The effects of farmscaping on trophic interactions in a cucurbit agroecoystem

Monday, November 11, 2013
Exhibit Hall 4 (Austin Convention Center)
Sarah K. Barney , Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Jason M. Schmidt , Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Mark A. Williams , Horticulture, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
James D. Harwood , Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
The intensive use of high quantities of insecticides is the most common tactic for pest management in the United States despite its widely recognized non-target effects in ecosystems. Organic management schemes aim to limit chemical inputs thus, there is a need to adopt alternative management practices for pest control. The integration of conservation biological control is one important management approach that provides sustainable solutions to pests by relying on cultural practices that enhance farmscapes and promote natural pest control. This study was undertaken to characterize the effects of arthropod exclusion covers on pestiferous and beneficial predatory insects of melon crops in Central Kentucky. Row covers with various timing treatments (control treatment with no row covers applied, row covers removed at anthesis, and row covers removed at anthesis and replaced after pollination) were applied to melon fields. Arthropod sampling occurred twice per month throughout the growing season using suction and sticky trap samples. Acalymma vittatum (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) were the most abundant melon pest, with smaller populations of Diabrotica undecimpunctata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Although row cover treatments decreased the density of pestiferous beetles early in the season, their numbers increased over time and the covered plots had greater densities than uncovered plots during the last sampling period. Predatory insect populations were greatest in those plots with intermediate row cover usage. Row covers appear to have a mixture of effects on arthropod communities, and may at times enhance pest populations by reducing the effectiveness of biological control services.
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