxicity to cucumber beetles in 2002. Cucumber beetles were captured and an attempt was made to culture them in a greenhouse. This attempt was not successful. Laboratory experiments may have to conducted with beetles captured during the growing season or with beetles purchased commercially.
1. Compare organic methods for managing cucumber beetles in watermelon, including use of reflective mulches, beneficial insects, trap crops, cover crops, and companion plants.
2. Develop an organic system for managing cucumber beetles with muskmelon including combinations of management methods in a systems-oriented approach.
3. Determine direct and systemic toxic effects of pawpaw extracts on striped cucumber beetles.
4. Determine insecticidal effects of pawpaw extract on cucumber beetles in muskmelon.
Activities in this project were not scheduled to begin until January, 2002. In 2001, an unsuccessful attempt was made to culture captured cucumber beetles in a greenhouse. Beetles may have to be captured directly from the field, or they may be purchased from a commercial source. Twigs were collected in from 12 pawpaw genotypes in May and June, 2001. In following years extracts of the twigs will be screened for general biological toxicity using a brine shrimp bioassay. The three most potent extracts will be evaluated as organic insecticides for cucumber beetles in laboratory experiments. The most promising extract will be tested as an organic insecticide for cucumber beetles on three Kentucky farms and at the Kentucky State University Research Farm.
Field experiments with watermelon and muskmelon will be conducted at the Kentucky State University (KSU) Research Farm and on farms of five Kentucky farmers. Effects of several organic methods on cucumber beetles, beetle-transmitted bacterial wilt, and melon yields will be determined. Organic methods will include different types of trap crops, beneficial insects, companion plants (insect attracting and repelling), and reflective mulch.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Cucumber beetles are a major problem in the organic production of cucurbit vegetables. Improvements in the organic management of cucumber beetles would make organic production of cucurbit vegetables more profitable, thereby increasing rural income and preserving small farms. In addition to cucurbits, cucumber beetles are also pests of peanut, bean, potato, asparagus, tomato, cabbage, corn, cabbage, pea, beets, and eggplant. Thus, organic production of many crops could be affected by this research. Because organic vegetable farming is well-suited to small farms, this project will especially benefit owner-operated, small- and moderate-sized farms. This is particularly relevant in in the tobacco belt, where decreases in tobacco production are likely. Successful results from this project will help tobacco farmers diversify to other crops, i.e., organic production of cucurbit vegetables. Adaptation of organic methods developed in this project would decrease use of off-farm inorganic pesticides, which would help to preserve soil/water resources and reduce health hazards to farmers.