Greenhouse Trials of Aphidius colemani (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) Banker Plants for Control of Aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in Greenhouse Spring Floral Crops

R. G. Van Driesche, S. Lyon, J. P. Sanderson, K. C. Bennett, E. J. Stanek III, Ruitao Zhang


Banker plants with Aphidius colemani Viereck were tested in greenhouses in Massachusetts and New York for control of cotton aphid Aphis gossypii Glover, and green peach aphid Myzus persicae (Sulzer) on 2 spring flower crops, pansies (Viola tricolor hortensis) and Marguerite daisies (Argyranthemum hybrid). Banker plants consisted of pots of barley plants infested with the bird cherry-oat aphid Rhopalosiphum padi (L.), inoculated at the start of the crop with adults of A. colemani purchased from a commercial insectary. Initial trials were conducted in University of Massachusetts greenhouses containing flats of the crop plants. Sentinel plants in flats were infested uniformly with aphids, and particular greenhouses were subjected to the presence of banker plants or left as controls. Prior to University trials, a survey was conducted in commercial greenhouses in Massachusetts and New York to determine the frequency and species of aphid infestation in spring flower crops. After University trials, the efficacy of banker plants was tested in commercial greenhouses in both states. In surveys of commercial greenhouses, M. persicae was the most frequently detected species, accounting for 53% of all infestations. In University greenhouse trials, in absence of parasitism, A. gossypii increased fastest on daisy, followed by M. persicae on daisy, M. persicae on pansy, and A. gossypii on pansy. Parasitoid suppression of population increase was strongest for A. gossypii on daisy and poorest for M. persicae on pansy. The presence of 2 aphid species in the same greenhouse did not alter the level of biological control in our trial. In commercial greenhouses, banker plants failed to control M. persicae deployed on infested pansies as sentinel hosts. In the laboratory, a 12-h exposure to dried residues of pyriproxyfen or pymetrozine, insecticides commonly used to control aphids, reduced survival of A. colemani adults, compared to a water control (82% survival), to 71% and 53%, respectively. Adult parasitoid emergence from pesticide-treated aphid mummies was reduced from 68% for the controls to 56% for pyriproxyfen and 62% for pymetrozine.

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