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Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
Fort Pierce ARC Research Report RL-1974-5 "- ~1 4
INEFFICACY OF POLYBUTENE SPRAYS IN PROTECTING PEPPRS AGAINST
APHID-TRANSMITTED VIRUSES /
R. M. Sonoda,-/ N. C. Hayslip,1/ and'H/y/ Ozaki-
N C.andH- Oza o F ri
Aphids, primarily Myzus persicae Sulz., serve as vectors for several
pepper viruses in southeast Florida (5). Aphids moving into a field are
generally winged although apterous forms can be passively dispersed by
wind (3). Tissot (personal communication, 1973) observed that in relatively
calm air, winged aphids hovered above a target and landed by free-falling
to the surface. No directed flight to the lower surfaces was observed.
Observations of insects trapped in natural tacky materials on tar-flower
(Befaria racemosa Vent.) suggested that tacky materials sprayed on the
upper surface of pepper plants may immobilize alighting aphids and inter-
fere with feeding and virus transmission.
Tacky materials have been used on yellow-painted boards to monitor
aphid flights (5). Yellow-painted polyethylene sheets covered with
ashesive materials when placed around a cucumber field were found to reduce
the incidence of cucurbit viruses (1). The polybutenes, a group of tacky
compounds, have been used successfully in emulsified form to control mites
on several crops (2,4). Unemulsified polybutenes are used as barrier material
on trees and vines to prevent invasion by certain crawling insects. The
current study was initiated to determine the effect of polybutenes on colon-
ization of pepper plants by aphids, virus transmission and growth of pepper
Materials and Methods
The polybutene preparations used as foliar sprays were Chok-em, an
emulsified polybutene, obtained from Atlantic and Pacific Research, Inc. and
Tree Tanglefoot, a combination of polybutenes and hydrogenated castor oil, in
pressurized cans from Tanglefoot Company. Chok-em was diluted, one part to
40 parts distilled water, and sprayed on plants with a hand sprayer. Tree
Tanglefoot was sprayed directly from the can.
Early Cal-Wonder peppers were planted in flats of Jiffy Mix Plus and
grown for six weeks in a greenhouse at the Agricultural Research Center,
Fort Pierce. The upper surface of leaves and the growing points were
sprayed with both polybutene materials immediately before transporting to
the field. The plants were transplanted into two-row black-plastic-mulch
covered beds on December 5, 1973 at the Agricultural Research Center,
Morikami Farm, Delray Beach. Two plants were planted per hill. There were
1/ Assistant Plant Pathologist; Horticulturist, Un versity of Florida,
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Agricultural Research Couter,
2/ Associate Horticulturist, University of Florida, Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences, Morikami Farm, Delray Beach.
four replicates of nine hills per treatment. Individual plots were five feet
apart down row and seven feet between 2-row beds. The plants were sprayed
on a three to four day schedule with the two polybutenes until the middle of
January. From then until April 20 only the Tree Tanglefoot plots were sprayed
and on a four to five day schedule. No other pesticides were used on the
plots. An older planting of peppers was located about 100 yards Northwest
and a later planting was made 50 yards South.
Results and Discussion
Leaves and stems sprayed with Chok-em were covered with a thin film of
the tacky substance. Spraying with Tree Tanglefoot resulted in either small
discrete drops of tacky material or a tacky film of the material on the plant
surfaces. Insects, primarily midges, were trapped on Tree Tanglefoot treated
leaves, and a few were trapped on Chok-em treated surfaces. No aphids were
found on the leaves. On January 2, apterous aphids were found on the grow-
ing points of most of the plants in the plot. There were no differences in
numbers of aphids and numbers of plants colonized between the treatments and
between treatments and untreated control.
Virus symptoms were not noticed in the planting until after the first
harvest. No differences in incidence of virus symptoms between the Tree
Tanglefoot spray and control was noticed (Table 1).
Peppers were sprayed with Tree Tanglefoot in the greenhouse. A camels
hair brush was used to transfer apterous M. persicae from infested pepper
plants to the treated surface. The movement of aphids on the Tree Tangle-
foot-treated surface was followed under a stereo microscope. The aphids
made no effort to avoid droplets of the tacky material, instead they walked
steadily through the material. Aphids were also placed on surfaces coated
with the polybutene materials, Indopol H-1500, and H-10O from Amoco Chemicals
Corp. and Stikem Special from Mapco Products. None of these materials pre-
vented the movement of the aphids. Winged aphids were not available for use
in this test.
Although no damage to plants was visible, the Tree Tanglefoot treatment
delayed fruit set and reduced yields (Table 1). The yields of both sprayed
and unsprayed peppers were reduced by infestation of the pepper weevil
(Anthonomus eugenii Cano). During the third picking (3/21) 43% of the pods
of plants treated with Tree Tanglefoot were infested with the weevil, while
74% of the pods from control plants were infested. The use of the polybutene
may have reduced infestation by the weevil.
There are several possible reasons that the polybutenes were not
effective in preventing feeding and virus transmission by the aphids. One
is that a near-circular unprotected area a half inch to one and a half inch
in radius was produced at the growing point between sprays. This area made
up of young succulent leaves may be selected as landing sites by the aphids
or significant numbers of aphids may land on this site randomly. Another
possibility is that aphids may land feet first on the polybutene deposits
and then make their way to the growing point. The aphids may also land in
uncoated areas of the plant, e.g. lower leaf surface, and migrate from there
to the growing point.
Before further tests exploring the possible use of this physical mode
of action in controlling aphids are made, studies should be conducted to
determine if aphids do land on or very near the growing point. If so, this
may preclude the use of sticky materials unless the material is applied much
more frequently. If not, search for a less phytotoxic, more tacky material
may be warranted.
1. Cohen, S. and S. Marco.
viruses in cucumbers by
1973. Reducing the spread of aphid-transmitted
trapping the aphids on sticky yellow polyethylene
2. Fisher, R. W. 1959. Polybutenes a new control for phytophagous mites.
J. Econ. Ent. 52:1015.
3. Kring, J. B. 1972. Flight behavior of aphids. A. Rev. Ent. 17:425-452.
4. Thompson, H. E. and C. D. Guldner, Jr. 1973. Indopol polybutenes control
the two spotted spider mite on Euonymus in greenhouse. J. Econ. Ent. 66:
5. Zitter, T. A. 1971. Virus diseases of pepper ir south Florida. Proc.
Fla. St. Hort. Soc. 84:177-183.
Table 1. Virus incidence and yied of peppers sprayed with Tree Tanglefoot
at ARC Morikami Farm.-
Plants with Virus
Symptoms (%) Harvest (Ibs.)
3/31 5/1 2/25 3/6 3/21 4/16 Total
Tanglefoot 27 54 0 5.4 7.3 0.7 13.4
Control 26 50 0.3 13.6 10.5 0 24.4
1/ Four replications, nine hills of two plants per replicate.