Virulence of Entomopathogenic Nematodes to Plum Curculio, Conotrachelus nenuphar: Effects of Strain, Temperature, and Soil Type

David I. Shapiro-Ilan, Tracy C. Leskey, Starker E. Wright

Abstract


The plum curculio, Conotrachelus nenuphar, is a major pest of stone and pome fruit (e.g., apples, pears, peaches, cherries, etc.). Entomopathogenic nematodes (Steinernema spp. and Heterorhabditis spp.) may be used to control the larval stage of C. nenuphar following fruit drop. Indeed, certain entomopathogenic nematodes species have previously been shown to be highly effective in killing C. nenuphar larvae in laboratory and field trials. In field trials conducted in the Southeastern, USA, Steinernema riobrave has thus far been shown to be the most effective species. However, due to lower soil temperatures, other entomopathogenic nematode strains or species may be more appropriate for use against C. nenuphar in the insect’s northern range. Thus, the objective of this study was to conduct a broad screening of entomopathogenic nematodes. Under laboratory conditions, we determined the virulence of 13 nematode strains (comprising nine species) in two different soils (a loam and clay-loam) and three different temperatures (12°C, 18°C, and 25°C). Superior virulence was observed in S. feltiae (SN strain), S. rarum (17 C&E strain), and S. riobrave (355 strain). Promising levels of virulence were also observed in others including H. indica (HOM1 strain), H. bacteriophora (Oswego strain), S. kraussei, and S. carpocapsae (Sal strain). All nematode treatments were affected by temperature with the highest virulence observed at the highest temperature (25°C). In future research, field tests will be used to further narrow down the most suitable nematode species for C. nenuphar control.

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