Pathogenicity of Two Species of Entomopathogenic Nematodes Against the Greenhouse Whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae), in Laboratory and Greenhouse Experiments
The greenhouse whitefly Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) is a polyphagous pest in greenhouse crops. The efficacy of two entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN), Steinernema feltiae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, as biological control agents against T. vaporariorum was evaluated using two model crops typical of vegetable greenhouse productions: cucumber and pepper. Laboratory tests evaluated adults and second nymphal instars for pest susceptibility to different EPN species at different concentrations of infective juveniles (IJ; 0, 25, 50, 100, 150, 200, and 250 IJ per cm2); subsequent greenhouse trials against second nymphal instars on cucumber and pepper plants evaluated more natural conditions. Concentrations were applied in combination with Triton X-100 (0.1% v/v), an adjuvant for increasing nematode activity. In laboratory studies, both life stages were susceptible to infection by the two nematode species, but S. feltiae recorded a lower LC50 than H. bacteriophora for both insect stages. Similarly, in greenhouse experiments, S. feltiae required lower concentrations of IJ than H. bacteriophora to reach the same mortality in nymphs. In greenhouse trials, a significant difference was observed in the triple interaction among nematode species × concentration × plant. Furthermore, the highest mortality rate of the second nymphal instars of the T. vaporariorum was obtained from the application of S. feltiae concentrated to 250 IJ/cm2 on cucumber (49 ± 1.23%). The general mortality caused by nematodes was significantly higher in cucumber than in pepper. These promising results support further investigation for the optimization of the best EPN species/concentration in combination with insecticides or adjuvants to reach a profitable control of this greenhouse pest.
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