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Environmental and behavioral factors associated with the infestation of vineyards by larvae of grape root borer
Rijal, Jhalendra Prasad
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Grape root borer, Vitacea polistiformis (Harris), is an oligophagous pest of grapevines in the eastern USA. Neonates must burrow into the soil to find grape roots. In Virginia, larvae feed on roots for ~2 years, then pupate just beneath the soil surface. Emerging adults leave an empty pupal exuviae at the soil surface around the vine base. There was no relationship between weekly captures in pheromone traps and pupal exuviae counts, indicating that exuviae sampling is most appropriate to assess infestations. Exuviae sampling in Virginia vineyards revealed infestations that ranged from light to very heavy. Eighteen biotic and abiotic variables were measured and used in analyses that assessed their relative contributions to differences in exuviae density. Water holding capacity and clay/sand ratio were most strongly associated with pupal exuviae density; these variables were used to develop a model for predicting the extent of infestation of individual vineyards. The spatial distribution of pupal exuviae was characterized using non-spatial and geospatial techniques. Although the non-spatial method (Taylor's Power Law) indicated that exuviae showed an aggregated distribution in all blocks, spatial methods (variograms, SADIE) revealed aggregated distributions only in blocks with ≥ 0.5 pupal exuviae per vine. Independent pupal exuviae samples for population assessment in vineyards can be achieved using sampling points separated by >8.8 m. Combined results from geospatial analyses and the temporal distribution of pupal exuviae within years enabled the development of a practical and quantitative sampling protocol. Bioassays used to measure the behavioral response of larvae to host stimuli revealed that neonates were attracted to grape root volatiles. In soil column bioassays, larvae moved vertically and horizontally over distances of up to 120 cm and apparently perceived the presence of grape roots from a distance of 5 cm in soil. Results are discussed in relation to their potential implications for monitoring and managing grape root borer.
- Doctoral Dissertations