Natural Enemies of Squash Bugs
Habitat Modification to Enhance Natural Enemies of Squash Bugs
The squash bug is a common pest of squash and other cucurbits. Pesticides can control squash bug populations although many growers in the Southeast seek alternative methods of management. Adding floral resources (wildflower plantings) decreased pest and increased beneficial insects in half of the yearX location combinations studied.The use of floral resources to attract natural enemies and beneficial insects merits further investigation.
In 2014, squash production in the Southeast accounted for 30.7% of the United States total acreage harvested (U. S. Department of Agriculture 2015). Georgia (at 8.3%) was the fifth largest producer in the United States, and second largest in the Southeast. One major pest concern for squash producers is Anasa tristis(DeGeer), the squash bug. Anasa tristis is an indigenous pest of squash and other members of the family Cucurbitaceae, including pumpkin, watermelon, and zucchini. Interest in management alternatives is high. One potential option is to increase natural control by adding floral resources to growing sites.
Wild flower mixes were interplanted with squash and evaluated for natural enemy and squash bug occurrence in multiple locations in a two-year study.
Data were collected on squash bug abundance and fruit yield (kg), and abundance of potential natural enemies of A. tristis. Plots with added floral resources had fewer squash bug adults than plots without added floral resources in four of eight possible year × site × planting date combinations. Furthermore, the site in 2014 which had a reduction in squash bug adult abundance also had an increase in the abundance of potential enemies, including spiders, ground beetles, and predaceous Hemiptera. There were additional instances when potential natural enemy abundance was greater in resource-enhanced plots, but they were not associated with sites that had a reduction in yield loss or squash bug abundance. The use of floral resources to attract natural enemies and beneficial insects merits further investigation.
Sustainability, Conservation, and the Environment