The Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica Newman) is an introduced scarab beetle that was first discovered in New Jersey in 1916 (Fleming, 1976). It is the most widespread and destructive insect pest in the eastern United States, with a direct cost of more than $450 million each year for renovating or replacing damaged turf and ornamental plants (Potter and Held, 2002). Although Japanese beetle grubs damage grass roots from lawns, golf courses, and pastures, adults attack mostly the foliage, flowers, and fruits of more than 300 plant species in 79 families, including grapes (Fleming, 1972).
When feeding on grape leaves, adult Japanese beetles typically produce irregularly shaped holes that result in various degrees of leaf area loss (LAL). Although grapevines are able to tolerate some defoliation, severe LAL will delay ripening, reduce fruit yield and quality (Boucher and Pfeiffer, 1989), and possibly reduce cold hardiness of buds and canes (Mansfield and Howell, 1981). Langford and Cory (1948) classified grape varieties as preferred, attractive, frequently attacked, and unattractive, and proposed that the physical characteristics of host plant leaves might determine this preference. The preferred and attractive varieties were Vitis vinifera, French hybrids, and V. aestivalis with thin, glossy, and tender foliage; the frequently attacked varieties were mostly V. labrusca with leaves coarse and leathery above and tomentose or woolly below; the unattractive varieties were from V. champini × V. labrusca that have young shoots and coarse foliage covered with a tomentum. Their results, however, were drawn from nonreplicated vine damage observations of cultivars that were grown in the 1940s; many currently planted cultivars were not examined.
An examination of Japanese beetle preference for currently cultivated grape cultivars would be useful to growers in developing pest control strategies with reduced chemical inputs with nonpreferred cultivars. The objective of this study was to examine grape cultivar preference of Japanese beetles to 32 commercially available grape cultivars in both cage choice and field experiments.
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