Evaluation of the Spatial Pattern of Stineerema riobravis in Corn Plots


  • H. E. Cabanillas
  • J. R. Raulston


The vertical and horizontal spatial patterns of a naturally occurring population of the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema riobravis (Rhabditida: Steinernematidae) were investigated in corn field soil by laboratory and field bioassays. This nematode appears to be endemic to the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where it was found parasitizing prepupae and pupae of both corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea, and fall armyworm, Spodopterafrugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Corn earworm prepupa was the bioassay host used to detect S. riobravis from soil in previously harvested corn plots. Steinernema riobravis occurred at soil depths of 5-30 cm. The maximum nematode density was in the upper 20 cm of soil, and the lowest density occurred at soil depth of 25-30 cm. The field and laboratory bioassays performed on the top 20 era of soil resulted in S. riobravis-infected corn earworm of 49 and 34%, respectively, whereas at 25-30 cm soil depths 11 and 4.5% of the H. zea were infected, respectively. The horizontal spatial pattern of this nematode was patchy or aggregated. Our study provides new information on the spatial pattern of S. riobravis in its natural habitat and indicates the need to augment its natural biocontrol efficacy. Key words: biological control, distribution, entomopathogenic nematode, nematode, spatial pattern, Steinernema riobravis.