Integrated control of Carduus thistles and ecological studies on Rhinocyllus conicus Froelich and Ceuthorhynchidius horridus (Panzer)

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Virginia Tech


A biological and integrated control program for Carduus thistles was developed using the biological control agents Rhinocyllus conicus Froelich and Ceuthorhynchidius horridus (Panzer) and the herbicide 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D).

Field studies on the development of Ceuthorhynchidius horridus (Panzer) on Carduus thistles in Virginia between 1975-1978 showed that the weevil has one generation annually. Oviposition occurred from mid-December until early April, and larvae occurred in rosettes from late December through late May. Teneral adults, which appeared in mid-May through June, underwent an aestival diapause during most of July through September. Adult reappearance in late September coincided with an increase in feeding. Although adult feeding marks, teneral adults and first and third instar larvae were easily found in the field, detection of eggs, second instars or overwintering adults was difficult and time consuming.

Acute and chronic effects of spring application of 2,4-D (LVA) on adult C. horridus were examined. LC₅₀ values for males (70.2 kg/ha) and females (61.4 kg/ha) corresponded to 41.7 and 36.6 times, respectively, the recommended application rate of 1.68 kg/ha. Treatment with 1.68 kg/ha did not affect adult survival, but increased dosages (16.8-147.8 kg/ha) caused significantly greater mortality. Adult vitality, measured by number of feeding marks/weevil and weight change/time, was unaffected by the herbicide. Field application of herbicides did not prevent survival, reproduction, or population increase of C. horridus.

Herbicidal effect on larval R. conicus was studied by examining the mortality, emergence rates and weights of weevils developing from plants treated with 2,4-D (LVA). Infested heads, obtained by caging ovipositing R. conicus on primary heads of musk thistle (Carduus nutans L.) (resembles C. thoermeri Weinmann), were treated with 2,4-D at 1.68 kg/ha 0-3 weeks after oviposition. Blooms treated immediately following oviposition failed to support larval development beyond the second instar. Developmental times and weights of weevils that emerged from blooms sprayed at 1, 2, and 3 weeks were not significantly different from controls. Plants sprayed up to 2 weeks after oviposition (late-bud to early-bloom) did not produce viable seeds. Treatments at 3 weeks after oviposition (full-bloom) allowed 10% germination of seeds not damaged by R. conicus in primary heads, and plants survived to produce additional heads.

Acute and chronic effects of the herbicide 2,4-D on adult R. conicus were also examined. LC₅₀ values for adults prior to over-wintering (males 78.6 kg/ha; females 61.0 kg/ha) were lower than those for overwintered weevils (males 117.1 kg/ha; females 126.6 kg/ha), but were still at least 40 times the recommended application rate of 1.68 kg/ha. Survival was not significantly affected by direct application of 2,4-D at 1.68 kg/ha plus sticker or by exposure to herbicide sprays and residue while on musk thistle rosettes. Mean egg production/ovipositing female/3 day period was not significantly different (range = 5.44 - 7.60), regardless of the 2,4-D dosage applied (range = 0.0 - 147.84 kg/ha); all ovipositing weevils produced viable eggs. Field treatment with up to 2.24 kg/ha of 2,4-D resulted in death of host plants, but did not prevent survival or reproduction of R. conicus populations.