Effects of Thiamethoxam-Treated Seed on Mexican Bean Beetle (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), Nontarget Arthropods, and Crop Performance in Southwestern Virginia Snap Beans
Thiamethoxam is a neonicotinoid insecticide commonly applied directly to the seeds (seed-treatment) of commercial snap beans, Phaseolus vulgaris L. While previous studies have examined target and nontarget effects of thiamethoxam seed-treatments in snap beans and other crops, to our knowledge, none have been conducted in agroecosystems predominated by the pest Mexican bean beetle, Epilachna varivestis Mulsant (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). This study examined the effects of thiamethoxam-treated snap beans on E. varivestis, other arthropods, and crop performance in southwestern Virginia. Greenhouse experiments were conducted to evaluate residual toxicity of treated snap beans to E. varivestis and a key predator, Podisus maculiventris (Say) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). Treated plants were highly toxic to E. varivestis at 13 d, moderately toxic from 16 to 20 d, and minimally toxic at 24 d. P. maculiventris was unaffected by exposure to treated plants or by feeding on E. varivestis that consumed treated plants. Small plot field experiments in 2014 and 2015 showed no significant effects of thiamethoxam seed-treatments on E. varivestis densities, other arthropods, crop injury, or yield. In 2016, planting was delayed by persistent rain, resulting in early E. varivestis colonization. In this year, thiamethoxam-treated plants had significantly lower densities and feeding injury from E. varivestis, followed by significantly higher yields. Natural enemies were unaffected by seed-treatments in all field experiments. These experiments demonstrated that thiamethoxam seed-treatments provide control of E. varivestis when beetles infest fields within 2 to 3 wk after planting; but otherwise provide negligible advantages. Negative effects from thiamethoxam seed-treatments on nontarget arthropods appear minimal for snap beans in this region.