Effects of Tissue Phosphorus and Nitrogen in Impatiens wallerana on Western Flower Thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) Population Levels and Plant Damage

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Forestry, and Recreation Resources, Kansas State University, Manhattan KS 66506-5506
  • | 2 Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Bradenton, FL 34207

Host-plant nutritional status may affect the incidence and development of western flower thrips (WFT; Frankliniella occidentalis Pergande). Two greenhouse experiments were conducted to determine the responses of WFT population levels on impatiens (Impatiens wallerana Hook.f.) when plants were fertilized with commercially practiced rates of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Impatiens `Dazzler Violet' were grown with nutrient treatment combinations of 2 N rates (8 and 20 mm) by 2 P rates (0.32 and 1.28 mm). Individual plants grown in thrips-proof cages were inoculated with WFT at 2 or 4 weeks after transplant, in separate experiments, representing vegetative or reproductive stages of plant growth, respectively. Plants were destructively sampled weekly for 4 weeks following inoculation. Plant tissue N and P concentrations were significantly different across treatments: 8 and 20 mm N resulted in 4.9% and 6.3% N in tissue, respectively; 0.32 and 1.28 mm P resulted in 0.37% and 0.77% P in tissue, respectively. Nitrogen rates had no effect on WFT population levels. However, 4 weeks after inoculation with adult female WFT during the vegetative growth stage, plants fertilized with 1.28 mm P had more adult WFT than those fertilized with 0.32 mm P. Feeding damage varied depending on whether plants were inoculated in the vegetative stage with adult WFT or during reproductive growth with immature WFT. Plant size and number of flowers were lower in plants inoculated during the vegetative growth stage with adult WFT but were not affected when inoculation with immature WFT occurred during the reproductive stage, as most WFT were found feeding inside the nectariferous spurs of the flowers. Tissue N was lower in WFT-inoculated plants compared to noninoculated plants in both experiments.

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