The effect of the chemical insecticide, fenitrothion, and a mycoinsecticide based on Metarhizium anisopliae var. acridum on the activity of non-target epigeal arthropod scavengers was investigated in areas of open savannah in southeast Niger Republic, West Africa. Both insecticides were applied as full cover sprays to unreplicated 800 ha plots to assess their season-long control of Sahelian grasshoppers. Compared with control plots, fenitrothion caused an immediate but temporary reduction in grasshopper numbers, whereas M. anisopliae var. acridum provided delayed but prolonged control. Scavenging rates of pyrethroid-killed grasshoppers placed along transects in unsprayed plots and those treated with fenitrothion and M. anisopliae var. acridum at various intervals after spraying were assessed. In the fenitrothion plot, an immediate reduction in scavenging activity occurred that was still apparent after 40 days at the plot center, although recovery at the plot edges was more rapid. By contrast scavenging rates remained high over equivalent areas in the M. anisopliae var. acridum and two untreated plots. Concurrent to the scavenging study, counts of grasshopper cadavers resulting from the spray treatments were conducted. These counts revealed that the density of grasshopper cadavers remained low throughout the M. anisopliae var. acridum plot and explained < 1% of the reduction in live grasshoppers resulting from treatment, compared with >20% in the fenitrothion plot. This shortfall in grasshopper cadavers resulting from the spray treatment in the M. anisopliae var. acridum plot was unexpected because in a monitoring study, fungus-killed (unlike pyrethroid-killed) grasshoppers were unattractive to scavengers and readily persisted in this plot, and thus should have become apparent. Given we did not observe significant grasshopper dispersal, the scarcity of cadavers generated in the M. anisopliae var. acridum plot, together with unquantified visual observations, suggests that predation of infected but living grasshoppers was high. Our data provide circumstantial evidence that the different effects of chemical and biological grasshopper control on grasshopper natural enemies may influence the efficacy of large-scale treatments.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Insect Science