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Biological Control of Arthropod Pests and Weeds
Department of Entomology
The growing emphasis on environmental and food safety issues has intensified interest in the development of biological controls as a means for controlling pests. The effective use of natural enemies in biological control programs is contingent upon understanding their ecology and that of their targets, their interaction with production practices, and the most effective means of using them. The purpose of this project is to improve the use of biological control in controlling pests and weeds.
2010 Project Description
We tested the effects on a parasitoid, Lysiphlebus testaceipes, of milkweed aphids reared on four milkweed species: common milkweed, swamp milkweed, butterfly milkweed, and honeyvine milkweed. Twenty replicates (different parasitoids) were used for each treatment (different milkweed host species). Each parasitoid was supplied 10 aphids on a host plant leaf and the numbers of oviposition attempts (attacks) were recorded. Subsequently, the numbers of aphid mummies and emerging parasitoids were recorded.
Numbers of oviposition attempts did not differ among treatments, but significantly more mummies were formed and more parasitoids emerged from aphids on honeyvine milkweed than from aphids on any of the other milkweed species.
The parasitoid Lysiphlebus testaceipes contributes to the biological control of the soybean aphid and other aphid pests. This parasitoid attacks several aphid species on many host plant species, including the milkweed aphid, which feeds on potentially toxic milkweed species within and near agricultural plantings. If use of the milkweed aphid adversely affects the biology of this parasitoid, this could reduce its effectiveness as a biological control agent.
Our results suggest that the effects of using milkweed aphids on honeyvine milkweed are less severe than effects of using these aphids on other milkweed species. Honeyvine milkweed is the most abundant species of milkweed in and near Kentucky crops.