Conditioning Treatments Affect Insect and Mite Populations on Bedding Plants in the Greenhouse

in HortScience

During greenhouse production in Spring 1995, conditioning treatments were applied to columbine (Aquilegia×hybrida Sims `McKana Giants'), New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri Bull. `Antares'), marigold (Tagetes erecta L. `Little Devil Mix') and ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum Mill. `Blue Puffs') plants. Treatments included: mechanical conditioning (brushing 40 strokes twice daily); moisture stress conditioning (MSC) (wilting for ≈2 hours per day); undisturbed ebb-and-flow irrigation; overhead irrigation; high (500 mg·L-1 N) or low (50 mg·L-1 N) 3×/week N fertilizer regimes; daminozide (5000 mg·L-1); or paclobutrazol (30, 45, or 180 mg·L-1). One week after initiation of treatments, individual plants in separate greenhouses were inoculated with two adult green peach aphids (Myzus persicae Sulzer) or five two-spotted spider mites (Tetranychus urticae Koch). A natural infestation of western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis Pergande) in the mite-inoculated greenhouse provided an additional insect treatment. Brushing was the only treatment that consistently reduced thrips and mite populations. Aphid populations were lower on low-N than on high-N plants, but thrips and mite populations were not consistently affected by plant fertilization. Moisture stress conditioning tended to increase aphid populations on New Guinea impatiens and marigold, but had little effect on spider mite or thrips populations. Ebb-and-flow irrigation reduced the mite population on ageratum relative to that on overhead irrigated (control) plants. Plant growth regulators did not consistently affect pest populations. Chemical names used: butane-dioic acid mono(2,2-dimethylhydrazide) (daminozide); β-[(4-chlorophenyl)methyl]-α-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-1H-1,2,4-triazole-1-1-ethanol (paclobutrazol).

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