In Florida the pepper weevil (Anthonomus eugenii)(PEW) is the major pest of peppers. This pest oviposits directly into the developing fruit or flower bud. Eggs hatch in a few days and larvae bore into the heart of the fruit where they feed and pupate. Infected pepper fruit abscise from the plant and drop to the ground. Once established in a field PEW are difficult to control. Growers in South Florida lose an average of 15% of their pepper fruit annually to this pest. A multi-tactic management program was initiated that used parasitoids of the PEW larvae (Catolaccus hunteri) and destroyed as much nightshade as possible in and around each farm. Nightshade weeds are the only known alternate host for PEW in Florida. Parasitoid releases were concentrated in the summer (fallow period in Florida) on nightshade weeds that were still present on the farms. Catolaccus were recovered from an average of 33.4% of PEW infected nightshade berries. Georeferencing was used to track the movement of PEW and the locations of nightshade on and between farms to understand the spatial and temporal dynamics between PEW and its hosts. At the end of a season PEW adults would move towards areas of nightshade concentrations, but during the season they would move towards other areas of pepper production. Using the integrated approach of biological and cultural controls reduced historic PEW population infestations by 98%, 65% and 80% at the three trial (farm) sites.
Species 1: Coleoptera Curculionidae Anthonomus eugenii (pepper weevil)
Species 2: Hymenoptera Pteromalidae Catolaccus hunteri
Keywords: nightshade, georeferencing
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