Mulch as a Potential Management Strategy for Lesser Cornstalk Borer, Elasmopalpus lignosellus (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), in Bush Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Harsimran K. Gill, Robert McSorley, Gaurav Goyal, Susan E. Webb


Lesser cornstalk borer (LCB), Elasmopalpus lignosellus (Zeller), is a serious pest of bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) and many other crops. The effect of mulching as a management method for LCB was examined in 2 field experiments conducted in small plots (1 m2) at 2 different locations (experiments A and B) in Alachua Co., FL. Both experiments were conducted in the summer and repeated in the fall, 2007. The treatments were arranged in a randomized complete block design with 5 replications at both locations. In experiment A, treatments were bare ground, plots with mulch, and plots with weeds (original weed cover); while in experiment B, treatments were bare ground and mulched plots. The mulch was obtained from a crop of sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea L.) planted at another location. Data were collected on bean plant mortality, plant growth parameters (fresh weight, height, and length including roots of surviving plants), and population levels of potential predators. LCB attack was less (P = 0.10) in mulched plots compared with bare ground, considering a number of factors such as location and background of field, season, and amount of precipitation. Greater numbers of surviving plants were found in mulched plots compared with bare ground and weedy plots. In general, fresh weight, height, and total length of bean plants were greater in mulched plots compared with other plots. Treatments did not affect numbers of potential predators of LCB. Evidence suggests that LCB attack is reduced by mulches or weeds around host plants.

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