Trap cropping and biological control can provide a sustainable means of controlling insect pests. Insects in the genus Lygus (Hemiptera: Miridae) are major pests on cotton and horticultural crops throughout the United States, and pesticide resistance within Lygus populations necessitates more sustainable long-term management techniques. Here, we explore behavioral responses of Lygus bugs (L. rubrosignatus Knight) and an introduced parasitoid, Peristenus relictus (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), to a common field edge plant, Erigeron annuus, which has the potential to serve as a trap host. Erigeron annuus is attractive to Lygus in the field, with Lygus preferentially moving to Erigeron patches compared to more abundant cotton plants. To determine the role of odor cues in mediating this attraction, we collected volatiles from E. annuus with and without Lygus damage, and then tested the attractiveness of these volatiles vs. those of cotton to Lygus females and female P. relictus wasps using Y-tube and wind tunnel bioassays. We found that undamaged E. annuus emits high concentrations of a complex volatile blend (60+ compounds), with novel compounds induced and constitutive compounds up-regulated in response to damage. Additionally, both female Lygus bugs and female P. relictus wasps are highly attracted to E. annuus volatiles over those of cotton in almost every combination of damage treatments. Our results suggest that Erigeron annuus would be an effective trap plant to control Lygus in cotton, since it is highly attractive to both the pest and its natural enemy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics