Diapause biology, dispersal capabilities and insecticide use for Lygus lineolaris in Mid-Atlantic cotton systems

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Virginia Tech


Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), is cultivated in the United States, primarily in regions characterized by long, hot summers to optimize plant growth. Virginia is the northernmost state where cotton is grown, with approximately 84,000 acres annually. The unique challenges of cultivating cotton in Virginia stems from its relatively short season due to its geographical location, lack of large contiguous acreage, and distinctive issues with pests. A significant pest of this region is the tarnished plant bug, Lygus lineolaris (Palisot de Beauvois), which emerged as a major threat to mid-Atlantic cotton during the late 2010s. L. lineolaris utilize a variety of wild and cultivated hosts to survive the winter months. The overwintering success and distribution of diapause survival L. lineolaris was measured on cover crops and weeds common in the Mid-Atlantic. Densities varied between weed and cultivated hosts, with L. lineolaris exhibiting increased survival in legumes compared to grains. Carbohydrate, lipid and protein levels were measured within diapausing and non-diapausing L. lineolaris specimens. Overwintering specimens usually had elevated level of carbohydrates and lipids, while containing decreased concentrations of protein. Nutrient quantification provided an effective tool in selecting for diapause status in L. lineolaris. Through the results from this study, an alternative method to dissection for determining diapause status in L. lineolaris has been identified. In the spring, movement of L. lineolaris throughout the landscape is highly dependent on host senesce. Flight analysis, behavioral assays and nutritional quantification assays on L. lineolaris populations from different weed hosts were performed to assess the flight capacity of specimens fed from different hosts. While weed hosts type provided populations with differing internal nutrient levels, sustained flight was not different between populations. When dispersal of L. lineolaris into cotton occurs, insecticide treatments following scouting are often necessary to prevent economic damage to the plant. Insecticide experiments were conducted aiming to assess the impact of different active ingredients on L. lineolaris, secondary pests, and natural enemy populations. Findings indicated that insecticides used to control L. lineolaris were successful at lowering pest populations and acephate was found to impact natural enemy populations. Plots applied with acephate experienced secondary pest outbreaks, highlighting the crucial role of natural enemies.



tarnished plant bug, Gossypium hirsutum, weeds, cover crops