Predicting boll weevil eradication induced pest outbreaks in Texas cotton
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The boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis grandis Boheman) is currently under eradication in the U.S. The eradication program is implemented by means of area-wide applications of malathion ULV. Frequent applications of this insecticide result in high mortality of many beneficial insects, and a greater risk of secondary pest outbreaks. Notable among the latter are the outbreaks of beet armyworm (Spodoptera exigua H?bner) and cotton aphid (Aphis gossypii Glover) in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in 1995. The present study (i) compared densities of beneficial and pest insect and spider populations between cotton fields in eradication and non-eradication areas; (ii) evaluated the use of beneficial cotton arthropod population densities as indicators of pest damage risks from cotton aphid, beet armyworm, bollworm (Helicoverpa zea Boddie), and other worms (Estigmene acrea Drury, Pseudoplusia includens Walker, and Trichoplusia ni H?bner); and (iii) evaluated the effects of malathion ULV on the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren) a key arthropod predator in cotton agroecosystems. Studies were conducted in central Texas, in the vicinities of College Station and Dallas, during 2002 and 2003. Results showed that a majority of cotton predators were negatively impacted by malathion ULV applications. However, convergent lady beetle (Hippodamia convergens Gu?rin-M?neville) densities were greater in active eradication fields than inactive fields. Stepwise regression analyses identified densities of lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea Stephens) larvae and lady beetle larvae (H. convergens, Coleomegilla maculata De Geer, Harmonia axyridis Pallas, and Coccinella septempunctata L.) as predictors of cotton aphid density, and density of total spiders as predictors of bollworm density. Predictors of beet armyworm or other worm densities could not be determined. This study demonstrated malathion ULV was highly toxic to fire ants, and could repel ants from treated surfaces. Malathion ULV reduced the number of foraging fire ants in the cotton canopy for three weeks and reduced fire ant predation of beet armyworm eggs. Predictors of secondary pest densities have been suggested which, if utilized, may help to prevent the occurrence of secondary pest outbreaks under boll weevil eradication. Validation of these predictors should be preformed before implementing them into an eradication program.
Butler, James Joseph (2004). Predicting boll weevil eradication induced pest outbreaks in Texas cotton. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from