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Open AccessArticle

Evaluation of the Field Efficacy of Heterorhabditis Bacteriophora Poinar (Rhabditida: Heterorhabditidae) and Synthetic Insecticides for the Control of Western Corn Rootworm Larvae

1
Plant Protection Department, Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
2
Crop Science Department, Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
3
Department of Agronomy, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana; 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2020, 11(3), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11030202
Received: 20 February 2020 / Revised: 20 March 2020 / Accepted: 21 March 2020 / Published: 24 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insects, Nematodes and Their Symbiotic Bacteria)
The western corn rootworm (WCR), Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae), is an important insect pest of maize in North America and Central and Eastern Europe. In Central Europe, the larvae emerge in May and its three instars feed intensively on maize roots in June, causing plant lodging that leads to a loss of economic yield. A three-year field experiment (2016–2018) was conducted to compare the effectiveness i) of soil-applied granular insecticide based on the active ingredient tefluthrin, ii) of maize seeds dressed with thiacloprid, and iii) entomopathogenic nematodes Heterorhabditis bacteriophora Poinar (Rhabditida: Heterorhabditidae, product Dianem) against WCR larvae. An additional treatment with alcohol ethoxylate (i.e., soil conditioner) mixed with entomopathogenic nematodes was performed in 2017 and 2018 to check for any increase of entomopathogenic nematodes’ effectiveness. Field tests were carried out in two fields infested naturally with a WCR pest population, one in Bučečovci (Eastern Slovenia) and the other in Šmartno pri Cerkljah (northern Slovenia), exhibiting dissimilar pedo-climatic conditions and soil pest densities. The treatments were performed in five replicates per experiment in each year. The efficacy of the treatments was very similar at both locations, despite the approximately five-fold lower WCR soil pest densities in northern than in eastern Slovenia, as well as being constant over time. The largest number of WCR beetles was observed in the negative control, followed by that of beetles subjected to thiacloprid treatment (insignificant decrease taking into account the entire three-year dataset). Treatments with tefluthrin (44.1 ± 11.7%), H. bacteriophora (46.2 ± 7.4%), and H. bacteriophora + alcohol ethoxylate (49.2 ± 1.8%) significantly decreased the numbers of emerging beetles. Treatments of thiacloprid, H. bacteriophora, and H. bacteriophora + alcohol ethoxylate additionally led to significantly increased maize plant weights. Furthermore, entomopathogenic nematodes were able to persist in maize fields for almost five months at both experimental locations in silty and sandy loam soils. It was concluded that the control of WCR larvae in maize using the entomopathogenic nematode H. bacteriophora is as effective as a tefluthrin treatment, and could thus offer a sustainable Diabrotica v. virgifera biological control management option in Europe. View Full-Text
Keywords: Diabrotca v. virgifera; inundative biological control; entomopathogenic nematodes; Zea mays; tefluthrin; thiacloprid Diabrotca v. virgifera; inundative biological control; entomopathogenic nematodes; Zea mays; tefluthrin; thiacloprid
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MDPI and ACS Style

Modic, Š.; Žigon, P.; Kolmanič, A.; Trdan, S.; Razinger, J. Evaluation of the Field Efficacy of Heterorhabditis Bacteriophora Poinar (Rhabditida: Heterorhabditidae) and Synthetic Insecticides for the Control of Western Corn Rootworm Larvae. Insects 2020, 11, 202.

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