Development and Evaluation of Integrated Approaches for Managing of Mexican Bean Beetle, Epilachna varivestis Mulsant
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The Mexican bean beetle, Epilachna varivestis Mulsant, is a major pest of snap beans, Phaseolus vulgaris L. in the Central Appalachian region of the United States. To develop pertinent research objectives, background information on this pest was gathered from literature sources and personal communications with growers, extension agents and other agricultural professionals. In objective one, Mexican bean beetle preference, developmental success and plant injury were compared among three snap bean and three lima bean cultivars in field and greenhouse trials. The cultivar 'Dragon's Tongue' was the most preferred, suitable for development, and prone to injury. Growers may benefit from growing less susceptible cultivars, or by using 'Dragon's Tongue' in trap cropping or push-pull strategies. In objective two, Mexican bean beetle densities, feeding injury, and yield were compared among snap beans grown on metallized plastic (highly reflective), white plastic, black plastic, and bare soil. Metallized plastic provided the greatest level of control, and resulted in the highest yields. Managing Mexican bean beetle by growing beans on metallized plastic may be used as a stand-alone method, or in a push-pull strategy. In the final objective, the effects of snap beans grown from thiamethoxam (a neonicotinoid insecticide)-treated seeds on Mexican bean beetle were assessed in greenhouse and field experiments. Thiamethoxam-treated plants killed 40 to 50% of Mexican bean beetle adults and larvae up to 16 days after planting. In the field, thiamethoxam-treated plants mitigated Mexican bean beetle densities and damage in one out of five experiments, resulting in a yield increase. In none of the five field experiments were differences detected in predatory arthropod species between thiamethoxam and non-insecticide treated beans. In summary, the results of this project suggest that non-chemical management methods, such as cultivar selection and planting beans on reflective mulch, can provide effective control of Mexican bean beetle. Thiamethoxam-treated seed may also provide control of this pest, but only within two to three weeks after planting; otherwise, there is typically no effect on beetles, injury or yield. This doctoral research has laid a foundation for an integrated pest management approach for Mexican bean beetle.
- Doctoral Dissertations