The transmission of phytoplasmas is the result of an intricate interplay involving pathogens, insect vectors and host plants. Knowledge of the vector’s competence during its lifespan allows us to define more sustainable well-timed control strategies targeted towards the most worrisome life stages. We investigated the temporal dynamics of ‘Candidatus
Phytoplasma mali’ load in Cacopsylla melanoneura
in the different developmental stages in Northwest Italy. The phytoplasma load in the vector was evaluated in overwintering adults, nymphs and newly emerged adults after different acquisition access periods. Moreover, we followed the multiplication of the phytoplasma during the aestivation and the overwintering period on conifers. Our results confirmed the ability of remigrants to retain the phytoplasma until the end of winter. We also highlighted the high acquisition efficiency and vector competence, based on phytoplasma load, of nymphs and newly emerged adults. Therefore, particular attention should be paid to the management of overwintered C. melanoneura
as soon as they return to the orchards, but also to newly emerged adults, particularly in orchards with a high infection rate and when the migration to conifers is delayed.
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