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Evaluation of Living and Synthetic Mulches in Zucchini for Control of Homopteran Pests

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EVALUATION OF LIVING AND SYNTH ETIC MULCHES IN ZUCCHINI FOR CONTROL OF HOMOPTERAN PESTS By DANIEL L. FRANK A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2004

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Copyright 2004 by Daniel L. Frank

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank my major professor, Dr. Oscar Liburd, for giving me the opportunity to acquire my masters degree at the University of Florida. His support and guidance throughout this project were critical for its completion. I am grateful to everyone working in the Fruit and Vegetable IPM lab for their help and support during my field seasons. I thank Dr. Susan Webb for the use of her lab and equipment, and for the critical review of this thesis. I thank Dr. Frank Slansky for his helpful ideas, and the critical review of this thesis. I am grateful to Scott Taylor and the Plant Science Research and Education Unit for their help in the design and maintenance of my research plots. I thank Alejandro Arvalo for his statistical help. I thank Dr. Cerruti Hooks for his help and guidance during the course of this research. I am grateful to Mike Miller for his help with ELISA testing. Above all, I thank my family for all their encouragement and inspiration. iii

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TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iii LIST OF TABLES.............................................................................................................vi LIST OF FIGURES..........................................................................................................vii ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................viii CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.............................................................................................5 Silverleaf Whiteflies.....................................................................................................5 Biology and Behavior............................................................................................6 Monitoring.............................................................................................................7 Aphids...........................................................................................................................7 Biology and Behavior............................................................................................8 Monitoring.............................................................................................................9 Management of Whiteflies and Aphids........................................................................9 Synthetic Mulch...................................................................................................10 Living Mulch.......................................................................................................11 Impact on Yield...................................................................................................12 3 EFFECTS OF LIVING AND SYNTHETIC MULCH ON THE POPULATION DYNAMICS OF HOMOPTERAN PESTS, THEIR ASSOCIATED NATURAL ENEMIES, AND INSECT-TRANSMITTED PLANT IMPAIRMENTS.................14 Methods......................................................................................................................15 Field Trials...........................................................................................................15 Trap sampling......................................................................................................16 Foliar Sampling...................................................................................................17 Physiological Disorder Evaluation......................................................................18 Disease Identification..........................................................................................18 Statistical Analysis..............................................................................................18 iv

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Results.........................................................................................................................19 Trap Sampling.....................................................................................................19 Foliar Sampling...................................................................................................20 Physiological Disorder Evaluation......................................................................21 Disease Identification..........................................................................................21 Discussion...................................................................................................................22 4 IMPACT OF LIVING AND SYNTHETIC MULCHES ON ZUCCHINI PLANT SIZE AND MARKETABLE YIELD.........................................................................39 Methods......................................................................................................................40 Field Trials...........................................................................................................40 Plant Size Sampling.............................................................................................41 Yield Sampling....................................................................................................41 Statistical Analysis..............................................................................................41 Results.........................................................................................................................42 Plant Size Sampling.............................................................................................42 Yield Sampling....................................................................................................42 Discussion...................................................................................................................43 5 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS.........................................................................49 LIST OF REFERENCES...................................................................................................53 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................60 v

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LIST OF TABLES Table page 3-1. Mean number of adult whiteflies per YS trap in Citra, FL........................................25 3-2. Mean number of alate aphids per pan-trap in Citra, FL............................................26 3-3. Mean number of aphids and whiteflies per zucchini leaf in Citra, FL (2002)..........27 3-4. Mean number of aphids and whiteflies per zucchini leaf in Citra, FL (2003)..........28 3-5. Mean number of immature whiteflies per leaf in Citra, FL.......................................29 3-6. Mean number of natural enemies per leaf in Citra, FL.............................................30 3-7. Mean silverleaf score per treatment in Citra, FL.......................................................31 4-1. Mean yield weight (kg) of zucchini in Citra, FL.......................................................46 vi

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LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3-1. Mean number of alate aphids per pan-trap type in Citra, FL (2003).........................32 3-2. Percentage of total pest individuals sampled in Citra, FL categorized by taxon (2002)........................................................................................................................33 3-3. Percentage of total pest individuals sampled in Citra, FL categorized by taxon (2003)........................................................................................................................34 3-4. Populations of immature whiteflies on zucchini plant strata in Citra, FL (2002).....35 3-5. Populations of immature whiteflies on zucchini plant strata in Citra, FL (2003).....36 3-6. Percentage of total natural enemies sampled in Citra, FL categorized by order (2002)........................................................................................................................37 3-7. Percentage of total natural enemies sampled in Citra, FL categorized by order (2003)........................................................................................................................38 4-1. Mean plant width (cm) of zucchini in Citra, FL (2003)............................................47 4-2. Mean plant height (cm) of zucchini in Citra, FL (2003)...........................................48 vii

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Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science EVALUATION OF LIVING AND SYNTHETIC MULCHES IN ZUCCHINI FOR CONTROL OF HOMOPTERAN PESTS By Daniel L. Frank December 2004 Chair: Oscar Liburd Major Department: Entomology and Nematology Living and synthetic mulches were evaluated for control of the silverleaf whitefly (Bemisia argentifolii Bellows and Perring) and aphids in zucchini. Two living mulches, buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) and white clover (Trifolium repens L.); and two synthetic mulches (reflective and white) were evaluated during fall 2002 and fall 2003. Results from trap and foliar counts showed that reflective and buckwheat mulches consistently had fewer incidences of adult whiteflies and aphids compared with the other mulch treatments evaluated, including bare ground (control). In 2003, a significant increase in the diversity of natural enemies was seen throughout all treatments. Living mulch treatments had higher natural-enemy populations than did the synthetic mulch and bare-ground treatments. Diversity of natural enemies did not differ in synthetic mulch vs. bare-ground treatments. The effectiveness of mulches for controlling immature whitefly numbers, and the incidence of squash silverleaf disorder were inconsistent between years. Although viii

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squash silverleaf disorder has been known to reduce yields, it did not appear to be a major factor in this study. Additional data taken at the end of the 2003 season revealed that two viral strains (PRSV-W and WMV-2) were present in the field. However, visual symptoms associated with these viral diseases did not occur until the final weeks of harvest, and thus had little effect on zucchini yield. Although white mulch consistently had higher adult whitefly and aphid populations than other mulch treatments, there were no significant differences between white and reflective mulch when comparing yield. Overall, synthetic mulches had significantly higher yields than living mulch and bare ground. The deleterious effects of competition from the living mulches on zucchini yield outweighed any positive benefits they may have had on reducing aphid and whitefly pest populations. ix

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Cucurbits are a major vegetable crop grown in Florida. During the 2002-03 field season, Florida growers harvested over 45,000 acres of cucurbits valued at over $170 million. Despite these numbers, rising costs associated with preventing insect related problems, combined with cheaper imports from Mexico have threatened the production and value of many Florida cucurbits. Currently, crop-plant physiological disorders and insect-transmitted diseases have become serious problems for many growers around the state. One of the most important plant physiological disorders in cucurbits is squash silverleaf (SSL) disorder. SSL is associated with the feeding of immature whiteflies (Bemisia argentifolii Bellows and Perring) and is characterized by silvering of the adaxial leaf surface and blanching of fruit (Yokomi et al. 1990, Costa et al. 1993, Jimenez et al. 1995). Variations in the feeding densities of immature whiteflies have been shown to affect the severity of SSL symptoms, which can develop in as little as 14 days (Yokomi et al. 1990, Schuster et al. 1991, Costa et al. 1993). It has been estimated that homopteran pests spread over 90% of insect-borne diseases of plants (Eastop 1977). The most important vectors of plant viruses include the aphids, which have been known to transmit 275 different viral disorders (Nault 1997). Crops in the Cucurbitaceae are highly susceptible to several of these insect-transmitted viruses. Important viruses affecting cucurbits in Florida include zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV), watermelon mosaic virus-2 (WMV-2), cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), 1

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2 and papaya ringspot virus-watermelon strain (PRSV-W) (Adlerz 1978, Provvidenti et al. 1984, Purcifull et al. 1988). Symptoms of these viruses include pronounced reduction in growth; the occurrence of yellowing, mosaic, and blistering of leaves; and reduced fruit set (Demski and Chalkley 1974, Lisa et al. 1981). In addition, the fruits harvested from infected plants are often malformed and distorted, rendering them unmarketable (Blua and Perring 1989). Several aphid species have been associated with transmitting these viruses in a stylet-borne non-persistent manner (Coudriet 1962, Lisa et al. 1981, Adlerz 1987, Castle et al. 1992). Stylet-borne viruses are characterized by having no latent period within the vector, and have an infectivity of a few hours or days. This, coupled with the rapid acquisition and inoculation of the virus during brief test probes into the plant epidermis, can allow rapid spread throughout a given area. In addition to transmitting viruses and causing plant disorders, heavy infestations of whiteflies and aphids generally cause a reduction in plant vigor (Barlow et al. 1977, Buntin et al. 1993). The excretion of honeydew by these insects can serve as an important medium for promoting growth of sooty mold fungi (Capnodium spp.), which can further reduce plant vigor and yield (Byrne and Miller 1990, Palumbo et al. 2000). The unpredictability and severity of these cucurbit pests and associated diseases in conjunction with injury from secondary pests makes efficient management strategies necessary in a cucurbit-production system. Currently, pesticides play a major role in the pest management of cucurbits. However, this control strategy can become problematic. For instance, frequent use of insecticides leads to increased production costs, and increases potential for resistance. In

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3 addition, a heightened awareness of the harmful effects of pesticides to non target organisms and the environment have led many to search for alternative methods for pest control. The overall goal of my research was to investigate pest management tactics that would suppress the activity of homopteran pests. Our hypothesis was that the use of living and synthetic (reflective) mulches would suppress the activity of whiteflies and aphids, thus reducing viral infection and the occurrence of plant disorders. Developing cultural management practices for pest control is an important way to establish ecologically friendly measures to provide growers with sustainable approaches to pest management. Because of the importance of cucurbit sales in Florida (and other areas of the United States and the world) and the limitations of traditional methods for management of homopteran pests, additional management strategies are needed that can serve as stand-alone practices or be used in conjunction with other pest-management approaches. Cucurbits are generally produced in Florida for spring, early summer, and fall markets. Different varieties can be planted throughout the year, depending on climatic conditions, with production practices varying for each environmental situation. The adaptability and assortment of cucurbits grown in Florida has created a diverse market for growers to compete. Cucurbits in Florida are grown on raised beds covered with synthetic mulches. Traditionally, farmers have used white, or white on black mulches in the fall; and black in the winter and spring. Reflective and living mulches have also been used in cucurbit production (Hooks et al. 1998, Summers and Stapleton 2002). Soil moisture is maintained through several irrigation practices that can include overhead, drip, seepage,

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4 or furrow. Fertilizers are generally incorporated into the bed before mulching, with supplements applied through irrigation tubes or a liquid-fertilizer injection wheel. Management of diseases, weeds, and insects is accomplished by a variety of chemicals. Plant pollination is another important factor in cucurbit production. Many insects can pollinate cucurbit plants, but it is generally recommended that honeybee hives be placed near cucurbit fields. One hive per 2 acres is recommended to facilitate adequate pollination of plants (Maynard et al. 2003).

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CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW The first step in any IPM program is to understand the biology and behavior of the pest species involved. Once an understanding of these concepts is developed, efficient methods for monitoring can be established. The development of pest management tactics requires the collection of repeated systematic data that is unbiased, and gives an adequate picture of the field dynamics. Without this information, it is uncertain as to which tactic should be incorporated into the program, so that the most effective management practices are attained. Silverleaf Whiteflies The silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia argentifolii, occurs in many tropical and subtropical habitats as well as greenhouses. Research has shown that direct feeding pressure and deposition of honeydew by adult whitefly populations can cause significant damage and economic loss to a variety of cultivars (Van Lenteren and Noldus 1990, Perring et al. 1993). However, the silverleaf whiteflys potential as a vector for virus, and its ability to induce plant impairments have gained it particular attention (Costa and Brown 1990, Yokomi et al. 1990, Schuster et al. 1991, Polston and Anderson 1997). One important disorder, squash silverleaf disorder (SSL), is characterized by the silvering of the adaxial leaf surface of cucurbit plants. This disorder is typically seen in late summer and fall crops, and can cause substantial economic losses to growers. 5

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6 Biology and Behavior The silverleaf whitefly is primarily polyphagous and colonizes predominantly annual, herbaceous plants (Brown et al. 1995). There are four nymphal instars that characterize whitefly development from egg to pupae. The first nymphal instars are usually referred to as crawlers, and are capable of limited movement while the second, third, and fourth instars are immobile. Completion of all four instars last approximately 17-21 days under optimum conditions. Females are generally larger than males throughout all instars (Tsai and Wang 1996). The nymphal stage of the whitefly life cycle can induce a variety of phytotoxic disorders. In squash, feeding by as few as two to three nymphs per plant can induce SSL disorder (Costa et al. 1993). The silvering of leaves is believed to be a plant response to feeding, and its severity varies directly with the number of feeding immatures (Yokomi et al. 1990, Schuster et al. 1991, Costa et al. 1993, Jimenez et al. 1993). Air spaces between the epidermis and palisade cells of leaves cause the characteristic silvered color. This change in color, chlorophyll content, and light reflectance reduces the photosynthetic ability of the plant species (Burger et al. 1988, Jimenez et al. 1995). It has been estimated that photosynthesis can be reduced by up to 30% in severe cases (Burger et al. 1988, Cardoza et al. 2000). After development through the nymphal and pupal stages, adult whiteflies emerge. Movement of adults for feeding and oviposition occur on the shaded abaxial surface of suitable host leaves (Simmons 1994). Females live between 10 to 24 days, and can lay anywhere from 66 to 300 eggs (Tsai and Wang 1996). They prefer to oviposite on young leaves, which creates a stratification of different life stages as the host crop plant grows (Gould and Naranjo 1999). Similarly, factors such as leaf shape, color, and nitrogen content can also affect ovipositional preference (Mound 1962, Butler et al. 1986, Bentz et

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7 al. 1995). Although wind is the main mechanism for dispersal over long and short distances, unintentional transport by people can occur (Blackmer and Byrne 1993, Brown et al. 1995). Monitoring Immature whiteflies spend a prominent amount of their time in an immobile feeding stage. Monitoring for immatures has involved removal of disks from selected leaves. These leaf disks are then examined under a microscope for identification of nymphal stages and/or species (Hook et al. 1998, Gould and Naranjo 1999). Whitefly adults respond strongly to visual cues in their environment. For instance, adult whiteflies have a strong attraction to wavelengths of light falling in the yellow spectra of the visible color range (Mound 1962). Yellow sticky traps have been used effectively in many crop systems for monitoring whiteflies. In addition to monitoring via traps, in-situ counts may also be an efficient way to track whitefly distribution between selected plots. Aphids Aphids can be found on a variety of host plants throughout the world. Their ability to transmit numerous plant viruses coupled with their high reproductive rates have qualified them as an important pest in agricultural systems. Although feeding by aphids can reduce plant vigor and yield (Barlow et al. 1977, Breen and Teetes 1986), the non-persistent transmission of stylet-borne viruses is a more significant problem to growers worldwide. Additionally, viruses are typically transmitted by transient alate species creating further management difficulties (Broadbent et al. 1950, Swenson 1968). Other factors, such as their small size and highly polymorphic nature, can make identification of problematic aphid species difficult.

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8 Biology and Behavior The life cycle of many aphid species can become rather complex. Variations in hosts, reproduction, biology, and activity can occur within the annual cycle of a single species (Kring 1959). Aphids can typically be grouped as monoecious (nonhost-alternating), or heteroecious (host alternating). Monoecious species require only one or a few related host plant species while heteroecious species generally require two or more different species of plants in separate families to complete their lifecycle. Reproduction is accomplished through sexual (holocyclic) and/or parthenogenetic (anholocyclic) forms. In warm climates, sexual forms tend not to be as important as in colder regions (Miyazaki 1987). Females that reproduce parthenogenetically are viviparous, and can produce a new generation in as little as a week. With a short reproductive and developmental time, numerous generations are possible within one production season. Dispersal is accomplished by alate or winged morphs while apterous or wingless aphids typically remain restricted to the plant surface. During flight, alate aphids respond strongly to visual stimuli and locate potential host plants by contrasting the soil background with plant foliage (Kring 1972, Liburd et al. 1998). Aphids determine host suitability after landing and making brief, shallow test probes with their stylets on potential host plants. If the plant is not suitable, the aphid will move to another potential host repeating the process. This behavior is especially important since transmission of stylet-borne viruses can occur from these test probes before aphid management is implemented (Nault 1997). Aphids do not have chemosensory organs on the labium or tips of the mandibular or maxillary stylets. Ingestion of plant fluids to the precibarium where chemosensilla are

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9 located is required for host recognition. If the ingested fluids do not induce phagostimulation, extravasation of fluids back through the precibarium and maxillary food canal occurs. It is within the maxillary food canal where it is believed that the main attachment of these potyviruses, the most important group of aphid-transmitted viruses, occurs and where transmission to hosts can take place (Nault 1997). Additionally, these viruses can reach epidemic proportions as a result of secondary spread. Monitoring Aphids generally respond to two different wavelengths of light. Once alate aphids have finished development of wings, they become strongly attracted to shortwave or ultraviolet light. This attraction induces the aphid to fly toward the sky in either a high level migratory flight, which can last from one to several hours, or a low level non-migratory flight over short distances (Kring 1972). Since a correlation can generally be seen between the number of alate aphids trapped and the percentage of virus infection for a particular crop (Zitter and Simons 1980), water pan-traps have been used as an effective monitoring tool (Heathcote 1957, Adlerz 1987). Pan-traps allow for an efficient means to track aphid activity within a particular field. High wavelengths of light, such as yellow and green, tend to stimulate alighting and settling behavior (Kring 1967, Webb et al. 1994). In general, plants that show obvious yellowing symptoms will have the greater aphid populations (Zitter and Simons 1980). For this reason, in-situ counts can be an effective way to monitor the population dynamics that can exist between plants within a given area. Management of Whiteflies and Aphids Complications in management can arise from a combination of factors involved in the reproductive rates of whitefly and aphid species. These factors can include food

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10 quality, host plant species, natural enemies, and temperature. Although many of these factors are uncontrollable by growers, food quality can be regulated to some extent by the application of fertilizer and/or other chemicals. Augmentative releases of certain natural enemies can also be accomplished with some degree of efficiency. Economic losses via virus or plant disorders have forced growers to use seedlings crossprotected with mild virus strains for resistance (Cho et al. 1992). However, the highly variable nature of these virus strains (Lisa and Lecoq 1984) and the fact that homopteran pests can injure plants in several ways (Jackson et. al 2000) makes the success of using cross-protection uncertain in infected areas. Furthermore, cucurbit plantings may be prone to attack by several viral diseases within the same planting period, making it difficult to develop varieties that are resistant to all of these strains (Purcifull et al. 1988). Another problem is that plants developed to be physically resistant to a specific insect pest may also have a detrimental impact on its associated parasitoid by disrupting their searching behavior or entrapping them (Gruenhagen and Perring 1999), subsequently reducing natural control of insect pests. Synthetic Mulch Synthetic mulches (i.e., polyethylene films) are an efficient means for reducing many crop pests (Costa et al. 1994, Csizinszky et al. 1997, Smith et al. 2000). In general, they regulate soil temperature and can increase the speed of above ground plant growth (Schalk et al. 1979, Decoteau et al. 1989), while also affecting the flight pattern and behavior of insect pest species (Zitter and Simons 1980, Costa and Robb 1999). This ability to attract or repel insects can be important in reducing the incidence and severity of pest species and any associated diseases. Utilization of reflective mulches resulted in marked decreases in whitefly (Csizinszky et al. 1995) and aphid (Alderz and Everett

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11 1968, Wolfenbarger and Moore 1968) populations, and has been used as an alternative to conventional pesticides and white or black synthetic mulches. Other color mulches such as yellow and red have attracted aphids and whiteflies, respectively, in the past (Wolfenbarger and Moore 1968, Csizinszky et al. 1995). However, disposal of synthetic mulches following crop termination can be problematic and may interfere with routine farming practices such as cultivation. Additionally, a reduction in the effectiveness in synthetic mulches can occur as the area of foliage increases throughout the growing season. One alternative to synthetic mulch is the use of water-soluble biodegradable silver spray mulch (Liburd et al. 1998). However, weathering, dust, and soil accumulation can decrease the effectiveness and make biodegradable mulches more attractive to aphids (Summers et al. 1995). Living Mulch Living mulch (diversified crops) increases diversity and the overall sustainability of many cropping systems. They are cover crops grown within a marketable cash crop to reduce erosion, enhance fertility, improve soil quality, and suppress weeds while also reducing the incidence and severity of pest insects. Root (1973) suggested two hypotheses as to why herbivore loads are reduced in these diverse crop habitats. The resource concentration hypothesis predicts that herbivores will more readily find, reproduce, and remain in monoculture environments of their host plants because resources are more localized and habitable within these areas. His other hypothesis theorized that predators and parasitoids are more effective in floristically diverse ecosystems because of the availability of greater and more diverse food resources and refuge.

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12 Living mulches can also be thought of as a protection crop if planted within or around a crop field. These companion crops can provide additional feeding sites for potential infectious insects, reducing the spread of non-persistent viruses and disorders throughout the cash crop. Toba et al. (1977) demonstrated that a protection crop of wheat, Triticum aestivum, delayed the frequency and severity of aphid transmitted non-persistent viruses in cantaloupe. In a similar study, Bernays (1999) showed that the whitefly, Bemisia tabaci Gennadius, spent less time on plants exposed to environments containing multiple plant species. These whiteflies also demonstrated greater levels of restlessness compared to whiteflies in monoculture environments, which led Bernays to suggest that whitefly movement within field situations could be limited in homogenous environments. Several studies using living mulch have shown that fewer whiteflies (Hooks et al. 1998), aphids (Smith 1969, Kloen and Altieri 1990, Costello and Altieri 1995, Hooks et al. 1998), and occurrences of insect transmitted diseases (Power 1987, Hussein and Samad 1993, Hooks et al. 1998) occur in habitats with diversified crops compared with monoculture crops. Hooks et al. (1998) planted zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) between rows containing buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) and yellow mustard (Sinapsis alba), and found that densities of A. gossypii and B. argentifolii and the conveyance of aphid-transmitted diseases and SSL disorder on zucchini were reduced in these living mulch treatments when compared to monoculture plantings. Impact on Yield Despite the effectiveness of standard white mulch for production practices, studies conducted by Adlerz and Everett (1968) have shown that white polyethylene can increase the number of aphids trapped when compared to bare ground. This can have negative

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13 impacts to future yield if the pressures of aphid-borne viruses are high within a field. In addition, the loss in efficiency of synthetic mulches due to weathering and plant concealment have led some to look at alternative mulching systems for cucurbits (Hooks et al. 1998). Unfortunately, the potential gain in pest suppression by living mulches may be offset by delayed development and yield reduction from competition between the crop and mulch (Andow 1986). It is my primary goal to make valid comparisons between living and synthetic mulching systems. By focusing attention on what works more effectively, we can develop new strategies for pest management suppression, which will increase yields, lower production costs, and further our understanding of the rationale behind these pest responses. In addition, by decreasing the amount of chemicals used, we can develop ecologically sustainable approaches to pest management.

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CHAPTER 3 EFFECTS OF LIVING AND SYNTHETIC MULCH ON THE POPULATION DYNAMICS OF HOMOPTERAN PESTS, THEIR ASSOCIATED NATURAL ENEMIES, AND INSECT-TRANSMITTED PLANT IMPAIRMENTS Cucurbits are an important crop in Florida with a farm gate value estimated at over $170 million annually. Currently, production is threatened due to crop plant physiological disorders and insect-transmitted diseases associated with whiteflies and aphids. Control of these key pests has involved the use of several insecticide applications throughout the growing season. However, due to the variable nature of these pests, and problems associated with resistance to insecticides, the management of whiteflies and aphids has become a major problem for growers throughout the world. Additionally, frequent insecticide use has negative impacts on the environment and non-target organisms such as natural enemies. The use of mulches has successfully reduced population densities of whiteflies and aphids, while also delaying the onset and spread of associated insect-borne diseases. Studies have shown that reflective (synthetic) mulch offers significant protection from these pests compared to bare ground plantings (Brown et al. 1993, Summers et al. 1995, Summers and Stapleton 2002). In addition, studies conducted by Hooks et al. (1998) have shown that living mulches are an effective means for reducing multiple pest complexes and the incidence of associated diseases compared with bare ground. However, there is debate as to which mulching system (i.e., reflective or living mulches) offers the best management potential. A better understanding of pest responses to these 14

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15 systems will help develop new and effective approaches that can be integrated with current management practices. A number of predators and parasitoids of whiteflies and aphids are known. However, little information is available on how living and synthetic mulches affect insect natural enemies in zucchini crops. To maintain a successful IPM program in cucurbit production, it is essential to know how mulches affect natural enemies that may regulate whitefly and aphid populations. In addition, understanding which natural enemies are present opens the door for future research to be conducted on the efficiency of these insects for control of zucchini pests, and prevents unnecessary efforts to introduce natural enemies that are already present. Discovering which mulching system offers the best habitat for these beneficials could help shape production practices in the future. Specific objectives for this research were to investigate and compare the effects of reflective (synthetic) and living mulch on the population dynamics of homopteran pests, their associated natural enemies, and insect transmitted plant impairments. In addition, I wanted to investigate the advantages of using living and reflective mulch over the standard (bare ground or white) mulching systems. Field trials were conducted using standard production procedures. Studies were run during the fall growing season because the incidence and severity of both aphids and whiteflies are high at this time, and their effects could be easily examined. Methods Field Trials Field research was conducted at the University of Florida, Plant Science Research and Education Unit located in Citra, Florida. Zucchini, Cucurbita pepo L., cv. Ambassador, were planted on raised beds spaced 1.2 m apart. Zucchini were planted

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16 from seed and later thinned to approximately 1 meter between plants. Mulches used during these studies included two synthetic mulches (white and reflective), two living mulches (buckwheat and white clover), and a bare ground control. Buckwheat, Fagopyrum esculentum Moench, and white clover, Trifolium repens L., mulches were seeded by hand. In 2002, individual plot size was 15 X 14 m and sown with 8 rows. Living mulches were planted after zucchini seeding on top of rows. In 2003 individual plot size was reduced to 14 X 12 m and sown with 7 rows. Living mulches were seeded 1 week before zucchini planting between rows. Treatments were replicated four times in a randomized complete block design with blocks spaced 15 m apart. Two techniques were used to sample whitefly and aphid adults, 1) traps and 2) sampling the foliage. Trap sampling Adult whiteflies were monitored using unbaited Pherocon AM traps (Yellow Sticky, YS) placed within interior zucchini rows. Trap heights were adjusted relative to the middle of the plant to improve monitoring efficiency. Each treatment plot contained a total of three YS traps. One trap was placed in the center of the treatment plot, and two others at opposite ends of the treatment plot forming a diagonal line. All YS traps were placed in the field 2 weeks after zucchini planting. YS traps were left in the field for a 24-hour duration once per week until final harvest. Alate aphids were monitored using blue water pan-traps (Packer Ware bowls, Gainesville, FL). Pan-traps had a diameter of 15.5 cm and contained approximately 250 mL of soapy water. Traps were placed at mid-plant height within interior zucchini rows. Three water pan-traps were used per plot. Traps were placed in the field 2 weeks after zucchini planting. The arrangement of the water pan-traps and the time period in which

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17 they were exposed in the treatment plots were similar to YS traps. In 2003, clear water pan-traps (Pioneer/Tri-State Plastics Inc., Dickson, KY) were used in addition to blue pan-traps. Clear pan-traps were square with a diameter of 15.5 cm. One clear water pan-trap was placed in the center of each plot, and treated in a similar manner as the blue pan-traps. Foliar Sampling Nine plants located on outside rows of each plot were randomly selected for counting adult whiteflies and aphids (apterae and alate). Zucchini plants within the outside rows of plots were chosen, so that any damage that occurred from repeated sampling would be restricted, and not interfere with yield data taken from inside rows. Pest sampling was initiated 4 weeks after planting, and conducted weekly until final harvest. One leaf was sampled per zucchini plant, which was partitioned according to plant stratum (upper n=3; medium n=3, and lower n=3 leaves) allowing a total of nine leaves sampled per plot (36 leaves/treatment). If aphid densities were high ( 100 per leaf), counts were taken from half of the leaf and used to estimate the number on the whole leaf. All whitefly adults, aphids, aphid mummies, and other pest species encountered on the leaf surfaces were recorded. To estimate the number of whitefly nymphs, 1-inch diameter circular leaf disks were removed using a cork borer from 9 leaves (selected from foliar counts). Leaves were stored in plastic bags, and transported to the laboratory within an ice chest. Leaf disks were removed from one side of a leaf halfway between the leaf tip and petiole, and halfway between the mid-vein and leaf edge (Gould and Naranjo 1999). Leaf disks were

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18 removed in the Fruit and Vegetable IPM laboratory, and examined under a 40x-dissecting microscope. All whitefly nymphs encountered on the leaf surfaces were recorded. Natural enemies were sampled using in-situ counts. Leaves from 6 plants located in the outside rows of each plot were randomly selected. In 2002, nine leaves from each plant were randomly selected, and in 2003 six leaves from each plant were randomly selected for visual identification of beneficial arthropods. Sampling was initiated 4 weeks after planting, and conducted weekly until final harvest. Physiological Disorder Evaluation Visual observations for symptoms of squash silverleaf disorder were recorded weekly from ten randomly selected zucchini plants within the interior rows of each treatment plot. The percentage of plants displaying visual symptoms of silverleaf (silvering on adaxial leaf surface) was taken until final harvest. Silverleaf symptoms were rated on the new leaf growth, with the severity rated on a scale of 0-5 as indicated by Paris et al. (1987). Disease Identification After harvest of 2003, leaves from four randomly selected plants exhibiting virus infection were collected from each plot, and taken to the University of Florida, Vegetable Entomology Laboratory for disease identification. Each sample was tested for 8 viral diseases (CMV, PRSV-W, SMV, TSV, TSWV, WLMV, WMV-2, ZYMV), using ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) procedures specific for each virus. All plates containing samples were marked for visual positives and read on an ELISA plate reader. Statistical Analysis Data from arthropod counts and physiological disorder sampling were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). All data were square root

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19 transformed, and means separated with least significant differences (LSD) to show treatment differences. Differences were considered significant when P 0.05. Results Trap Sampling In 2002, YS traps within plots containing white mulch had significantly more whitefly adults, Bemisia argentifolii, than the bare ground, reflective, clover and buckwheat treatments (Table 3-1). Traps within buckwheat mulch had significantly fewer adult whitefly populations compared with white, reflective, and bare ground treatments, but similar numbers to clover mulch. Similarly in 2003, YS traps within buckwheat mulch had significantly fewer adult whiteflies than white, clover, and bare ground with the exception of reflective mulch (Table 3-1). Throughout the 2003 season traps within reflective mulch had significantly fewer whitefly adults compared with all other treatments. During 2002, blue pan-traps within white mulch treatments caught significantly more alate aphids compared with each of the other treatments, which did not differ significantly (Table 3-2). Similarly in 2003, more alate aphids were caught over white mulch compared with all other treatments (Table 3-2). Unlike in 2002, pan-traps within reflective mulch had significantly fewer alate aphids than white, buckwheat, and clover but was borderline insignificant with the bare ground treatment. Similarly, the number of alate aphids trapped in clear pan-traps was also significantly less in reflective than white, bare ground, and clover but was similar to the buckwheat mulch treatment (Table 3-2). In 2003, the total number of alate aphids captured in clear pan-traps compared with the number captured in blue pan-traps was not significantly different (F =3.63, df = 1,470, P = 0.0573). However, when comparing these traps by treatment, significant differences

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20 were found between trap types in bare ground using LSD test pairwise comparison (t = -2.76, Pr > | t | = 0.0060) (Figure 3-1). Foliar Sampling In 2002, plants within white mulch had significantly more adult whiteflies than bare ground, buckwheat, and clover but a similar number to reflective mulch (Table 3-3). The number of apterous aphids did not differ significantly between treatments (Table 3-3). Additionally, the number of alate aphids did not differ significantly between treatments (Table 3-3). In 2003, plants grown on bare ground had significantly higher numbers of adult whiteflies than white, reflective, and buckwheat but similar numbers to clover mulch (Table 3-4). Significantly fewer apterous aphids were recorded on plants within reflective mulch than white, clover, and bare ground but similar numbers to buckwheat mulch (Table 3-4). Similarly, significantly fewer alate aphids were recorded on plants in reflective mulch compared with all other treatments (Table 3-4). Data collected from both field seasons reveal that aphids and whiteflies were the dominant pests recorded in the field. In 2002 whiteflies comprised the majority of pest individuals sampled (Figure 3-2), while in 2003, aphids comprised the majority of pest individuals (Figure 3-3). In addition, leaf-mining flies were a minor pest in 2003, but were never recorded in 2002 (Figure 3-2 and 3-3). In 2002, there were no significant differences in the number of immature whiteflies found between treatments (Table 3-5). In 2003, plants grown on white mulch had significantly higher numbers of immature whiteflies than reflective, clover, and bare ground but similar numbers to buckwheat mulch (Table 3-5). Plant strata played an important role in feeding location of immature whiteflies. Significantly more immature

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21 whiteflies were recorded on the lower plant stratum of zucchini plants compared with the middle or top plant strata for all treatments in 2002 (Figure 3-4) and 2003 (Figure 3-5). In 2002, there were no significant differences in the number of natural enemies found between treatments (Table 3-6). In 2003, clover mulch had significantly higher numbers of natural enemies than white, reflective, and bare ground but similar numbers to buckwheat mulch (Table 3-6). Data collected from both field seasons show that arthropods in the order Araneae were the dominant natural enemy (Figure 3-6 and 3-7). These representations of the percentage of natural enemies found within the field revealed significantly more arthropod diversity in 2003. Physiological Disorder Evaluation In 2002, significantly more symptoms of squash silverleaf disorder were recorded in plants grown on bare ground than white, clover, and reflective but similar numbers to buckwheat mulch (Table 3-7). Throughout the season plants on reflective mulch had significantly less severe symptoms of silverleaf than all other mulch treatments. Results in 2003 were different from those recorded in 2002. Plants on white mulch had significantly more severe symptoms of squash silverleaf disorder than all other treatments while plants on bare ground and clover mulch had significantly less symptoms (Table 3-7). Disease Identification Data taken at the end of the 2003 season revealed that two viruses, PRSV-W and WMV-2, were present in the field. ELISA tests found four cases of PRSV-W within plants on the bare ground and clover mulch treatments, and one case each in the white, reflective, and buckwheat mulch. Two cases of WMV-2 were found within plants on the bare ground treatments, and one case in the clover mulch.

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22 Discussion During the 2002-2003 field seasons, results from trap catches showed that plants grown on white mulch consistently had higher populations of adult whiteflies and aphids compared to the other mulch treatments including bare ground. These results are consistent with Adlerz and Everett (1968), who showed that white (polyethylene) mulches had higher populations of aphids than both reflective mulch and bare ground. However, it is unclear why whiteflies responded more strongly to white mulch since previous research has shown that they are attracted to yellow colors in the visible light spectra (Mound 1962). Foliar counts in 2002 showed that whitefly adults were significantly higher in plants grown on synthetic mulches compared to living mulches. However, in 2003 plants on reflective mulch had consistently fewer adult whiteflies and aphids (alate and apterous) compared to other treatments. Foliar counts also revealed that for both years buckwheat performed better than the clover mulch in repelling alate and apterous aphids. Overall, both trap and foliar counts showed that plants grown on reflective and buckwheat mulches consistently had fewer incidences of adult whiteflies and aphids compared with the other mulch treatments including bare ground. The effectiveness of mulches for controlling immature whitefly numbers, and the incidence of squash silverleaf disorder were inconsistent between years. This may have been due to the fact that whitefly adult and nymph populations were higher in 2002 than in 2003. Similarly, silverleaf severity was higher in 2002 compared with 2003. Overall, reflective mulch performed better at reducing nymphal whitefly populations, and had plants with significantly less incidence of squash silverleaf compared with white mulch.

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23 During 2002 and 2003 it was clear that the location of immature whiteflies was restricted to the lower plant strata for all treatments. These results are consistent with Simmons (1994) who saw 90 to 95% of Bemisia tabaci eggs and nymphs on the lower plant strata of various crops. Higher nitrogen content in older leaves (Bentz et al. 1995), or increased protection from pesticides, natural enemies, and environmental factors offered by leaves located on the lower plant strata (Chu et al. 1995, Liu and Stansly 1995), may have played a role in the location of nymphal whiteflies. Similarly, older zucchini leaves have less dense trichomes, which can allow for easier oviposition of eggs, and attachment by feeding immatures (Kishaba et al. 1992, Butler et al. 1986, McAuslane 1996). In either case, these results suggest that for the most efficient sampling of nymphal B. argentifolii populations in zucchini, counts should be taken on the lower plant strata. In 2003, a significant increase in the diversity of natural enemies was seen throughout all treatments. This may have been due to the fact that no insecticides were used throughout the entire field season. In 2002, two reduced-risk insecticides, Admire and Spinosad, were applied early to zucchini plants on two separate dates for control of whiteflies and cabbage looper, respectively. Additionally, results in 2003 clearly show that the living mulch treatments had higher natural enemy populations than the synthetic mulch and bare ground treatments. These results support the natural enemies hypothesis proposed by Root (1973) that increased plant diversity leads to increased natural enemy densities. However, there were no differences in the species diversity of natural enemies found between treatments (data not shown).

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24 In 2002, zucchini plants never exhibited visual symptoms associated with viral diseases. This may have been due in part to the low incidence of aphids seen within the field for that year. Despite high aphid numbers and the occurrences of two associated viral diseases in 2003, visual symptoms of WMV-2 and PRSV-W did not occur until the final weeks of harvest, and had little affect on plant growth and yield. Although white mulch had a greater incidence of pests, it had only one case of PRSV-W. Adlerz and Everett (1968) noted that although more aphids were caught over white mulch compared with reflective and bare ground, the incidence of viral diseases was significantly less than the bare ground. They believed that this occurred because one or more of the aphid species attracted to white mulch were not effective in virus transmission. Overall, bare ground and clover mulch treatments had more zucchini plants infected with viral diseases although the numbers were small. Despite limitations involved with field research (i.e., weather variation and fluctuating pest numbers), patterns were seen in arthropod responses to the different mulch treatments. Overall, results from this research will help to develop successful cultural management practices that establish ecologically friendly measures, which provide growers with sustainable approaches to pest management. In addition, these results can be used to design more extensive studies so that the precise components responsible for insect responses can be determined, and more effective IPM programs can be developed.

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25 Table 3-1. Mean number of adult whiteflies per YS trap in Citra, FL Mean SEM 2002 a 2003 b White 15.54 1.83 a 3.60 0.46 a Reflective 9.82 1.24 c 1.07 0.20 c Buckwheat 7.71 1.07 d 1.83 0.23 b Clover 10.29 .50 cd 4.60 0.74 a Control 13.37 1.80 b 4.25 0.62 a Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P = 0.05, LSD test) a F = 13.86; df = 4, 363; P < 0.0001 b F = 30.45; df = 4, 312; P < 0.0001

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26 Table 3-2. Mean number of alate aphids per pan-trap in Citra, FL Mean SEM 2002 a 2003 b 2003 c (clear pan-traps) White 1.47 0.19 a 0.78 0.10 a 1.21 0.35 a Reflective 0.27 0.06 b 0.17 0.05 c 0.17 0.08 c Buckwheat 0.48 0.09 b 0.44 0.09 b 0.29 0.11 bc Clover 0.50 0.09 b 0.43 0.08 b 0.83 0.30 ab Control 0.46 0.09 b 0.32 0.06 bc 0.88 0.23 a Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P = 0.05, LSD test) a F = 16.31; df = 4, 363; P < 0.0001 b F = 8.45; df = 4, 312; P < 0.0001 c F = 4.28, df = 4, 72; P = 0.0036

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27 Table 3-3. Mean number of aphids and whiteflies per zucchini leaf in Citra, FL (2002) Mean SEM Whiteflies (adult) a Aphids (apterous) b Aphids (alate) c White 12.60 2.33 a 0.54 0.31 0.21 0.07 Reflective 12.31 3.11 ab 0.15 0.10 0.22 0.07 Buckwheat 5.90 1.60 cd 0.63 0.38 0.13 0.05 Clover 5.65 1.71 d 0.24 0.16 0.36 0.08 Control 8.94 1.80 bc 0.54 0.22 0.25 0.08 Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P = 0.05, LSD test) a F = 7.68; df = 4, 312; P < 0.0001 b F = 1.48; df = 4, 312; P = 0.2070 c F = 2.26; df = 4, 312; P = 0.0627

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28 Table 3-4. Mean number of aphids and whiteflies per zucchini leaf in Citra, FL (2003) Mean SEM Whiteflies (adult) a Aphids (apterous) b Aphids (alate) c White 4.12 0.91 bc 9.00 3.40 ab 1.03 0.22 ab Reflective 2.70 0.68 c 2.12 0.87 c 0.06 0.04 c Buckwheat 2.85 0.76 c 4.67 1.68 bc 0.73 0.24 b Clover 4.61 0.85 ab 12.61 3.87 a 2.12 0.69 a Control 7.33 1.54 a 7.73 2.17 ab 1.97 0.52 ab Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P = 0.05, LSD test) a F = 4.44; df = 4, 142; P = 0.0021 b F = 3.87; df = 4, 142; P = 0.0051 c F = 7.67; df = 4, 142; P < 0.0001

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29 Table 3-5. Mean number of immature whiteflies per leaf in Citra, FL Mean SEM 2002 a 2003 b White 9.20 1.53 0.95 0.22 a Reflective 12.61 2.64 0.38 0.11 b Buckwheat 8.05 1.31 0.58 0.15 ab Clover 7.32 1.23 0.35 0.11 b Control 15.22 2.64 0.40 0.10 b Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P = 0.05, LSD test) a F = 1.68; df = 4, 1032; P = 0.1534 b F = 2.55; df = 4, 688; P = 0.0380

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30 Table 3-6. Mean number of natural enemies per leaf in Citra, FL Mean SEM 2002 a 2003 b White 0.04 0.02 0.33 0.04 bc Reflective 0.04 0.02 0.26 0.04 c Buckwheat 0.02 0.01 0.41 0.05 ab Clover 0.01 0.01 0.48 0.06 a Control 0.06 0.02 0.28 0.04 c Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P = 0.05, LSD test) a F = 1.54; df = 4, 1032; P = 0.1886 b F = 3.98; df = 4, 560; P = 0.0034

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31 Table 3-7. Mean silverleaf score per treatment in Citra, FL Mean SEM 2002 a 2003 b White 4.09 0.07 b 1.51 0.06 a Reflective 3.69 0.09 d 1.35 0.06 b Buckwheat 4.20 0.07 ab 1.10 0.05 c Clover 3.93 0.10 c 1.02 0.06 cd Control 4.39 0.07 a 0.97 0.06 d Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P = 0.05, LSD test) a F = 15.34; df = 4, 768; P < 0.0001 b F = 33.31; df = 4, 1152; P < 0.0001

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32 b a00.20.40.60.811.21.41.61.8White Reflective Buckwheat Clover Bare GroundTreatmentMean Number of Alate Aphids per Pan-trap (2003) Blue pan-traps Clear pan-traps Figure 3-1. Mean number of alate aphids per pan-trap type in Citra, FL (2003)

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33 6%85%9% Aphids Whiteflies Lepidopterans Figure 3-2. Percentage of total pest individuals sampled in Citra, FL categorized by taxon (2002)

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34 63%32%1%4% Aphids Whiteflies Lepidopterans Dipterans Figure 3-3. Percentage of total pest individuals sampled in Citra, FL categorized by taxon (2003)

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35 05101520253035404550White Reflective Buckwheat Clover Bare GroundTreatmentMean # of Immatures per Plant Strata (2002) Top Middle Bottom Figure 3-4. Populations of immature whiteflies on zucchini plant strata in Citra, FL (2002)

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36 00.511.522.53White Reflective Buckwheat CloverBare GroundTreatmentImmatures per Leaf Strata Top Middle Bottom Figure 3-5. Populations of immature whiteflies on zucchini plant strata in Citra, FL (2003)

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37 89%8%3% Araneae Coleoptera Hymenoptera Figure 3-6. Percentage of total natural enemies sampled in Citra, FL categorized by order (2002)

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38 39%29%12%8%7%3%2% Araneae Coleoptera Heteroptera Diptera Hymenoptera Neuroptera Other Figure 3-7. Percentage of total natural enemies sampled in Citra, FL categorized by order (2003)

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CHAPTER 4 IMPACT OF LIVING AND SYNTHETIC MULCHES ON ZUCCHINI PLANT SIZE AND MARKETABLE YIELD Florida is a major producer of fresh market cucurbits. Currently, production practices involve the use of mulches for control of crop pests, regulation of soil temperature, and weed management. Traditionally, farmers have used white, or white on black mulches in the fall and black in the winter and spring. Although there is no documentation of the use of reflective and living mulches in cucurbits in Florida, these two types of mulches have been used as an alternative to the traditional white or black synthetic mulches in other crops. It is established that living and synthetic mulches can affect the growth and marketable yield of many crops (Andow 1991, Csizinszky et al. 1997, Greer and Dole 2003). However, field studies to compare plant growth and yield in cucurbits are currently lacking. Synthetic and living mulches repel or attract aphids and whiteflies, and reduce the incidence of associated insect-borne diseases (Chapter 3). In addition, they regulate soil moisture, and temperature, which may lead to increases in above ground plant growth. Plant growth is an important factor in zucchini production because older seedlings are more able to compensate for damage from insect pest attack, and yields are usually not affected (Brewer et al. 1987). Vulnerable stages that limit plant yield occur early during plant development, which makes management of insect pests, and regulation of abiotic factors essential during this period. 39

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40 Although mulches are used effectively in a number of cropping systems, there may be potential drawbacks depending on the type of mulch chosen for cultural management. For instance, disposal of synthetic mulches following crop termination can be problematic and may interfere with routine farming practices such as cultivation. Additionally, a reduction in the effectiveness of synthetic mulches can occur as the area of foliage increases throughout the growing season (Adlerz and Everett 1968, Csizinszky et al. 1995). Alternatively, living mulches can become problematic because of delayed development and yield reduction from competition between the crop and mulch (Andow 1986). In addition, it is often difficult to choose the proper living mulch that will reduce pest levels, but not interfere with crop growth, yield, or production practices (Hooks and Johnson 2001). Our goals were to assess the impact of living and synthetic mulches on zucchini plant size and marketable yield. For successful crop management, an understanding of the effectiveness of these mulches is essential. Production practices, which increase economic gains while reducing negative impacts on the environment, are important for the development and integration of management tactics in an IPM program. Methods Field Trials Field research was conducted at the University of Florida, Plant Science Research and Education Unit located in Citra, Florida. Zucchini, Cucurbita pepo L., cv. Ambassador, were planted on raised beds spaced 1.2 m apart. Zucchini were planted from seed and later thinned to approximately 1 meter between plants. Mulches used during these studies included two synthetic mulches (white and reflective), two living mulches (buckwheat and white clover), and a bare ground control. Buckwheat,

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41 Fagopyrum esculentum Moench, and white clover, Trifolium repens L., mulches were seeded by hand. In 2002, individual plots were 15 X 14 m and sown with 8 rows. Living mulches were planted after zucchini seeding on top of rows. In 2003 individual plot size was reduced to 14 X 12 m, and sown with 7 rows. Living mulches were seeded between rows 1 week before zucchini planting. Treatments were replicated four times in a randomized complete block design with blocks spaced 15 m apart. Plant Size Sampling In 2003, ten plants were selected randomly from the inside rows of each treatment plot after final harvest. Plant dimensions (width and height) were measured in centimeters using a measuring tape. To collect data on plant width we measured from the distal ends of opposing lateral shoots located at the base of zucchini plants. Height data were collected by measuring from the base of zucchini stems to the terminal bud. Results were recorded in the field. Yield Sampling Inside rows of all treatment plots were evaluated for yield throughout the 2002-03 field seasons. Inside rows were thinned in all plots so that the number of zucchini plants was equal in all rows sampled. During harvest, marketable zucchini from these rows were collected and weighed in the field weekly, and all data were recorded. Harvest sampling continued for 3 weeks in 2002, and for 4 weeks in 2003. Statistical Analysis Data from plant size sampling were analyzed using ANOVA with means separated using Tukeys test ( = 0.05). Data from yield sampling were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). Means were separated with least significant

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42 differences (LSD) to show treatment differences. Differences were considered significant when P 0.05. Results Plant Size Sampling In 2003, data from plant size sampling showed that plants from all mulch treatments were significantly larger than those in the bare ground treatment for width (F = 19.80; df = 4, 92; P < 0.0001) [Figure 4-1]. All mulched plants were significantly taller than those grown on bare ground, with the exception of those grown with clover mulch, which were not significantly taller (F = 20.54; df = 4, 92; P < 0.0001) [Figure 4-2]. Plants grown with reflective mulch had dimensions more than 20% larger than those located in bare ground, and were significantly larger than zucchini plants grown with white, buckwheat, and clover mulch. Yield Sampling In 2002, plants in plots treated with reflective and white mulch had significantly higher yields than those in the bare ground, buckwheat, and clover mulch treatments (Table 4-1). In fact, plants grown with white and reflective mulch had 84% and 87% more zucchini fruit than those on bare ground. The situation was even more dramatic when 95% more zucchini fruit were harvested from plants in the white and reflective mulch treatments compared with those grown with living mulches (Table 4-1). Yield data from the 2003 trial were similar although less dramatic. Significantly more zucchini fruit were harvested from plants treated with white and reflective mulch compared with the other treatments (Table 4-1). Unlike 2002, yields from plants treated with living mulch, specifically buckwheat, were only 47% lower than those grown with synthetic

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43 mulch. However, plants grown with clover and those on bare ground produced almost two thirds fewer zucchini fruit as plants in synthetic mulch plots. Discussion Throughout the 2002-03 field seasons, plants grown with synthetic mulches had significantly higher yields than those grown with living mulch or on bare ground. Additionally, reflective mulch produced significantly larger plants than all other treatments. Although plants grown with white mulch had significantly higher yields than those with buckwheat mulch, there were no significant differences in plant size. These results show that reflective mulch performed better at both increasing plant size and yield compared with other mulch types evaluated. Although plants on white mulch consistently had higher aphid and whitefly populations than other mulch treatments (Chapter 3), there were no significant differences between white and reflective mulch when comparing yield. It seems that the added benefits that synthetic mulches provide, such as regulation of soil temperature and moisture, greatly increased plant growth so that the factors associated with homopteran feeding were not a significant issue. Additionally, the deleterious effects of competition from the living mulches on zucchini yield outweighed any positive benefits they may have had on reducing aphid and whitefly pest populations (Chapter 3). Although silverleaf has been known to reduce yields (Costa et al. 1994), it did not appear to be a major factor in this study. This was probably because silverleaf increased in severity when zucchini plants were older. Additionally in 2003, aphid-transmitted viruses did not affect the productivity of zucchini plants because symptoms appeared during the final weeks of harvest.

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44 During both years of the experiment there were challenges in determining the optimum planting time and placement of living mulches within their respective plots. In 2002, living mulches were planted in relatively close proximity to zucchini plants on top of rows. Subsequently, zucchini plants within living mulch treatments were smaller and looked less healthy than those within the synthetic mulch treatments. The close planting of living mulch on top of rows with zucchini plants may have allowed competition for resources (mineral salts and water), which may have stunted plant growth and affected crop yield in these treatments. In 2003, zucchini yields with living mulch increased substantially from the previous year. This increase can be attributed to planting living mulches between crop rows, and further away from zucchini plants. However, competition may still have been a factor contributing to the significantly lower yields compared with the synthetic mulch treatments. It was my intention in 2003 to plant living mulches one month earlier than zucchini. We believed that early season establishment of living mulches would reduce yield loss because refuges for natural enemy populations would already be in place during the sensitive stage of early zucchini growth. Unfortunately, heavy rains and wind prevented successful establishment until one week before zucchini planting. In the future, earlier planting dates for living mulches may improve results by increasing zucchini yield. However, further research must be conducted in the timing and location of living mulches within a crop for this method to be used successfully in any IPM

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45 program. Overall, these results show that synthetic mulch (white and reflective) would be more effective for increasing zucchini plant size and yield compared with the other mulch types evaluated.

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46 Table 4-1. Mean yield weight (kg) of zucchini in Citra, FL Mean SEM 2002 a 2003 b White 15.00 1.67 a 15.36 2.47 a Reflective 18.24 2.46 a 15.75 2.21 a Buckwheat 0.75 0.36 c 8.07 1.25 b Clover 0.75 0.38 c 5.29 0.61 c Bare Ground 2.36 0.67 b 5.56 0.83 c Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P = 0.05, LSD test) a F = 94.04; df = 4, 36; P < 0.0001 b F = 43.07; df = 4, 48; P < 0.0001

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47 baccd020406080100120140White Reflective Buckwheat Clover Bare GroundTreatmentMean Plant Width (cm) 2003 Figure 4-1. Mean plant width (cm) of zucchini in Citra, FL (2003)

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48 babcc010203040506070White Reflective Buckwheat Clover Bare GroundTreatmentMean Plant Height (cm) 2003 Figure 4-2. Mean plant height (cm) of zucchini in Citra, FL (2003)

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CHAPTER 5 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS Research on the effects of different mulching systems within an agroecosystem has allowed improvements to be made in current crop management practices. Reflective mulch has shown clear benefits for pest suppression, and has increased yield for a variety of agricultural crops. Alternatively, living mulches, including buckwheat and clover, have been used successfully for reducing the incidence of aphids and whiteflies, and increasing the number of potential natural enemy species within a variety of crops. In addition, living mulches have been shown to reduce soil erosion and promote chemical free choices for weed management. Unfortunately, little work has been done in comparing the cost of implementing synthetic versus living mulch. Understanding which mulching system is more efficient for overall cucurbit management will help to develop IPM programs that provide growers with technology that lowers the cost of pest suppression, increases yield, and is more ecologically friendly. Results from these studies suggest that reflective mulch provided the best overall treatment for reducing whitefly and aphid populations, and the incidence of transmitted diseases. In addition, reflective mulch had significantly larger zucchini plants than other mulch treatments. White mulch had increased whitefly and aphid numbers when compared with reflective mulch, but there were no significant differences in the yield obtained. 49

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50 Buckwheat mulch performed comparably to reflective mulch in pest suppression, but it had significantly lower marketable yields. Living mulches had significantly higher natural enemy populations compared with synthetic mulches and bare ground. However, synthetic mulches had significantly higher yields compared with living mulches and bare ground. Economic gains and ease of incorporation play central roles for whether or not a particular tactic is incorporated into an IPM program. Although synthetic mulches provided the highest yields, they cost more when compared with living mulch, or no mulch systems. The cost of buckwheat seeds used for one field season is $37. Although buckwheat is an annual, it can be managed so that it produces seed throughout the year, and does not require subsequent planting later in the season. White clover, a perennial, plus innoculant cost $34 for one field season. Alternately, white mulch cost $120 for a 1.5 X 1829 meter roll, and reflective mulch was $145 for a 1.5 X 1219 meter roll. Although the costs of living mulches are less than synthetic mulches, they require additional upkeep and management. For instance, living mulches require additional water, and must be maintained so that they dont become a weed problem later in the year. In addition, it is often difficult to determine the best living mulch to use in a cropping system containing multiple pest species. Overall, synthetic mulches were easier to maintain. They require no establishment period before zucchini is planted, and are not weather dependant. In addition, no special watering features or additional drip lines were needed in plots treated with synthetic mulch. Harvesting zucchini on synthetic mulches was also easier because individual

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51 fruits were not concealed by extra vegetation, and competition never played a factor in synthetic mulches as compared to living mulch plots. When looking at an agroecosystem containing a number of organisms, the complexity of interactions can limit the examination of every interaction simultaneously. Thus, the experiments that were conducted only looked at the most relevant factors involved with whitefly and aphid behavior, so that valid conclusions could be made for future cucurbit management. During the course of my research several challenges arose that may help open the door for future manipulative experiments. A number of factors can play a role in the fluctuation of insect species. Throughout my research, noticeable differences in weather and temperature were observed between years. These differences may have helped shape the density of whitefly and aphid populations during the course of the experiment. During 2002, whitefly populations were significantly higher than those recorded in 2003 (Figure 1-1 and 1-2). Alternately, aphid populations were significantly higher in 2003 than those recorded in 2002 (Figure 1-1 and 1-2). Despite these yearly fluctuations, definite whitefly and aphid behavioral patterns were observed so that solid comparisons could be made. Timing and establishment of living mulches were problematic for both field seasons. During 2002, we were forced to plant the living mulch and zucchini at the same time, which may have decreased the effectiveness of living mulch as a refuge for natural enemies early in the season. During 2003, excessive rain postponed the planting date of living mulches until 1 week before zucchini planting. Although this was sufficient time for germination of the living mulch, mature mulch stands did not occur until several weeks after zucchini planting. In the future, early season establishment of living mulches

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52 may be helpful in reducing yield loss because refuges for natural enemy populations would have been established during the sensitive stage of early zucchini growth. Maintaining consistent field borders was difficult in these experiments because research was conducted at an experimental research station. During the 2002 field season, field borders consisted predominantly of grass species. During 2003, grass species were again present, but a plot containing tomatoes was established several weeks before ours on the north border. This tomato plot may have speeded up the migration rates of aphids into our zucchini plots, allowing the spread of viral diseases that may otherwise not have been present. Currently, management of whiteflies and aphids requires the use of multiple IPM tactics. The use of pesticides, oils, row-covers, and cross-protection in conjunction with mulches may help to limit pest outbreaks and the occurrence of transmitted diseases. By understanding how whiteflies and aphids respond to different mulching systems, we can develop new and effective approaches for integration with current management practices. In addition, further research is needed into the mechanisms involved with this technology, so that future programs can be developed for a variety of other agricultural crops.

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LIST OF REFERENCES Adlerz, W. C. 1978. Secondary spread of watermelon mosaic virus 2 by Anuraphis middletonii. J. Econ. Entomol. 71: 531-533. Adlerz, W. C. 1987. Cucurbit potyvirus transmission by alate aphids (Homoptera: Aphididae) trapped alive. J. Econ. Entomol. 80: 87-92. Adlerz, W. C. and P. H. Everett 1968. Aluminum foil and white polyethylene mulches to repel aphids and control watermelon mosaic. J. Econ. Entomol. 61: 1276-1279. Andow, D. A. 1991. Yield loss to arthropods in vegetationally diverse agroecosystems. Environ. Entomol. 20: 1228-1235. Andow, D. A., A. G. Nicholson, H. C. Wien, and H. R. Wilson 1986. Insect population on cabbage grown with living mulches. Environ. Entomol. 15: 293-299. Barlow, C. A., P. A. Randolph, and J. C. Randolph 1977. Effects of pea aphids (Homoptera: Aphididae) on growth and productivity of pea plants. Can. Entomol. 109: 1491-1502. Bentz, J. A., J. Reeves, P. Barbosa, and B. Francis 1995. Within-plant variation in nitrogen and sugar content of poinsettia and its effects on the oviposition pattern, survival, and development of Bemisia argentifolii (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). Environ. Entomol. 24: 271-277. Bernays, E. A. 1999. When host choice is a problem for a generalist herbivore: experiments with the whitefly, Bemisia tabaci. Ecol. Entomol. 24: 260-267. Blackmer, J. L. and D. N. Byrne 1993. Flight behavior of Bemisia tabaci in a vertical flight chamber: effect of time of day, sex, age and host quality. Physiol. Entomol. 18: 223-232. Blua, M. J. and T. M. Perring 1989. Effect of zucchini yellow mosaic virus on development and yield of cantaloupe (Cucumis melo). Plant Dis. 73: 317-320. Breen, J. P. and G. L. Teetes 1986. Relationships of yellow sugarcane aphid (Homoptera: Aphididae) density to sorghum damage. J. Econ. Entomol. 79: 1106-1110. 53

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54 Brewer, M. J., R. N. Story, and V. L. Wright 1987. Development of summer squash seedlings damaged by striped and spotted cucumber beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 80: 1004-1009. Broadbent, L., R. P. Chaudhuri, and L. Kapica 1950. The spread of virus diseases to single potato plants by winged aphids. Ann. Appl. Biol. 37: 355-362. Brown, J. E., J. M. Dangler, F. M. Woods, M. C. Henshaw, and W. A. Griffy 1993. Delay in mosaic virus onset and aphid vector reduction in summer squash grown on reflective mulches. HortSci. 28: 895-896. Brown, J. K., D. R. Frohlich, and R. C. Rosell 1995. The sweetpotato or silverleaf whiteflies: biotypes of Bemisia tabaci or a species complex? Annu. Rev. Entomol. 40: 511-534. Buntin, G. D., D. A. Gilbertz, and R. D. Oetting 1993. Chlorophyll loss and gas exchange in tomato leaves after feeding injury by Bemisia tabaci (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 86: 517-522. Burger, Y., A. Schwartz, and H. S. Paris 1988. Physiological and anatomical features of the silvering disorder of Cucurbita. J. Hortic. Sci. 63: 635-640. Butler, G. D., Jr., T. J. Henneberry, and F. D. Wilson 1986. Bemisia tabaci (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) on cotton: adult activity and cultivar oviposition preference. J. Econ. Entomol. 79: 350-354. Byrne, D. N. and W. B. Miller 1990. Carbohydrate and amino acid composition of phloem sap and honeydew produced by Bemisia tabaci. J. Insect Physiol. 36: 433-439. Cardoza, Y. J., H. J. McAuslane, and S. E. Webb 2000. Effect of leaf age and silverleaf symptoms on oviposition site selection and development of Bemisia argentifolii (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) on zucchini. Environ. Entomol. 29: 220-225. Castle, S., T. M. Perring, C. A. Farrar, and A. N. Kishaba 1992. Field and laboratory transmission of watermelon mosaic virus 2 and zucchini yellow mosaic virus by various aphid species. Phytopathology 82: 235-240. Cho, J. J., D. E. Ullman, E. Wheatley, J. Holly, and D. Gonsalves 1992. Commercialization of ZYMV cross protection for zucchini production in Hawaii. Phytopathology 82: 1073. Chu, C. C., T. J. Henneberry, and A. C. Cohen 1995. Bemisia argentifolii (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae): host preference and factors affecting oviposition and feeding site preferences. Environ. Entomol. 24: 354-360.

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55 Costa, H. S. and J. K. Brown 1990. Variability in biological characteristics, isozyme patterns and virus transmission among populations of Bemisia tabaci. Phytopathology 80: 888. Costa, H. S., M. W. Johnson, and D. E. Ullman 1994. Row covers effect on sweetpotato whitefly (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) densities, incidence of silverleaf, and crop yield in zucchini. J. Econ. Entomol. 87: 1616-1621. Costa, H. S. and K. L. Robb 1999. Effects of ultraviolet-absorbing greenhouse plastic films on flight behavior of Bemesia argentifolii (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) and Frankliniella occidentalis (Thysanoptera: Thripidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 92: 557-562. Costa, H. S., D. E. Ullman, M. W. Johnson, and B. E. Tabashnik 1993. Squash silverleaf symptoms, induced by immature, but not adult, Bemisia tabaci. Phytopathology 83: 763-766. Costello, M. J. and M. A. Altieri 1995. Abundance, growth rate and parasitism of Brevicoryne brassicae and Myzus persicae (Homoptera: Aphididae) on broccoli grown in living mulches. Afric. Ecosys. Environ. 52: 187-196. Coudriet, D. L. 1962. Efficiency of various insects as vectors of cucumber mosaic and watermelon mosaic viruses in cantaloupes. J. Econ. Entomol. 55: 519-520. Csizinszky, A. A., D. J. Schuster, and J. B. Kring 1995. Color mulches influence yield and insect pest populations in tomatoes. J. Am. Soc. Hort. Sci. 120: 778-784. Csizinszky, A. A., D. J. Schuster, and J. B. Kring 1997. Evaluation of color mulches and oil sprays for yield and for the control of silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia argentifolii (Bellows and Perring) on tomatoes. Crop Prot. 16: 475-481. Decoteau, D. R., M. J. Kasperbauer, and P. G. Hunt 1989. Mulch surface color affects yield of fresh-market tomatoes. J. Am. Soc. Hort. Sci. 114: 216-219. Demski, J. W. and J. H. Chalkley 1974. Influence of watermelon mosaic virus on watermelon. Plant Dis. Rep. 58: 195-198. Eastop,V. F. 1977. Worldwide importance of aphids as virus vectors. pp. 3-62 in: K. F. Harris and K. Maramorosch, editors., Aphids as Virus Vectors. Academic Press, New York, NY. Gould, J. R. and S. E. Naranjo 1999. Distribution and sampling of Bemisia argentifolii (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) and Eretmocerus eremicus (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae) on cantaloupe vines. J. Econ. Entomol. 92: 402-408. Greer, L. and J. M. Dole 2003. Aluminum foil, aluminum-painted plastic, and degradable mulches increase yields and decrease insect-vectored viral diseases of vegetables. HortTechnol. 13: 276-284.

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56 Gruenhagen, N. M. and T. M. Perring 1999. Velvetleaf: a plant with adverse impacts on insect natural enemies. Environ. Entomol. 28: 884-889. Heathcote, G. D. 1957. The comparison of yellow cylindrical, flat water traps and of Johnson suction traps, for sampling aphids. Ann. Appl. Biol. 45: 133-139. Hooks, C. R. R. and M. W. Johnson 2001. Broccoli growth parameters and level of head infestation in simple and mixed plantings: impact of increased flora diversification. Ann. Appl. Biol. 138: 269-280. Hooks, C. R. R., H. R. Valenzuela, and J. Defrank 1998. Incidence of pest and arthropod natural enemies in zucchini grown in living mulches. Agri. Ecosys. Environ. 69: 217-231. Hussein, M. Y. and N. A. Samad 1993. Intercropping chilli with maize or brinjal to suppress populations of Aphis gossypii Glov., and transmission of chilli viruses. Internat. J. Pest Mngt. 39: 216-222. Jackson, D. M., M. W. Farnham, A. M. Simmons, W. A. Van Giessen, and K. D. Elsey 2000. Effects of planting pattern of collards on resistance to whiteflies (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) and on parasitoid abundance. J. Econ. Entomol. 93: 1227-1236. Jimnez, D. R., J. P. Shapiro, and R. K. Yokomi 1993. Biotype-specific expression of dsRNA in the sweetpotato whitefly. Entomol. Exp. Appl. 70: 143-152. Jimnez, D. R., R. K. Yokomi, R. T. Mayer, and J. P. Shapiro 1995. Cytology and physiology of silverleaf whitefly-induced squash silverleaf. Physiol. Mol. Plant Pathol. 46: 227-242. Kishaba, A. N., S. Castle, J. D. McCreight, and P. R. Desjardins 1992. Resistance of white-flowered gourd to sweet-potato whitefly. Hortic. Sci. 27: 1217-1221. Kloen, H. and M. A. Altieri 1990. Effect of mustard (Brassica hirta) as a non-crop plant on competition and insect pests in broccoli (Brassica oleracea). Crop Prot. 9: 90-96. Kring, J. B. 1959. The life cycle of the melon aphid, Aphis gossypii, an example of facultative migration. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 52: 284-286. Kring, J. B. 1967. Alighting of aphids on colored cards in a flight chamber. J. Econ. Entomol. 60: 1207-1210. Kring, J. B. 1972. Flight behavior of aphids. Ann. Rev. Entomol. 17: 461-492. Liburd, O. E., R. A. Casagrande, and S. R. Alm 1998. Evaluation of various color hydromulches and weed fabric on broccoli insect populations. J. Econ. Entomol. 91: 56-262.

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57 Lisa, V., G. Boccardo, G. DAgostino, G. Dellavalle, and M. dAquilio 1981. Characterization of a potyvirus that causes zucchini yellow mosaic. Phytopathology 71: 667-672. Lisa, V. and H. Lecoq 1984. Zucchini yellow mosaic virus. p. 282. in: Descriptions of plant viruses. Commonwealth Mycological Institute/Association of Applied Plant Biology, Kew, Surrey, England. Liu, T. X. 2000. Population dynamics of Bemisia argentifolii (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) on spring collard and relationship to yield in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. J. Econ. Entomol. 93: 750-756. Liu, T. X. and P. A. Stansly 1995. Oviposition by Bemisia argentifolii (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) on tomato: effects of leaf factors and insecticide residues. J. Econ. Entomol. 88: 992-997. Maynard, D. N., G. J. Hochmuth, C. S. Vavrina, W. M. Stall, T. A. Kucharek, S. E. Webb, T. G. Taylor, S. A. Smith, E. H. Simonne, and S. M. Olson 2003. Cucurbit production in Florida. pp. 159-182 in: Extension Bulletin HS725. University of Florida/IFAS, Gainesville. McAuslane, H. J. 1996. Influence of leaf pubescence on ovipositional preference of Bemisia argentifolii (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) on soybean. Environ. Entomol. 25: 834-841. Miyazaki, M. 1987. Forms and morphs of aphids. pp. 27-47 in: A. K. Minks and P. Harrewijn, editors., Aphids: their biology, natural enemies and control. Vol. A. Elsevier Science Publishing Company INC., NY, NY, USA. Mound, L. 1962. Studies on the olfaction and coulour sensitivity of Bemisia tabaci (Genn.) (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). Entomol. Exp. Appl. 5: 99-104. Nault, L. R. 1997. Arthropod transmission of plant viruses: a new synthesis. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 90: 521-541. Palumbo, J. C., N. C. Toscano, M. J. Blua, and H. A. Yoshida 2000. Impact of Bemisia whiteflies (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) on alfalfa growth, forage yield, and quality. J. Econ. Entomol. 93: 1688-1694. Paris, H. S., H. Nerson, and Y. Burger 1987. Leaf silvering of Cucurbita. Can. J. Plant. Sci. 67: 593-598. Perring, T. M., A. D. Cooper, R. J. Rodriguez, C. A. Farrar, and T. S. Bellows 1993. Identification of a whitefly species by genomic and behavioral studies. Science 259: 74-77. Polston, J. E. and P. K. Anderson 1997. The emergence of whitefly-transmitted Gemini viruses in tomato in the western hemisphere. Plant Dis. 81: 1358-1369.

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58 Power, A. G. 1987. Plant community diversity, herbivore movement, and an insect-transmitted disease of maize. Ecology 68: 1658-1669. Provvidenti, R., D. Gonsalves, and H. J. Humaydan 1984. Occurrence of zucchini yellow mosaic virus in cucurbits from Connecticut, New York, Florida, and California. Plant Dis. 68: 443-446. Purcifull, D. E., G. W. Simone, C. A. Baker, and E. Hiebert 1988. Immunodiffusion tests for six viruses that infect cucurbits in Florida. Proc. Fla. State Hortic. Soc. 101: 401-403. Root, R. B. 1973. Organization of a plant-arthropod association in simple and diverse habitats: the fauna of collards (Brassica oleracea). Ecol. Monog. 43: 95-120. Schalk, J. M., C. S. Creighton, R. L. Fery, W. R. Sitterly, B. W. Davis, T. L. McFadden, and A. Day 1979. Reflective film mulches influences insect control and yield in vegetables. J. Am. Soc. Hort. Sci. 104: 759-762. Schuster, D. J., J. B. Kring, and J. F. Price 1991. Association of the sweetpotato whitefly with a silverleaf disorder of squash. HortSci. 26: 155-156. Simmons, A. M. 1994. Ovipositon on vegetables by Bemisia tabaci (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae): temporal and leaf surface factors. Environ. Entomol. 23: 381-389. Smith, H. A., R. L. Koenig, H. J. McAuslane, and R. McSorley 2000. Effect of silver reflective mulch and a summer squash trap crop on densities of immature Bemisia argentifolii (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) on organic bean. J. Econ. Entomol. 93: 726-731. Smith, J. G. 1969. Some effects of crop background on populations of aphids and their natural enemies on brussels sprouts. Ann. Appl. Biol. 63: 326-329. Summers, C. G. and J. J. Stapleton 2002. Reflective mulches for management of aphids and aphid-borne virus diseases in late-season cantaloupe (Cucumis melo L. var. Cantalupensis). Crop Prot. 21: 891-898. Summers, C. G., J. J. Stapleton, A. S. Newton, R. A. Duncan, and D. Hart 1995. Comparison of sprayable and film mulches in delaying the onset of aphid-transmitted virus diseases in zucchini squash. Plant Dis. 79: 1126-1131. Swenson, K. G. 1968. Role of aphids in the ecology of plant viruses. Ann. Rev. Phytopathol. 6: 351-374. Toba, H. H., A. N. Kishaba, G. W. Bohn, and H. Hield 1977. Protecting muskmelon against aphid-borne viruses. Phytopathology 67: 1418-1423. Tsai, J. H. and K. Wang 1996. Development and reproduction of Bemisia argentifolii (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) on five host plants. Environ. Entomol. 25: 810-816.

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59 Van Lenteren, J. C. and P. J. Noldus 1990. Whitefly-plant relationships: behavioural and ecological aspects. Chapter 3, in: D. Gerling [ed.], Whiteflies: their bionomics, pest status and management. Intercept, Andover, UK. Webb, S. E., M. L. Kok-Yokomi, and D. J. Voegtlin 1994. Effect of trap color on species composition of alate aphids (Homoptera: Aphididae) caught over watermelon plants. Florida Entomol. 77: 146-154. Wolfenbarger, D. O. and W. D. Moore 1968. Insect abundance on tomatoes and squash mulched with aluminum and plastic sheetings. J. Econ. Entomol. 61: 34-36. Yokomi, R. K., K. A. Hoelmer, and L. S. Osborne 1990. Relationships between the sweetpotato whitefly and the squash silverleaf disorder. Phytopathology 80: 895-900. Zitter, T. A. and J. N. Simmons 1980. Management of viruses by alteration of vector efficiency and by cultural practices. Ann. Rev. Phytopathology 18: 289-310.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Daniel Lee Frank was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on January 26, 1978. He graduated from South Sevier High School, Monroe, Utah in May 1996. Shortly after graduation he went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he completed Army basic training and advanced individual training for the Utah Army National Guard. Daniel later attended Utah Valley State College (Orem), where he earned his AS in 1998. He then attended Utah State University (Logan), where he earned his BS in biology (with a minor in chemistry) in 2001. After graduation Daniel traveled extensively throughout South America. Upon his arrival back to the United States, he decided to pursue a MS in entomology at the University of Florida in 2002. After completing his degree requirements, Daniel plans on working for a government agency conducting research in integrated pest management (IPM). 60


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EVALUATION OF LIVING AND SYNTHETIC MULCHES IN ZUCCHINI FOR
CONTROL OF HOMOPTERAN PESTS















By

DANIEL L. FRANK


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2004

































Copyright 2004

by

Daniel L. Frank















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I thank my major professor, Dr. Oscar Liburd, for giving me the opportunity to

acquire my master's degree at the University of Florida. His support and guidance

throughout this project were critical for its completion. I am grateful to everyone

working in the Fruit and Vegetable IPM lab for their help and support during my field

seasons. I thank Dr. Susan Webb for the use of her lab and equipment, and for the

critical review of this thesis. I thank Dr. Frank Slansky for his helpful ideas, and the

critical review of this thesis. I am grateful to Scott Taylor and the Plant Science Research

and Education Unit for their help in the design and maintenance of my research plots. I

thank Alejandro Arevalo for his statistical help. I thank Dr. Cerruti Hooks for his help

and guidance during the course of this research. I am grateful to Mike Miller for his help

with ELISA testing. Above all, I thank my family for all their encouragement and

inspiration.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iii

LIST OF TABLES ....................................................... ............ ....... ....... vi

L IST O F F IG U R E S .... ...... ................................................ .. .. ..... .............. vii

A B STR A C T ..................... ................................... ........... ................. viii

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION ............... ................. ........... ................. ... .... 1

2 LITER A TU R E REV IEW ............................................................. ....................... 5

Silverleaf W hiteflies ....................................................... ............... 5
B iology and B ehavior............ ... .................................................. ............... .6
M on itorin g ...................................... ............................... ................ 7
A p h id s ............................................................... ................ .. 7
B iology and B ehavior............ ... .................................................. ............... .8
M monitoring ............................... ..... ..................... .... ... ......... 9
M anagem ent of W hiteflies and Aphids ......................................................................9
S y n th etic M u lch .................................................................................. 10
L iv in g M u lch ................................................................... ............... 1 1
Im pact on Y field ................................................................ .. ......... 12

3 EFFECTS OF LIVING AND SYNTHETIC MULCH ON THE POPULATION
DYNAMICS OF HOMOPTERAN PESTS, THEIR ASSOCIATED NATURAL
ENEMIES, AND INSECT-TRANSMITTED PLANT IMPAIRMENTS .................14

M eth o d s .............................................................................. 15
F ield T rials ...................................................................... 15
Trap sam pling ................................................................. ... ......... 16
F o liar S am p lin g .................................................. ................ 17
Physiological Disorder Evaluation ........................................... ..............18
D disease Identification .......................................... .......... .... ...... .. ............ 18
Statistical A naly sis .......................................... ............ ...... ........18










R e su lts .............................................................................................................1 9
T ra p S a m p lin g ................................................................................................ 1 9
Foliar Sampling ........................... ................ 20
Physiological Disorder Evaluation ............................................ ...............21
D disease Identification ................................................. ............................... 2 1
D isc u ssio n .............................................................................................................. 2 2

4 IMPACT OF LIVING AND SYNTHETIC MULCHES ON ZUCCHINI PLANT
SIZE AND MARKETABLE YIELD ................. .. .............. 39

M e th o d s ..............................................................................4 0
F ield T rials................................................... 40
P lan t S ize S am p lin g ........................................................................................ 4 1
Y field S am p lin g ............................................................................... 4 1
Statistical A naly sis ...........................................................4 1
R e su lts ...........................................................................................4 2
P lan t S ize S am p lin g ........................................................................................ 4 2
Y field S am p lin g ............................................................................... 4 2
D isc u ssio n .............................................................................................................. 4 3

5 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS ............................................................... 49

L IST O F R E FE R E N C E S ............................................................................... 53

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ......................................................................... 60




























v
















LIST OF TABLES

Table page

3-1. Mean number of adult whiteflies per YS trap in Citra, FL....................................25

3-2. Mean number of alate aphids per pan-trap in Citra, FL ........................................26

3-3. Mean number of aphids and whiteflies per zucchini leaf in Citra, FL (2002) ..........27

3-4. Mean number of aphids and whiteflies per zucchini leaf in Citra, FL (2003) ..........28

3-5. Mean number of immature whiteflies per leaf in Citra, FL.................. ............29

3-6. Mean number of natural enemies per leaf in Citra, FL ...........................................30

3-7. M ean silverleaf score per treatment in Citra, FL................................................. 31

4-1. M ean yield weight (kg) of zucchini in Citra, FL.....................................................46
















LIST OF FIGURES


Figure page

3-1. Mean number of alate aphids per pan-trap type in Citra, FL (2003).......................32

3-2. Percentage of total pest individuals sampled in Citra, FL categorized by taxon
(2 0 0 2 ) ...................................... .................................. ................. 3 3

3-3. Percentage of total pest individuals sampled in Citra, FL categorized by taxon
(2 0 0 3 ) ............................................................................ 3 4

3-4. Populations of immature whiteflies on zucchini plant strata in Citra, FL (2002) .....35

3-5. Populations of immature whiteflies on zucchini plant strata in Citra, FL (2003) .....36

3-6. Percentage of total natural enemies sampled in Citra, FL categorized by order
(2002) ......... ..... ......... ........ ......... ............. ....... 37

3-7. Percentage of total natural enemies sampled in Citra, FL categorized by order
(2 0 0 3 ) ............................................................................ 3 8

4-1. Mean plant width (cm) of zucchini in Citra, FL (2003)............ ......... ..........47

4-2. Mean plant height (cm) of zucchini in Citra, FL (2003) ................................48















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science

EVALUATION OF LIVING AND SYNTHETIC MULCHES IN ZUCCHINI FOR
CONTROL OF HOMOPTERAN PESTS

By

Daniel L. Frank

December 2004

Chair: Oscar Liburd
Major Department: Entomology and Nematology

Living and synthetic mulches were evaluated for control of the silverleaf whitefly

(Bemisia argentifolii Bellows and Perring) and aphids in zucchini. Two living mulches,

buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) and white clover (Trifolium repens L.); and

two synthetic mulches (reflective and white) were evaluated during fall 2002 and fall

2003. Results from trap and foliar counts showed that reflective and buckwheat mulches

consistently had fewer incidences of adult whiteflies and aphids compared with the other

mulch treatments evaluated, including bare ground (control).

In 2003, a significant increase in the diversity of natural enemies was seen

throughout all treatments. Living mulch treatments had higher natural-enemy

populations than did the synthetic mulch and bare-ground treatments. Diversity of

natural enemies did not differ in synthetic mulch vs. bare-ground treatments.

The effectiveness of mulches for controlling immature whitefly numbers, and the

incidence of squash silverleaf disorder were inconsistent between years. Although









squash silverleaf disorder has been known to reduce yields, it did not appear to be a

major factor in this study. Additional data taken at the end of the 2003 season revealed

that two viral strains (PRSV-W and WMV-2) were present in the field. However, visual

symptoms associated with these viral diseases did not occur until the final weeks of

harvest, and thus had little effect on zucchini yield.

Although white mulch consistently had higher adult whitefly and aphid populations

than other mulch treatments, there were no significant differences between white and

reflective mulch when comparing yield. Overall, synthetic mulches had significantly

higher yields than living mulch and bare ground. The deleterious effects of competition

from the living mulches on zucchini yield outweighed any positive benefits they may

have had on reducing aphid and whitefly pest populations.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Cucurbits are a major vegetable crop grown in Florida. During the 2002-03 field

season, Florida growers harvested over 45,000 acres of cucurbits valued at over $170

million. Despite these numbers, rising costs associated with preventing insect related

problems, combined with cheaper imports from Mexico have threatened the production

and value of many Florida cucurbits. Currently, crop-plant physiological disorders and

insect-transmitted diseases have become serious problems for many growers around the

state.

One of the most important plant physiological disorders in cucurbits is squash

silverleaf (SSL) disorder. SSL is associated with the feeding of immature whiteflies

(Bemisia argentifolii Bellows and Perring) and is characterized by silvering of the adaxial

leaf surface and blanching of fruit (Yokomi et al. 1990, Costa et al. 1993, Jimenez et al.

1995). Variations in the feeding densities of immature whiteflies have been shown to

affect the severity of SSL symptoms, which can develop in as little as 14 days (Yokomi

et al. 1990, Schuster et al. 1991, Costa et al. 1993).

It has been estimated that homopteran pests spread over 90% of insect-borne

diseases of plants (Eastop 1977). The most important vectors of plant viruses include the

aphids, which have been known to transmit 275 different viral disorders (Nault 1997).

Crops in the Cucurbitaceae are highly susceptible to several of these insect-transmitted

viruses. Important viruses affecting cucurbits in Florida include zucchini yellow mosaic

virus (ZYMV), watermelon mosaic virus-2 (WMV-2), cucumber mosaic virus (CMV),









and papaya ringspot virus-watermelon strain (PRSV-W) (Adlerz 1978, Provvidenti et al.

1984, Purcifull et al. 1988). Symptoms of these viruses include pronounced reduction in

growth; the occurrence of yellowing, mosaic, and blistering of leaves; and reduced fruit

set (Demski and Chalkley 1974, Lisa et al. 1981). In addition, the fruits harvested from

infected plants are often malformed and distorted, rendering them unmarketable (Blua

and Perring 1989).

Several aphid species have been associated with transmitting these viruses in a

stylet-borne non-persistent manner (Coudriet 1962, Lisa et al. 1981, Adlerz 1987, Castle

et al. 1992). Stylet-borne viruses are characterized by having no latent period within the

vector, and have an infectivity of a few hours or days. This, coupled with the rapid

acquisition and inoculation of the virus during brief test probes into the plant epidermis,

can allow rapid spread throughout a given area.

In addition to transmitting viruses and causing plant disorders, heavy infestations

of whiteflies and aphids generally cause a reduction in plant vigor (Barlow et al. 1977,

Buntin et al. 1993). The excretion of honeydew by these insects can serve as an

important medium for promoting growth of sooty mold fungi (Capnodium spp.), which

can further reduce plant vigor and yield (Byrne and Miller 1990, Palumbo et al. 2000).

The unpredictability and severity of these cucurbit pests and associated diseases in

conjunction with injury from secondary pests makes efficient management strategies

necessary in a cucurbit-production system.

Currently, pesticides play a major role in the pest management of cucurbits.

However, this control strategy can become problematic. For instance, frequent use of

insecticides leads to increased production costs, and increases potential for resistance. In









addition, a heightened awareness of the harmful effects of pesticides to non target

organisms and the environment have led many to search for alternative methods for pest

control. The overall goal of my research was to investigate pest management tactics that

would suppress the activity of homopteran pests.

Our hypothesis was that the use of living and synthetic (reflective) mulches would

suppress the activity of whiteflies and aphids, thus reducing viral infection and the

occurrence of plant disorders. Developing cultural management practices for pest control

is an important way to establish ecologically friendly measures to provide growers with

sustainable approaches to pest management. Because of the importance of cucurbit sales

in Florida (and other areas of the United States and the world) and the limitations of

traditional methods for management of homopteran pests, additional management

strategies are needed that can serve as stand-alone practices or be used in conjunction

with other pest-management approaches.

Cucurbits are generally produced in Florida for spring, early summer, and fall

markets. Different varieties can be planted throughout the year, depending on climatic

conditions, with production practices varying for each environmental situation. The

adaptability and assortment of cucurbits grown in Florida has created a diverse market for

growers to compete.

Cucurbits in Florida are grown on raised beds covered with synthetic mulches.

Traditionally, farmers have used white, or white on black mulches in the fall; and black

in the winter and spring. Reflective and living mulches have also been used in cucurbit

production (Hooks et al. 1998, Summers and Stapleton 2002). Soil moisture is

maintained through several irrigation practices that can include overhead, drip, seepage,






4


or furrow. Fertilizers are generally incorporated into the bed before mulching, with

supplements applied through irrigation tubes or a liquid-fertilizer injection wheel.

Management of diseases, weeds, and insects is accomplished by a variety of chemicals.

Plant pollination is another important factor in cucurbit production. Many insects can

pollinate cucurbit plants, but it is generally recommended that honeybee hives be placed

near cucurbit fields. One hive per 2 acres is recommended to facilitate adequate

pollination of plants (Maynard et al. 2003).














CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

The first step in any IPM program is to understand the biology and behavior of the

pest species involved. Once an understanding of these concepts is developed, efficient

methods for monitoring can be established. The development of pest management tactics

requires the collection of repeated systematic data that is unbiased, and gives an adequate

picture of the field dynamics. Without this information, it is uncertain as to which tactic

should be incorporated into the program, so that the most effective management practices

are attained.

Silverleaf Whiteflies

The silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia argentifolii, occurs in many tropical and

subtropical habitats as well as greenhouses. Research has shown that direct feeding

pressure and deposition of honeydew by adult whitefly populations can cause significant

damage and economic loss to a variety of cultivars (Van Lenteren and Noldus 1990,

Perring et al. 1993). However, the silverleaf whitefly's potential as a vector for virus,

and its ability to induce plant impairments have gained it particular attention (Costa and

Brown 1990, Yokomi et al. 1990, Schuster et al. 1991, Polston and Anderson 1997). One

important disorder, squash silverleaf disorder (SSL), is characterized by the silvering of

the adaxial leaf surface of cucurbit plants. This disorder is typically seen in late summer

and fall crops, and can cause substantial economic losses to growers.









Biology and Behavior

The silverleaf whitefly is primarily polyphagous and colonizes predominantly

annual, herbaceous plants (Brown et al. 1995). There are four nymphal instars that

characterize whitefly development from egg to pupae. The first nymphal instars are

usually referred to as crawlers, and are capable of limited movement while the second,

third, and fourth instars are immobile. Completion of all four instars last approximately

17-21 days under optimum conditions. Females are generally larger than males

throughout all instars (Tsai and Wang 1996). The nymphal stage of the whitefly life

cycle can induce a variety of phytotoxic disorders. In squash, feeding by as few as two to

three nymphs per plant can induce SSL disorder (Costa et al. 1993). The silvering of

leaves is believed to be a plant response to feeding, and its severity varies directly with

the number of feeding immatures (Yokomi et al. 1990, Schuster et al. 1991, Costa et al.

1993, Jimenez et al. 1993). Air spaces between the epidermis and palisade cells of leaves

cause the characteristic silvered color. This change in color, chlorophyll content, and

light reflectance reduces the photosynthetic ability of the plant species (Burger et al.

1988, Jimenez et al. 1995). It has been estimated that photosynthesis can be reduced by

up to 30% in severe cases (Burger et al. 1988, Cardoza et al. 2000).

After development through the nymphal and pupal stages, adult whiteflies emerge.

Movement of adults for feeding and oviposition occur on the shaded abaxial surface of

suitable host leaves (Simmons 1994). Females live between 10 to 24 days, and can lay

anywhere from 66 to 300 eggs (Tsai and Wang 1996). They prefer to oviposite on young

leaves, which creates a stratification of different life stages as the host crop plant grows

(Gould and Naranjo 1999). Similarly, factors such as leaf shape, color, and nitrogen

content can also affect ovipositional preference (Mound 1962, Butler et al. 1986, Bentz et









al. 1995). Although wind is the main mechanism for dispersal over long and short

distances, unintentional transport by people can occur (Blackmer and Byrne 1993, Brown

et al. 1995).

Monitoring

Immature whiteflies spend a prominent amount of their time in an immobile

feeding stage. Monitoring for immatures has involved removal of disks from selected

leaves. These leaf disks are then examined under a microscope for identification of

nymphal stages and/or species (Hook et al. 1998, Gould and Naranjo 1999).

Whitefly adults respond strongly to visual cues in their environment. For instance,

adult whiteflies have a strong attraction to wavelengths of light falling in the yellow

spectra of the visible color range (Mound 1962). Yellow sticky traps have been used

effectively in many crop systems for monitoring whiteflies. In addition to monitoring via

traps, in-situ counts may also be an efficient way to track whitefly distribution between

selected plots.

Aphids

Aphids can be found on a variety of host plants throughout the world. Their ability

to transmit numerous plant viruses coupled with their high reproductive rates have

qualified them as an important pest in agricultural systems. Although feeding by aphids

can reduce plant vigor and yield (Barlow et al. 1977, Breen and Teetes 1986), the non-

persistent transmission of stylet-borne viruses is a more significant problem to growers

worldwide. Additionally, viruses are typically transmitted by transient alate species

creating further management difficulties (Broadbent et al. 1950, Swenson 1968). Other

factors, such as their small size and highly polymorphic nature, can make identification

of problematic aphid species difficult.









Biology and Behavior

The life cycle of many aphid species can become rather complex. Variations in

hosts, reproduction, biology, and activity can occur within the annual cycle of a single

species (Kring 1959). Aphids can typically be grouped as monoecious (nonhost-

alternating), or heteroecious (host alternating). Monoecious species require only one or a

few related host plant species while heteroecious species generally require two or more

different species of plants in separate families to complete their lifecycle.

Reproduction is accomplished through sexual (holocyclic) and/or parthenogenetic

(anholocyclic) forms. In warm climates, sexual forms tend not to be as important as in

colder regions (Miyazaki 1987). Females that reproduce parthenogenetically are

viviparous, and can produce a new generation in as little as a week. With a short

reproductive and developmental time, numerous generations are possible within one

production season.

Dispersal is accomplished by alate or winged morphs while apterous or wingless

aphids typically remain restricted to the plant surface. During flight, alate aphids

respond strongly to visual stimuli and locate potential host plants by contrasting the soil

background with plant foliage (Kring 1972, Liburd et al. 1998). Aphids determine host

suitability after landing and making brief, shallow test probes with their stylets on

potential host plants. If the plant is not suitable, the aphid will move to another potential

host repeating the process. This behavior is especially important since transmission of

stylet-borne viruses can occur from these test probes before aphid management is

implemented (Nault 1997).

Aphids do not have chemosensory organs on the labium or tips of the mandibular

or maxillary stylets. Ingestion of plant fluids to the precibarium where chemosensilla are









located is required for host recognition. If the ingested fluids do not induce

phagostimulation, extravasation of fluids back through the precibarium and maxillary

food canal occurs. It is within the maxillary food canal where it is believed that the main

attachment of these potyviruses, the most important group of aphid-transmitted viruses,

occurs and where transmission to hosts can take place (Nault 1997). Additionally, these

viruses can reach epidemic proportions as a result of secondary spread.

Monitoring

Aphids generally respond to two different wavelengths of light. Once alate aphids

have finished development of wings, they become strongly attracted to shortwave or

ultraviolet light. This attraction induces the aphid to fly toward the sky in either a high

level migratory flight, which can last from one to several hours, or a low level non-

migratory flight over short distances (Kring 1972). Since a correlation can generally be

seen between the number of alate aphids trapped and the percentage of virus infection for

a particular crop (Zitter and Simons 1980), water pan-traps have been used as an effective

monitoring tool (Heathcote 1957, Adlerz 1987). Pan-traps allow for an efficient means to

track aphid activity within a particular field.

High wavelengths of light, such as yellow and green, tend to stimulate alighting

and settling behavior (Kring 1967, Webb et al. 1994). In general, plants that show

obvious yellowing symptoms will have the greater aphid populations (Zitter and Simons

1980). For this reason, in-situ counts can be an effective way to monitor the population

dynamics that can exist between plants within a given area.

Management of Whiteflies and Aphids

Complications in management can arise from a combination of factors involved in

the reproductive rates of whitefly and aphid species. These factors can include food









quality, host plant species, natural enemies, and temperature. Although many of these

factors are uncontrollable by growers, food quality can be regulated to some extent by the

application of fertilizer and/or other chemicals. Augmentative releases of certain natural

enemies can also be accomplished with some degree of efficiency.

Economic losses via virus or plant disorders have forced growers to use seedlings

crossprotected with mild virus strains for resistance (Cho et al. 1992). However, the

highly variable nature of these virus strains (Lisa and Lecoq 1984) and the fact that

homopteran pests can injure plants in several ways (Jackson et. al 2000) makes the

success of using cross-protection uncertain in infected areas. Furthermore, cucurbit

plantings may be prone to attack by several viral diseases within the same planting

period, making it difficult to develop varieties that are resistant to all of these strains

(Purcifull et al. 1988). Another problem is that plants developed to be physically

resistant to a specific insect pest may also have a detrimental impact on its associated

parasitoid by disrupting their searching behavior or entrapping them (Gruenhagen and

Perring 1999), subsequently reducing natural control of insect pests.

Synthetic Mulch

Synthetic mulches (i.e., polyethylene films) are an efficient means for reducing

many crop pests (Costa et al. 1994, Csizinszky et al. 1997, Smith et al. 2000). In general,

they regulate soil temperature and can increase the speed of above ground plant growth

(Schalk et al. 1979, Decoteau et al. 1989), while also affecting the flight pattern and

behavior of insect pest species (Zitter and Simons 1980, Costa and Robb 1999). This

ability to attract or repel insects can be important in reducing the incidence and severity

of pest species and any associated diseases. Utilization of reflective mulches resulted in

marked decreases in whitefly (Csizinszky et al. 1995) and aphid (Alderz and Everett









1968, Wolfenbarger and Moore 1968) populations, and has been used as an alternative to

conventional pesticides and white or black synthetic mulches. Other color mulches such

as yellow and red have attracted aphids and whiteflies, respectively, in the past

(Wolfenbarger and Moore 1968, Csizinszky et al. 1995). However, disposal of synthetic

mulches following crop termination can be problematic and may interfere with routine

farming practices such as cultivation. Additionally, a reduction in the effectiveness in

synthetic mulches can occur as the area of foliage increases throughout the growing

season. One alternative to synthetic mulch is the use of water-soluble biodegradable

silver spray mulch (Liburd et al. 1998). However, weathering, dust, and soil

accumulation can decrease the effectiveness and make biodegradable mulches more

attractive to aphids (Summers et al. 1995).

Living Mulch

Living mulch (diversified crops) increases diversity and the overall sustainability of

many cropping systems. They are cover crops grown within a marketable cash crop to

reduce erosion, enhance fertility, improve soil quality, and suppress weeds while also

reducing the incidence and severity of pest insects. Root (1973) suggested two

hypotheses as to why herbivore loads are reduced in these diverse crop habitats. The

resource concentration hypothesis predicts that herbivores will more readily find,

reproduce, and remain in monoculture environments of their host plants because

resources are more localized and habitable within these areas. His other hypothesis

theorized that predators and parasitoids are more effective in floristically diverse

ecosystems because of the availability of greater and more diverse food resources and

refuge.









Living mulches can also be thought of as a "protection crop" if planted within or

around a crop field. These companion crops can provide additional feeding sites for

potential infectious insects, reducing the spread of non-persistent viruses and disorders

throughout the cash crop. Toba et al. (1977) demonstrated that a "protection crop" of

wheat, Triticum aestivum, delayed the frequency and severity of aphid transmitted non-

persistent viruses in cantaloupe. In a similar study, Bemays (1999) showed that the

whitefly, Bemisia tabaci Gennadius, spent less time on plants exposed to environments

containing multiple plant species. These whiteflies also demonstrated greater levels of

restlessness compared to whiteflies in monoculture environments, which led Bernays to

suggest that whitefly movement within field situations could be limited in homogenous

environments.

Several studies using living mulch have shown that fewer whiteflies (Hooks et al.

1998), aphids (Smith 1969, Kloen and Altieri 1990, Costello and Altieri 1995, Hooks et

al. 1998), and occurrences of insect transmitted diseases (Power 1987, Hussein and

Samad 1993, Hooks et al. 1998) occur in habitats with diversified crops compared with

monoculture crops. Hooks et al. (1998) planted zucchini (Cucurbitapepo) between

rows containing buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) and yellow mustard (Sinapsis alba),

and found that densities ofA. gossypii and B. argentifolii and the conveyance of aphid-

transmitted diseases and SSL disorder on zucchini were reduced in these living mulch

treatments when compared to monoculture plantings.

Impact on Yield

Despite the effectiveness of standard white mulch for production practices, studies

conducted by Adlerz and Everett (1968) have shown that white polyethylene can increase

the number of aphids trapped when compared to bare ground. This can have negative









impacts to future yield if the pressures of aphid-borne viruses are high within a field. In

addition, the loss in efficiency of synthetic mulches due to weathering and plant

concealment have led some to look at alternative mulching systems for cucurbits (Hooks

et al. 1998). Unfortunately, the potential gain in pest suppression by living mulches may

be offset by delayed development and yield reduction from competition between the crop

and mulch (Andow 1986).

It is my primary goal to make valid comparisons between living and synthetic

mulching systems. By focusing attention on what works more effectively, we can

develop new strategies for pest management suppression, which will increase yields,

lower production costs, and further our understanding of the rationale behind these pest

responses. In addition, by decreasing the amount of chemicals used, we can develop

ecologically sustainable approaches to pest management.














CHAPTER 3
EFFECTS OF LIVING AND SYNTHETIC MULCH ON THE POPULATION
DYNAMICS OF HOMOPTERAN PESTS, THEIR ASSOCIATED NATURAL
ENEMIES, AND INSECT-TRANSMITTED PLANT IMPAIRMENTS

Cucurbits are an important crop in Florida with a farm gate value estimated at

over $170 million annually. Currently, production is threatened due to crop plant

physiological disorders and insect-transmitted diseases associated with whiteflies and

aphids. Control of these key pests has involved the use of several insecticide applications

throughout the growing season. However, due to the variable nature of these pests, and

problems associated with resistance to insecticides, the management of whiteflies and

aphids has become a maj or problem for growers throughout the world. Additionally,

frequent insecticide use has negative impacts on the environment and non-target

organisms such as natural enemies.

The use of mulches has successfully reduced population densities of whiteflies

and aphids, while also delaying the onset and spread of associated insect-borne diseases.

Studies have shown that reflective (synthetic) mulch offers significant protection from

these pests compared to bare ground plantings (Brown et al. 1993, Summers et al. 1995,

Summers and Stapleton 2002). In addition, studies conducted by Hooks et al. (1998)

have shown that living mulches are an effective means for reducing multiple pest

complexes and the incidence of associated diseases compared with bare ground.

However, there is debate as to which mulching system (i.e., reflective or living mulches)

offers the best management potential. A better understanding of pest responses to these









systems will help develop new and effective approaches that can be integrated with

current management practices.

A number of predators and parasitoids of whiteflies and aphids are known.

However, little information is available on how living and synthetic mulches affect insect

natural enemies in zucchini crops. To maintain a successful IPM program in cucurbit

production, it is essential to know how mulches affect natural enemies that may regulate

whitefly and aphid populations. In addition, understanding which natural enemies are

present opens the door for future research to be conducted on the efficiency of these

insects for control of zucchini pests, and prevents unnecessary efforts to introduce natural

enemies that are already present. Discovering which mulching system offers the best

habitat for these beneficial could help shape production practices in the future.

Specific objectives for this research were to investigate and compare the effects of

reflective (synthetic) and living mulch on the population dynamics of homopteran pests,

their associated natural enemies, and insect transmitted plant impairments. In addition, I

wanted to investigate the advantages of using living and reflective mulch over the

standard (bare ground or white) mulching systems. Field trials were conducted using

standard production procedures. Studies were run during the fall growing season because

the incidence and severity of both aphids and whiteflies are high at this time, and their

effects could be easily examined.

Methods

Field Trials

Field research was conducted at the University of Florida, Plant Science Research

and Education Unit located in Citra, Florida. Zucchini, Cucurbitapepo L., cv.

'Ambassador', were planted on raised beds spaced 1.2 m apart. Zucchini were planted









from seed and later thinned to approximately 1 meter between plants. Mulches used

during these studies included two synthetic mulches (white and reflective), two living

mulches (buckwheat and white clover), and a bare ground control. Buckwheat,

Fagopyrum esculentum Moench, and white clover, Trifolium repens L., mulches were

seeded by hand. In 2002, individual plot size was 15 X 14 m and sown with 8 rows.

Living mulches were planted after zucchini seeding on top of rows. In 2003 individual

plot size was reduced to 14 X 12 m and sown with 7 rows. Living mulches were seeded

1 week before zucchini planting between rows. Treatments were replicated four times in

a randomized complete block design with blocks spaced 15 m apart.

Two techniques were used to sample whitefly and aphid adults, 1) traps and 2)

sampling the foliage.

Trap sampling

Adult whiteflies were monitored using unbaited Pherocon AM traps (Yellow

Sticky, YS) placed within interior zucchini rows. Trap heights were adjusted relative to

the middle of the plant to improve monitoring efficiency. Each treatment plot contained

a total of three YS traps. One trap was placed in the center of the treatment plot, and two

others at opposite ends of the treatment plot forming a diagonal line. All YS traps were

placed in the field 2 weeks after zucchini planting. YS traps were left in the field for a

24-hour duration once per week until final harvest.

Alate aphids were monitored using blue water pan-traps (Packer Ware bowls,

Gainesville, FL). Pan-traps had a diameter of 15.5 cm and contained approximately 250

mL of soapy water. Traps were placed at mid-plant height within interior zucchini rows.

Three water pan-traps were used per plot. Traps were placed in the field 2 weeks after

zucchini planting. The arrangement of the water pan-traps and the time period in which









they were exposed in the treatment plots were similar to YS traps. In 2003, clear water

pan-traps (Pioneer/Tri-State Plastics Inc., Dickson, KY) were used in addition to blue

pan-traps. Clear pan-traps were square with a diameter of 15.5 cm. One clear water pan-

trap was placed in the center of each plot, and treated in a similar manner as the blue pan-

traps.

Foliar Sampling

Nine plants located on outside rows of each plot were randomly selected for

counting adult whiteflies and aphids (apterae and alate). Zucchini plants within the

outside rows of plots were chosen, so that any damage that occurred from repeated

sampling would be restricted, and not interfere with yield data taken from inside rows.

Pest sampling was initiated 4 weeks after planting, and conducted weekly until final

harvest. One leaf was sampled per zucchini plant, which was partitioned according to

plant stratum (upper n=3; medium n=3, and lower n=3 leaves) allowing a total of nine

leaves sampled per plot (36 leaves/treatment). If aphid densities were high (> 100 per

leaf), counts were taken from half of the leaf and used to estimate the number on the

whole leaf. All whitefly adults, aphids, aphid mummies, and other pest species

encountered on the leaf surfaces were recorded.

To estimate the number of whitefly nymphs, 1-inch diameter circular leaf disks

were removed using a cork borer from 9 leaves (selected from foliar counts). Leaves

were stored in plastic bags, and transported to the laboratory within an ice chest. Leaf

disks were removed from one side of a leaf halfway between the leaf tip and petiole, and

halfway between the mid-vein and leaf edge (Gould and Naranjo 1999). Leaf disks were









removed in the Fruit and Vegetable IPM laboratory, and examined under a 40x-dissecting

microscope. All whitefly nymphs encountered on the leaf surfaces were recorded.

Natural enemies were sampled using in-situ counts. Leaves from 6 plants located

in the outside rows of each plot were randomly selected. In 2002, nine leaves from each

plant were randomly selected, and in 2003 six leaves from each plant were randomly

selected for visual identification of beneficial arthropods. Sampling was initiated 4

weeks after planting, and conducted weekly until final harvest.

Physiological Disorder Evaluation

Visual observations for symptoms of squash silverleaf disorder were recorded

weekly from ten randomly selected zucchini plants within the interior rows of each

treatment plot. The percentage of plants displaying visual symptoms of silverleaf

(silvering on adaxial leaf surface) was taken until final harvest. Silverleaf symptoms

were rated on the new leaf growth, with the severity rated on a scale of 0-5 as indicated

by Paris et al. (1987).

Disease Identification

After harvest of 2003, leaves from four randomly selected plants exhibiting virus

infection were collected from each plot, and taken to the University of Florida, Vegetable

Entomology Laboratory for disease identification. Each sample was tested for 8 viral

diseases (CMV, PRSV-W, SMV, TSV, TSWV, WLMV, WMV-2, ZYMV), using ELISA

(enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) procedures specific for each virus. All plates

containing samples were marked for visual positives and read on an ELISA plate reader.

Statistical Analysis

Data from arthropod counts and physiological disorder sampling were analyzed

using repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). All data were square root









transformed, and means separated with least significant differences (LSD) to show

treatment differences. Differences were considered significant when P < 0.05.

Results

Trap Sampling

In 2002, YS traps within plots containing white mulch had significantly more

whitefly adults, Bemisia argentifolii, than the bare ground, reflective, clover and

buckwheat treatments (Table 3-1). Traps within buckwheat mulch had significantly

fewer adult whitefly populations compared with white, reflective, and bare ground

treatments, but similar numbers to clover mulch. Similarly in 2003, YS traps within

buckwheat mulch had significantly fewer adult whiteflies than white, clover, and bare

ground with the exception of reflective mulch (Table 3-1). Throughout the 2003 season

traps within reflective mulch had significantly fewer whitefly adults compared with all

other treatments.

During 2002, blue pan-traps within white mulch treatments caught significantly

more alate aphids compared with each of the other treatments, which did not differ

significantly (Table 3-2). Similarly in 2003, more alate aphids were caught over white

mulch compared with all other treatments (Table 3-2). Unlike in 2002, pan-traps within

reflective mulch had significantly fewer alate aphids than white, buckwheat, and clover

but was borderline insignificant with the bare ground treatment. Similarly, the number of

alate aphids trapped in clear pan-traps was also significantly less in reflective than white,

bare ground, and clover but was similar to the buckwheat mulch treatment (Table 3-2).

In 2003, the total number of alate aphids captured in clear pan-traps compared with the

number captured in blue pan-traps was not significantly different (F =3.63, df = 1,470, P

= 0.0573). However, when comparing these traps by treatment, significant differences









were found between trap types in bare ground using LSD test pairwise comparison (t= -

2.76, Pr > I t I = 0.0060) (Figure 3-1).

Foliar Sampling

In 2002, plants within white mulch had significantly more adult whiteflies than

bare ground, buckwheat, and clover but a similar number to reflective mulch (Table 3-3).

The number of apterous aphids did not differ significantly between treatments (Table 3-

3). Additionally, the number of alate aphids did not differ significantly between

treatments (Table 3-3). In 2003, plants grown on bare ground had significantly higher

numbers of adult whiteflies than white, reflective, and buckwheat but similar numbers to

clover mulch (Table 3-4). Significantly fewer apterous aphids were recorded on plants

within reflective mulch than white, clover, and bare ground but similar numbers to

buckwheat mulch (Table 3-4). Similarly, significantly fewer alate aphids were recorded

on plants in reflective mulch compared with all other treatments (Table 3-4). Data

collected from both field seasons reveal that aphids and whiteflies were the dominant

pests recorded in the field. In 2002 whiteflies comprised the majority of pest individuals

sampled (Figure 3-2), while in 2003, aphids comprised the majority of pest individuals

(Figure 3-3). In addition, leaf-mining flies were a minor pest in 2003, but were never

recorded in 2002 (Figure 3-2 and 3-3).

In 2002, there were no significant differences in the number of immature

whiteflies found between treatments (Table 3-5). In 2003, plants grown on white mulch

had significantly higher numbers of immature whiteflies than reflective, clover, and bare

ground but similar numbers to buckwheat mulch (Table 3-5). Plant strata played an

important role in feeding location of immature whiteflies. Significantly more immature









whiteflies were recorded on the lower plant stratum of zucchini plants compared with the

middle or top plant strata for all treatments in 2002 (Figure 3-4) and 2003 (Figure 3-5).

In 2002, there were no significant differences in the number of natural enemies

found between treatments (Table 3-6). In 2003, clover mulch had significantly higher

numbers of natural enemies than white, reflective, and bare ground but similar numbers

to buckwheat mulch (Table 3-6). Data collected from both field seasons show that

arthropods in the order Araneae were the dominant natural enemy (Figure 3-6 and 3-7).

These representations of the percentage of natural enemies found within the field

revealed significantly more arthropod diversity in 2003.

Physiological Disorder Evaluation

In 2002, significantly more symptoms of squash silverleaf disorder were recorded

in plants grown on bare ground than white, clover, and reflective but similar numbers to

buckwheat mulch (Table 3-7). Throughout the season plants on reflective mulch had

significantly less severe symptoms of silverleaf than all other mulch treatments. Results

in 2003 were different from those recorded in 2002. Plants on white mulch had

significantly more severe symptoms of squash silverleaf disorder than all other treatments

while plants on bare ground and clover mulch had significantly less symptoms (Table 3-

7).

Disease Identification

Data taken at the end of the 2003 season revealed that two viruses, PRSV-W and

WMV-2, were present in the field. ELISA tests found four cases of PRSV-W within

plants on the bare ground and clover mulch treatments, and one case each in the white,

reflective, and buckwheat mulch. Two cases of WMV-2 were found within plants on the

bare ground treatments, and one case in the clover mulch.









Discussion

During the 2002-2003 field seasons, results from trap catches showed that plants

grown on white mulch consistently had higher populations of adult whiteflies and aphids

compared to the other mulch treatments including bare ground. These results are

consistent with Adlerz and Everett (1968), who showed that white (polyethylene)

mulches had higher populations of aphids than both reflective mulch and bare ground.

However, it is unclear why whiteflies responded more strongly to white mulch since

previous research has shown that they are attracted to yellow colors in the visible light

spectra (Mound 1962).

Foliar counts in 2002 showed that whitefly adults were significantly higher in

plants grown on synthetic mulches compared to living mulches. However, in 2003 plants

on reflective mulch had consistently fewer adult whiteflies and aphids alatee and

apterous) compared to other treatments. Foliar counts also revealed that for both years

buckwheat performed better than the clover mulch in repelling alate and apterous aphids.

Overall, both trap and foliar counts showed that plants grown on reflective and

buckwheat mulches consistently had fewer incidences of adult whiteflies and aphids

compared with the other mulch treatments including bare ground.

The effectiveness of mulches for controlling immature whitefly numbers, and the

incidence of squash silverleaf disorder were inconsistent between years. This may have

been due to the fact that whitefly adult and nymph populations were higher in 2002 than

in 2003. Similarly, silverleaf severity was higher in 2002 compared with 2003. Overall,

reflective mulch performed better at reducing nymphal whitefly populations, and had

plants with significantly less incidence of squash silverleaf compared with white mulch.









During 2002 and 2003 it was clear that the location of immature whiteflies was

restricted to the lower plant strata for all treatments. These results are consistent with

Simmons (1994) who saw 90 to 95% of Bemisia tabaci eggs and nymphs on the lower

plant strata of various crops. Higher nitrogen content in older leaves (Bentz et al. 1995),

or increased protection from pesticides, natural enemies, and environmental factors

offered by leaves located on the lower plant strata (Chu et al. 1995, Liu and Stansly

1995), may have played a role in the location of nymphal whiteflies. Similarly, older

zucchini leaves have less dense trichomes, which can allow for easier oviposition of eggs,

and attachment by feeding immatures (Kishaba et al. 1992, Butler et al. 1986, McAuslane

1996). In either case, these results suggest that for the most efficient sampling of

nymphal B. argentifolii populations in zucchini, counts should be taken on the lower

plant strata.

In 2003, a significant increase in the diversity of natural enemies was seen

throughout all treatments. This may have been due to the fact that no insecticides were

used throughout the entire field season. In 2002, two reduced-risk insecticides, Admire

and Spinosad, were applied early to zucchini plants on two separate dates for control of

whiteflies and cabbage looper, respectively. Additionally, results in 2003 clearly show

that the living mulch treatments had higher natural enemy populations than the synthetic

mulch and bare ground treatments. These results support the natural enemies hypothesis

proposed by Root (1973) that increased plant diversity leads to increased natural enemy

densities. However, there were no differences in the species diversity of natural enemies

found between treatments (data not shown).









In 2002, zucchini plants never exhibited visual symptoms associated with viral

diseases. This may have been due in part to the low incidence of aphids seen within the

field for that year. Despite high aphid numbers and the occurrences of two associated

viral diseases in 2003, visual symptoms of WMV-2 and PRSV-W did not occur until the

final weeks of harvest, and had little affect on plant growth and yield. Although white

mulch had a greater incidence of pests, it had only one case of PRSV-W. Adlerz and

Everett (1968) noted that although more aphids were caught over white mulch compared

with reflective and bare ground, the incidence of viral diseases was significantly less than

the bare ground. They believed that this occurred because one or more of the aphid

species attracted to white mulch were not effective in virus transmission. Overall, bare

ground and clover mulch treatments had more zucchini plants infected with viral diseases

although the numbers were small.

Despite limitations involved with field research (i.e., weather variation and

fluctuating pest numbers), patterns were seen in arthropod responses to the different

mulch treatments. Overall, results from this research will help to develop successful

cultural management practices that establish ecologically friendly measures, which

provide growers with sustainable approaches to pest management. In addition, these

results can be used to design more extensive studies so that the precise components

responsible for insect responses can be determined, and more effective IPM programs can

be developed.










Table 3-1. Mean number of adult whiteflies per YS trap in Citra, FL

Mean SEM


2002 a

White 15.54 1.83 a

Reflective 9.82 + 1.24 c

Buckwheat 7.71 + 1.07 d

Clover 10.29 1.50 cd

Control 13.37 + 1.80 b
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P
aF = 13.86; df 4, 363; P < 0.0001
bF= 30.45; df = 4, 312; P< 0.0001


2003 b

3.60 + 0.46 a

1.07 + 0.20 c

1.83 + 0.23 b

4.60 + 0.74 a

4.25 0.62 a
= 0.05, LSD test)










Table 3-2. Mean number of alate aphids per pan-trap in Citra, FL

Mean SEM


2002 a


2003 b


White 1.47 0.19 a 0.78 0.10 a

Reflective 0.27 0.06 b 0.17 0.05 c

Buckwheat 0.48 0.09 b 0.44 0.09 b

Clover 0.50 0.09 b 0.43 0.08 b

Control 0.46 0.09 b 0.32 0.06 bc
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P
aF= 16.31; df= 4, 363; P < 0.0001
bF= 8.45; df= 4, 312; P< 0.0001
cF = 4.28, df = 4, 72; P = 0.0036


2003 c
(clear pan-traps)

1.21 + 0.35 a

0.17 0.08 c

0.29 + 0.11 be

0.83 0.30 ab

0.88 + 0.23 a
S0.05, LSD test)










Table 3-3. Mean number of aphids and whiteflies per zucchini leaf in Citra, FL (2002)

Mean SEM

Whiteflies (adult) a Aphids (apterous) b Aphids (alate)c

White 12.60 + 2.33 a 0.54 + 0.31 0.21 0.07

Reflective 12.31 3.11 ab 0.15 0.10 0.22 0.07

Buckwheat 5.90 + 1.60 cd 0.63 0.38 0.13 + 0.05

Clover 5.65 + 1.71 d 0.24 + 0.16 0.36 + 0.08

Control 8.94 + 1.80 bc 0.54 0.22 0.25 0.08
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P = 0.05, LSD test)
aF= 7.68; df= 4, 312; P < 0.0001
bF= 1.48; df = 4, 312; P = 0.2070
CF= 2.26; df= 4, 312;P = 0.0627










Table 3-4. Mean number of aphids and whiteflies per zucchini leaf in Citra, FL (2003)

Mean SEM


Whiteflies (adult) a Aphids (apterous) b

White 4.12 0.91 bc 9.00 3.40 ab

Reflective 2.70 + 0.68 c 2.12 0.87 c

Buckwheat 2.85 0.76 c 4.67 1.68 bc

Clover 4.61 0.85 ab 12.61 + 3.87 a

Control 7.33 1.54 a 7.73 2.17 ab
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P
aF = 4.44; df= 4, 142; P = 0.0021
bF= 3.87; df= 4, 142; P = 0.0051
CF= 7.67; df= 4, 142; P < 0.0001


Aphids alatee)

1.03 + 0.22 ab

0.06 0.04 c

0.73 0.24 b

2.12 + 0.69 a

1.97 + 0.52 ab
0.05, LSD test)











Table 3-5. Mean number of immature whiteflies per leaf in Citra, FL

Mean SEM


2002 a

White 9.20+ 1.53

Reflective 12.61 + 2.64

Buckwheat 8.05 + 1.31

Clover 7.32+ 1.23

Control 15.22 + 2.64
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P
aF= 1.68; df= 4, 1032; P = 0.1534
bF= 2.55; df = 4, 688; P = 0.0380


2003 b

0.95 0.22 a

0.38 0.11 b

0.58 0.15 ab

0.35 + 0.11 b

0.40 + 0.10 b
= 0.05, LSD test)










Table 3-6. Mean number of natural enemies per leaf in Citra, FL

Mean SEM

2002 a 2003 b

White 0.04 + 0.02 0.33 + 0.04 be

Reflective 0.04 0.02 0.26 0.04 c

Buckwheat 0.02 0.01 0.41 0.05 ab

Clover 0.01 + 0.01 0.48 0.06 a

Control 0.06 0.02 0.28 0.04 c
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P = 0.05, LSD test)
aF= 1.54; df= 4, 1032; P= 0.1886
bF= 3.98; df = 4, 560; P = 0.0034










Table 3-7. Mean silverleaf score per treatment in Citra, FL

Mean SEM

2002 a

White 4.09 0.07 b

Reflective 3.69 0.09 d

Buckwheat 4.20 + 0.07 ab

Clover 3.93 0.10 c

Control 4.39 0.07 a
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P
aF= 15.34; df= 4, 768; P < 0.0001
bF= 33.31; df = 4, 1152;P<0.0001


2003 b

1.51 + 0.06 a

1.35 + 0.06 b

1.10 + 0.05 c

1.02 + 0.06 cd

0.97 0.06 d
= 0.05, LSD test)













* Blue pan-Iraps
SClear pan-Iraps


Reflective Buckwheat
Treatment


Clover Bare Ground


Figure 3-1. Mean number of alate aphids per pan-trap type in Citra, FL (2003)


White















9%
0


*Aphids
* Whiteflies
[ Lepidopterans


Figure 3-2. Percentage of total pest individuals sampled in Citra, FL categorized by
taxon (2002)
















4%
1% I


32% Aphids
32%
0 Whiteflies
O Lepidopterans

63% Dipterans








Figure 3-3. Percentage of total pest individuals sampled in Citra, FL categorized by
taxon (2003)
















CL


#A04


04
4--
a,

ju o

4-O
E -
46- U)
E2
BS"


0
(U


O Top
SMiddle
* Bottom


Clover Bare Ground


Treatment





Figure 3-4. Populations of immature whiteflies on zucchini plant strata in Citra, FL
(2002)


Reflective Buckwheat


White














3
-
2 2.5
--

a)
2

a 1.5
CA
1

E 0.5

0


Clover Bare Ground


Figure 3-5. Populations of immature whiteflies on zucchini plant strata in Citra, FL
(2003)


Reflective Buckwheat
Treatment


White


O Top
Middle
* Bottom















8%


M Araneae
0 Coleoptera
o Hymenoptera




89%





Figure 3-6. Percentage of total natural enemies sampled in Citra, FL categorized by order
(2002)















3% 2%
7%

8% Araneae
39% m Coleoptera
o Heteroptera

12% O Diptera
Hymenoptera
Neuroptera
0 Other


29%





Figure 3-7. Percentage of total natural enemies sampled in Citra, FL categorized by order
(2003)














CHAPTER 4
IMPACT OF LIVING AND SYNTHETIC MULCHES ON ZUCCHINI PLANT SIZE
AND MARKETABLE YIELD

Florida is a major producer of fresh market cucurbits. Currently, production

practices involve the use of mulches for control of crop pests, regulation of soil

temperature, and weed management. Traditionally, farmers have used white, or white on

black mulches in the fall and black in the winter and spring. Although there is no

documentation of the use of reflective and living mulches in cucurbits in Florida, these

two types of mulches have been used as an alternative to the traditional white or black

synthetic mulches in other crops. It is established that living and synthetic mulches can

affect the growth and marketable yield of many crops (Andow 1991, Csizinszky et al.

1997, Greer and Dole 2003). However, field studies to compare plant growth and yield

in cucurbits are currently lacking.

Synthetic and living mulches repel or attract aphids and whiteflies, and reduce the

incidence of associated insect-borne diseases (Chapter 3). In addition, they regulate soil

moisture, and temperature, which may lead to increases in above ground plant growth.

Plant growth is an important factor in zucchini production because older seedlings are

more able to compensate for damage from insect pest attack, and yields are usually not

affected (Brewer et al. 1987). Vulnerable stages that limit plant yield occur early during

plant development, which makes management of insect pests, and regulation of abiotic

factors essential during this period.









Although mulches are used effectively in a number of cropping systems, there may

be potential drawbacks depending on the type of mulch chosen for cultural management.

For instance, disposal of synthetic mulches following crop termination can be

problematic and may interfere with routine farming practices such as cultivation.

Additionally, a reduction in the effectiveness of synthetic mulches can occur as the area

of foliage increases throughout the growing season (Adlerz and Everett 1968, Csizinszky

et al. 1995). Alternatively, living mulches can become problematic because of delayed

development and yield reduction from competition between the crop and mulch (Andow

1986). In addition, it is often difficult to choose the proper living mulch that will reduce

pest levels, but not interfere with crop growth, yield, or production practices (Hooks and

Johnson 2001).

Our goals were to assess the impact of living and synthetic mulches on zucchini

plant size and marketable yield. For successful crop management, an understanding of

the effectiveness of these mulches is essential. Production practices, which increase

economic gains while reducing negative impacts on the environment, are important for

the development and integration of management tactics in an IPM program.

Methods

Field Trials

Field research was conducted at the University of Florida, Plant Science Research

and Education Unit located in Citra, Florida. Zucchini, Cucurbitapepo L., cv.

'Ambassador', were planted on raised beds spaced 1.2 m apart. Zucchini were planted

from seed and later thinned to approximately 1 meter between plants. Mulches used

during these studies included two synthetic mulches (white and reflective), two living

mulches (buckwheat and white clover), and a bare ground control. Buckwheat,









Fagopyrum esculentum Moench, and white clover, Trifolium repens L., mulches were

seeded by hand. In 2002, individual plots were 15 X 14 m and sown with 8 rows. Living

mulches were planted after zucchini seeding on top of rows. In 2003 individual plot size

was reduced to 14 X 12 m, and sown with 7 rows. Living mulches were seeded between

rows 1 week before zucchini planting. Treatments were replicated four times in a

randomized complete block design with blocks spaced 15 m apart.

Plant Size Sampling

In 2003, ten plants were selected randomly from the inside rows of each treatment

plot after final harvest. Plant dimensions (width and height) were measured in

centimeters using a measuring tape. To collect data on plant width we measured from the

distal ends of opposing lateral shoots located at the base of zucchini plants. Height data

were collected by measuring from the base of zucchini stems to the terminal bud. Results

were recorded in the field.

Yield Sampling

Inside rows of all treatment plots were evaluated for yield throughout the 2002-03

field seasons. Inside rows were thinned in all plots so that the number of zucchini plants

was equal in all rows sampled. During harvest, marketable zucchini from these rows

were collected and weighed in the field weekly, and all data were recorded. Harvest

sampling continued for 3 weeks in 2002, and for 4 weeks in 2003.

Statistical Analysis

Data from plant size sampling were analyzed using ANOVA with means separated

using Tukey's test (c = 0.05). Data from yield sampling were analyzed using repeated

measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). Means were separated with least significant









differences (LSD) to show treatment differences. Differences were considered

significant when P < 0.05.

Results

Plant Size Sampling

In 2003, data from plant size sampling showed that plants from all mulch

treatments were significantly larger than those in the bare ground treatment for width (F

= 19.80; df = 4, 92; P < 0.0001) [Figure 4-1]. All mulched plants were significantly taller

than those grown on bare ground, with the exception of those grown with clover mulch,

which were not significantly taller (F = 20.54; df= 4, 92; P < 0.0001) [Figure 4-2].

Plants grown with reflective mulch had dimensions more than 20% larger than those

located in bare ground, and were significantly larger than zucchini plants grown with

white, buckwheat, and clover mulch.

Yield Sampling

In 2002, plants in plots treated with reflective and white mulch had significantly

higher yields than those in the bare ground, buckwheat, and clover mulch treatments

(Table 4-1). In fact, plants grown with white and reflective mulch had 84% and 87%

more zucchini fruit than those on bare ground. The situation was even more dramatic

when 95% more zucchini fruit were harvested from plants in the white and reflective

mulch treatments compared with those grown with living mulches (Table 4-1). Yield

data from the 2003 trial were similar although less dramatic. Significantly more zucchini

fruit were harvested from plants treated with white and reflective mulch compared with

the other treatments (Table 4-1). Unlike 2002, yields from plants treated with living

mulch, specifically buckwheat, were only 47% lower than those grown with synthetic









mulch. However, plants grown with clover and those on bare ground produced almost

two thirds fewer zucchini fruit as plants in synthetic mulch plots.

Discussion

Throughout the 2002-03 field seasons, plants grown with synthetic mulches had

significantly higher yields than those grown with living mulch or on bare ground.

Additionally, reflective mulch produced significantly larger plants than all other

treatments. Although plants grown with white mulch had significantly higher yields than

those with buckwheat mulch, there were no significant differences in plant size. These

results show that reflective mulch performed better at both increasing plant size and yield

compared with other mulch types evaluated.

Although plants on white mulch consistently had higher aphid and whitefly

populations than other mulch treatments (Chapter 3), there were no significant

differences between white and reflective mulch when comparing yield. It seems that the

added benefits that synthetic mulches provide, such as regulation of soil temperature and

moisture, greatly increased plant growth so that the factors associated with homopteran

feeding were not a significant issue. Additionally, the deleterious effects of competition

from the living mulches on zucchini yield outweighed any positive benefits they may

have had on reducing aphid and whitefly pest populations (Chapter 3). Although

silverleaf has been known to reduce yields (Costa et al. 1994), it did not appear to be a

major factor in this study. This was probably because silverleaf increased in severity

when zucchini plants were older. Additionally in 2003, aphid-transmitted viruses did not

affect the productivity of zucchini plants because symptoms appeared during the final

weeks of harvest.









During both years of the experiment there were challenges in determining the

optimum planting time and placement of living mulches within their respective plots. In

2002, living mulches were planted in relatively close proximity to zucchini plants on top

of rows. Subsequently, zucchini plants within living mulch treatments were smaller and

looked less healthy than those within the synthetic mulch treatments. The close planting

of living mulch on top of rows with zucchini plants may have allowed competition for

resources (mineral salts and water), which may have stunted plant growth and affected

crop yield in these treatments.

In 2003, zucchini yields with living mulch increased substantially from the

previous year. This increase can be attributed to planting living mulches between crop

rows, and further away from zucchini plants. However, competition may still have been

a factor contributing to the significantly lower yields compared with the synthetic mulch

treatments.

It was my intention in 2003 to plant living mulches one month earlier than

zucchini. We believed that early season establishment of living mulches would reduce

yield loss because refuges for natural enemy populations would already be in place

during the sensitive stage of early zucchini growth. Unfortunately, heavy rains and wind

prevented successful establishment until one week before zucchini planting. In the

future, earlier planting dates for living mulches may improve results by increasing

zucchini yield. However, further research must be conducted in the timing and location

of living mulches within a crop for this method to be used successfully in any IPM






45


program. Overall, these results show that synthetic mulch (white and reflective) would

be more effective for increasing zucchini plant size and yield compared with the other

mulch types evaluated.










Table 4-1. Mean yield weight (kg) of zucchini in Citra, FL

Mean SEM

2002 a 2003 b

White 15.00 1.67 a 15.36 2.47 a

Reflective 18.24 2.46 a 15.75 2.21 a

Buckwheat 0.75 0.36 c 8.07 1.25 b

Clover 0.75 0.38 c 5.29 0.61 c

Bare Ground 2.36 0.67 b 5.56 + 0.83 c
Means followed by the same letter are not significantly different (P = 0.05, LSD test)
aF = 94.04; df= 4, 36; P < 0.0001
bF= 43.07; df = 4, 48; P < 0.0001















140
-
o 120
-

E100
-S

I 80

60-
0-
S40
0
S20-

0
-r 2


Clover Bare Ground


Figure 4-1. Mean plant width (cm) of zucchini in Citra, FL (2003)


Reflective Buckwheat

Treatment


White













'U

S60
C4O ba
b
E 50 C

Z40
P

I 30

20

a 10
a,


0 -!--


Reflective Buckwheat
Treatment


Clover Bare Ground


Figure 4-2. Mean plant height (cm) of zucchini in Citra, FL (2003)


White














CHAPTER 5
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

Research on the effects of different mulching systems within an agroecosystem has

allowed improvements to be made in current crop management practices. Reflective

mulch has shown clear benefits for pest suppression, and has increased yield for a variety

of agricultural crops. Alternatively, living mulches, including buckwheat and clover,

have been used successfully for reducing the incidence of aphids and whiteflies, and

increasing the number of potential natural enemy species within a variety of crops. In

addition, living mulches have been shown to reduce soil erosion and promote chemical

free choices for weed management.

Unfortunately, little work has been done in comparing the cost of implementing

synthetic versus living mulch. Understanding which mulching system is more efficient

for overall cucurbit management will help to develop IPM programs that provide growers

with technology that lowers the cost of pest suppression, increases yield, and is more

ecologically friendly.

Results from these studies suggest that reflective mulch provided the best overall

treatment for reducing whitefly and aphid populations, and the incidence of transmitted

diseases. In addition, reflective mulch had significantly larger zucchini plants than other

mulch treatments. White mulch had increased whitefly and aphid numbers when

compared with reflective mulch, but there were no significant differences in the yield

obtained.









Buckwheat mulch performed comparably to reflective mulch in pest suppression,

but it had significantly lower marketable yields. Living mulches had significantly higher

natural enemy populations compared with synthetic mulches and bare ground. However,

synthetic mulches had significantly higher yields compared with living mulches and bare

ground.

Economic gains and ease of incorporation play central roles for whether or not a

particular tactic is incorporated into an IPM program. Although synthetic mulches

provided the highest yields, they cost more when compared with living mulch, or no

mulch systems. The cost of buckwheat seeds used for one field season is $37. Although

buckwheat is an annual, it can be managed so that it produces seed throughout the year,

and does not require subsequent planting later in the season. White clover, a perennial,

plus innoculant cost $34 for one field season. Alternately, white mulch cost $120 for a

1.5 X 1829 meter roll, and reflective mulch was $145 for a 1.5 X 1219 meter roll.

Although the costs of living mulches are less than synthetic mulches, they require

additional upkeep and management. For instance, living mulches require additional

water, and must be maintained so that they don't become a weed problem later in the

year. In addition, it is often difficult to determine the best living mulch to use in a

cropping system containing multiple pest species.

Overall, synthetic mulches were easier to maintain. They require no establishment

period before zucchini is planted, and are not weather dependant. In addition, no special

watering features or additional drip lines were needed in plots treated with synthetic

mulch. Harvesting zucchini on synthetic mulches was also easier because individual









fruits were not concealed by extra vegetation, and competition never played a factor in

synthetic mulches as compared to living mulch plots.

When looking at an agroecosystem containing a number of organisms, the

complexity of interactions can limit the examination of every interaction simultaneously.

Thus, the experiments that were conducted only looked at the most relevant factors

involved with whitefly and aphid behavior, so that valid conclusions could be made for

future cucurbit management. During the course of my research several challenges arose

that may help open the door for future manipulative experiments.

A number of factors can play a role in the fluctuation of insect species. Throughout

my research, noticeable differences in weather and temperature were observed between

years. These differences may have helped shape the density of whitefly and aphid

populations during the course of the experiment. During 2002, whitefly populations were

significantly higher than those recorded in 2003 (Figure 1-1 and 1-2). Alternately, aphid

populations were significantly higher in 2003 than those recorded in 2002 (Figure 1-1

and 1-2). Despite these yearly fluctuations, definite whitefly and aphid behavioral

patterns were observed so that solid comparisons could be made.

Timing and establishment of living mulches were problematic for both field

seasons. During 2002, we were forced to plant the living mulch and zucchini at the same

time, which may have decreased the effectiveness of living mulch as a refuge for natural

enemies early in the season. During 2003, excessive rain postponed the planting date of

living mulches until 1 week before zucchini planting. Although this was sufficient time

for germination of the living mulch, mature mulch stands did not occur until several

weeks after zucchini planting. In the future, early season establishment of living mulches









may be helpful in reducing yield loss because refuges for natural enemy populations

would have been established during the sensitive stage of early zucchini growth.

Maintaining consistent field borders was difficult in these experiments because

research was conducted at an experimental research station. During the 2002 field

season, field borders consisted predominantly of grass species. During 2003, grass

species were again present, but a plot containing tomatoes was established several weeks

before ours on the north border. This tomato plot may have speeded up the migration

rates of aphids into our zucchini plots, allowing the spread of viral diseases that may

otherwise not have been present.

Currently, management of whiteflies and aphids requires the use of multiple IPM

tactics. The use of pesticides, oils, row-covers, and cross-protection in conjunction with

mulches may help to limit pest outbreaks and the occurrence of transmitted diseases. By

understanding how whiteflies and aphids respond to different mulching systems, we can

develop new and effective approaches for integration with current management practices.

In addition, further research is needed into the mechanisms involved with this

technology, so that future programs can be developed for a variety of other agricultural

crops.
















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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Daniel Lee Frank was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on January 26, 1978. He

graduated from South Sevier High School, Monroe, Utah in May 1996. Shortly after

graduation he went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he completed Army basic training and

advanced individual training for the Utah Army National Guard. Daniel later attended

Utah Valley State College (Orem), where he earned his AS in 1998. He then attended

Utah State University (Logan), where he earned his BS in biology (with a minor in

chemistry) in 2001. After graduation Daniel traveled extensively throughout South

America. Upon his arrival back to the United States, he decided to pursue a MS in

entomology at the University of Florida in 2002. After completing his degree

requirements, Daniel plans on working for a government agency conducting research in

integrated pest management (IPM).