Corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea Boddie (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), and fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda J.E. Smith, are occasional pests in sorghum, Sorghum bicolor L. Moench (Poales: Poaceae), and can be economically damaging when conditions are favorable. Despite the frequent occurrence of mixed-species infestations, the quantitative data necessary for developing yield loss relationships for S. frugiperda are not available. Although these species share similar biological characteristics, it is unknown whether their damage potentials in developing grain sorghum panicles are the same. Using no-choice feeding assays in the laboratory, this study examined larval growth and feeding duration for H. zea and S. frugiperda in the absence of competition. Each species responded positively when exposed to sorghum seed in the soft-dough stage, supporting evidence for the interactions between host-quality and larval growth and development. The results of this study also confirmed the suitability of using laboratory-reared H. zea to develop sorghum yield loss estimates in the field, and provided insights into the biological responses of S. frugiperda feeding on developing sorghum seed.
There is increasing evidence that top-down controls have strong non-consumptive effects on herbivore populations. However, little is known about how these non-consumptive effects relate to bottom-up influences. Using a series of field trials, we tested how changes in top-down and bottom-up controls at the within-plant scale interact to increase herbivore suppression. In the first experiment, we manipulated access of natural populations of predators (primarily lady beetles) to controlled numbers of A. glycines on upper (i.e. vigorous-growing) versus lower (i.e. slow-growing) soybean nodes and under contrasting plant ages. In a second experiment, we measured aphid dispersion in response to predation. Bottom-up and top-down controls had additive effects on A. glycines population growth. Plant age and within-plant quality had significant bottom-up effects on aphid size and population growth. However, top-down control was the dominant force suppressing aphid population growth, and completely counteracted bottom-up effects at the plant and within-plant scales. The intensity of predation was higher on upper than lower soybean nodes, and resulted in a non-consumptive reduction in aphid population growth because most of the surviving aphids were located on lower plant nodes, where rates of increase were reduced. No effects of predation on aphid dispersal among plants were detected, suggesting an absence of predator avoidance behavior by A. glycines. Our results revealed significant non-consumptive predator impacts on aphids due to the asymmetric intensity of predation at the within-plant scale, suggesting that low numbers of predators are highly effective at suppressing aphid populations.
The soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura (Hemiptera: Aphididae), is currently the most important insect threat to soybean, Clycine max (L.) Merr., production in the North Central United States. Field cage studies are a key tool in investigating the potential of natural enemies and host plant resistance to control this pest. However, a major constraint in the use of cage studies is the limited number of treatments and replicates that can be used as aphid densities frequently become so large as to limit the number of experimental units that can be quantified. One way to overcome this limitation is to develop methods that estimate whole-plant aphid densities based on a reduced sampling plan. Here, we extend an existing method, node-sampling, used for estimating aphid populations in open field conditions and apply it to caged populations. We show that parameters calculated under open field conditions are inappropriate to estimate caged populations. In contrast, using four independent data sets of caged populations and a cross-validation technique, we demonstrate that a three-node sampling unit and a weighted formula provide accurate and robust estimates of whole-plant aphid density. This method reduced the number of aphids counted per plant by and average of 60%, with greater reductions at higher aphid densities. We further demonstrate that nearly identical statistical results were obtained when whole-plant or node-sampling estimates were used in the analysis of two case studies. The reduced sample unit method developed here saves time without sacrificing efficiency so that more plants, replications, or studies can be conducted that will lead to improved soybean aphid management.
The soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura (Hemiptera: Aphididae), is an economically important pest of soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merrill, in the United States. Phenological information of A. glycines is limited; specifically, little is known about factors guiding migrating aphids and potential impacts of long distance flights on local population dynamics. Increasing our understanding of A. glycines population dynamics may improve predictions of A. glycines outbreaks and improve management efforts. In 2005 a suction trap network was established in seven Midwest states to monitor the occurrence of alates. By 2006, this network expanded to 10 states and consisted of 42 traps. The goal of the STN was to monitor movement of A. glycines from their overwintering host Rhamnus spp. to soybean in spring, movement among soybean fields during summer, and emigration from soybean to Rhamnus in fall. The objective of this study was to infer movement patterns of A. glycines on a regional scale based on trap captures, and determine the suitability of certain statistical methods for future analyses. Overall, alates were not commonly collected in suction traps until June. The most alates were collected during a 3-wk period in the summer (late July to mid-August), followed by the fall, with a peak capture period during the last 2 wk of September. Alate captures were positively correlated with latitude, a pattern consistent with the distribution of Rhamnus in the United States, suggesting that more southern regions are infested by immigrants from the north.
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