Ecological management of insect pests using cover crops in field crops and vegetables

Manandhar, Roshan
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2013]
This dissertation researched diversified cropping systems created through habitat management techniques, exploring whether these habitats would alter pests' behavior and/or enhance beneficial insects, and contribute to suppress pest and disease complexes in corn production systems. An exploratory study through small-scale field experiments determined sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea) as the potentially the most suitable species for further study. In the preliminary studies, sunn hemp intercropping reduced incidence of hopperburn and Maize mosaic virus (MMV) symptomatic plants caused by Peregrinus maidis feeding, and increased parasitism of Helicoverpa zea eggs by Trichogramma spp. on the corn silks. The reduced incidence of hopperburn and MMV was attributed to an increase in P. maidis within-field activity, resulting in reduced initial colonization on corn plants. The results showed a suitable intercrop might be useful for management of persistent viruses, which are usually considered unmanageable by habitat management to cropping systems. On the basis of these preliminary studies, experiments were conducted in large-scale field with a higher corn-to sunn hemp intercropping ratio to validate results and possibly contribute new pest management options for large-scale corn production systems. Increase in within-field P. maidis activity with resulting in lower incidence of MMV symptomatic plants in the sunn hemp-intercropped treatments were consistently similar to results that were obtained from small-scale field experiments. This strategy may contribute an important component of integrated pest management for reducing spread of persistently transmitted viruses in large-scale corn production systems. Greater parasitism of H. zea eggs by Trichogramma spp. in sunn hemp-intercropped treatments was consistently similar to that obtained from small-scale field experiments. These results suggested growing strips or patches of suitable cover crop may help in sustaining the populations of beneficial insects at the time of pest outbreaks. Augmentative biological control (releases of Trichogramma pretiosum in corn monoculture) resulted in a greater parasitism of H. zea eggs, and increased ear yield compared to habitat management (sunn hemp-intercropped). This result suggested H. zea management is important component to achieve economic yield and augmentative biological control is a more effective tool than the habitat management in cornfields.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
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