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(BASIC) Deke to Antongiovanni June Synopsis
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Kern County BASIC Pilot Program

June, 2001

Trip Report to Mr. Antongiovanni June 6 & 7, 2001

This is a record of weekly monitoring during June at a 38 acre field of Riata (Acala) Round–Up Ready cotton located in East Bakersfield. Kevin Antongiovanni manages this and other fields in the area. During June we were counting populations of insects in each quadrant of the field and in the surrounding vegetation by 100 sweeps with the sweep net and 100 standard sucks by the D–Vac vacuum insect net sampling method and visual inspection. Our reports built on those of May in which the key beneficial insects were introduced. We did complete counts of the vacuum samples to determine all of the species present in the natural enemy complex associated with each pest.

Report to Mr. Antongiovanni for June 6 & 7

Field Observations:

Arrived late afternoon and stayed until sun went down at 20:30. Lacewings adults are flying from the Safflower field. More corn mix was planted along the south side of the field and patched on the East Side. Cultivation and fertilization following irrigation is complete. Calasoma adult Carabid beetle seen. The larvae of this predatory beetle species seen last week were not seen this trip.

The limited samples with the sweep net reveal many, many lacewing adults in the Safflower. This field has received another irrigation and continues to blossom. Very few green lacewing eggs and no larvae have been seen so far. This field is starting to cotton blossom, the pollen and cotton nectaries should trigger their reproduction. Nectaries alone do not make them lay eggs. These are mostly last year’s adults that are still in winter reproductive diapause. There are no aphids or whitefly to make them lay eggs. The ladybug populations are not laying eggs much either. Only one egg mass and very few larvae are in the samples. One Syrphid fly was taken in the samples. Most of the ladybugs that we see are Coccinella spp. and not Hippodamia convergens (the only one that migrates to the mountains).

D–Vac samples were taken near the SE corner the evening of the 7th and the NW corner on the morning of June 8. The Trichogramma left from June 7 releases were colonized.

Releases:

200,000 Trichogrammatoidea bactrae (swarming adults in cups with honey paper) were released by Francisco walking the field (middle of the south half of the field). The outside edges were colonized from the truck around the edge of all sides of the field.

 

Report to Mr. Antongiovanni for June 13–15

Field Observations:
D–Vac Samples:

We have sampled Hyposoter exigua., a small wasp parasite, that attacks half inch long looper worms. Sixty percent have been reported in the literature. They are Nature’s second line of defense against cotton worms. However, the several species of beneficial tachinid fly, especially Voria ruralis, that yields three to five flies from each large looper worm that it attacks have not been seen so far. These important beneficial flies will be too few and too late for lack of an unsprayed refuge and from pesticide interference.

Habitat:

The habitat enhancement blooming plants are necessary for this largest group of beneficial insects that control cotton pests. The habitat refuge planting that we are seeding may be too late to help us at this moment, however, we will be monitoring for the presence of these important biological control organisms to discover when they will discover these looper pests. Monoculture without unsprayed year–round flowering plant sources limits the use of EBPM and IPM pest control strategies.

The reduction of the need for conventional chemical control (CCC) is dependent upon having the natural occurring beneficial organisms close by to where the cotton is being grown. The natural suppression of pests occurs where and when most of the known many sets of beneficial insects are provided for by planting a diversity of habitat enhancement plantings, corn, Sudan, Sorghum, flowering safflower and sunflowers, that act as a trap and a refuge for both the pest or an alternate host species. Diversifying plantscape is to optimize the diversity of insect and mite species growing in the plantscape. The cutting process of alfalfa hay is also somewhat involved. It is a lot like recovery from drug addiction. It takes a change of life style to go through the pain of withdrawing from CCC.

Releases:

We made our second release of "tricho" egg parasites. We probably need many more than the 200,000 per week that is scheduled in our budget.

 

Report to Mr. Antongiovanni, for Thursday, June 21 and 22

Field Observations:

The field was thought to be under the next heaviest looper moth egg laying pressure. Last week, the neighboring cotton field north of our demonstration plot was being sprayed with a ground rig. We assumed that it would be Bt that they were applying. We were concerned about the moth flight and the eggs and small larvae seen last week. There was less concern in this cotton because of the higher and more diverse populations of beneficial predators sampled here in both the cotton, the safflower to the east, the large numbers of Polistes wasps and mud dobbers that gather worms to feed their young and the flocks black birds seen working the cotton for worms. We have seen the Carabid beetle Calosoma affinae in two locations. It is a large black beetle that climbs plants at night feeding on large worms and pupae in the duff/soil interface with above ground plant surfaces.

Surrounding plantscape supports biological control:

This larger more diverse set of natural enemies suggests more effective biological control is taking place. Only Hyposoter exiguae has not been seen nor have we seen several tachinid flies, but the safflower with some weedy areas of Johnson grass and other weeds and the melons are all good habitat for most of the natural enemies known to be in alfalfa hay. Watermelons to the south and alfalfa hay south of the melons are evidence that this plantscape has more biocomplexity and less pesticide interference than either the DeStefani or Banducci plantscape.

Our foresight was more accurate than expected. The leaf feeding damage was much less than was observed at DeStefani. We were able to meet Antongiovanni and discuss our findings that we had taken to date. I think that the level of biological control has proven to be sufficient by the speed with which the large numbers of big–eyed bugs control of lygus and leaf feeding cabbage loopers, Trichoplusia ni. The number of large worms (more than half inch long) that escape the predators is far fewer than at DeStefani’s. The lygus counts have never been higher than a 3 count (all adults) migrating from the safflower as it matures. This cotton was the first to blossom and green lacewings are laying eggs and small lacewing larvae are in the D–Vac vacuum insect net samples. Lacewing adults are seen throughout the field. The only looper worms found today were in the sweep net samples at the NW corner where cotton is planted interfaced to the north and west of our block. All other sides have sources of natural enemies moving into Antongiovanni's cotton block.

Sudan habitat slow to come up:

Mr. Antoniogvanni reported that he had planted the Sudan and the next irrigation will make it grow. However, the Treflan/ Round–up herbicide combination may prevent it. The corn and flowering plant insect refuges have not germinated in this block thus far. The same insectary mix of seeds and Sudan are already 6 to 8 inches tall at Roger Sanders, planted and irrigated two weeks ago. The Sudan barrier acts as a wall to inhibit the flow of dust and other possible pesticide residues that interfere with biological control of cotton pests where natural enemies are being fostered. There is another benefit of the Sudan barrier as far as protecting against an invasion of mites that are encouraged by the infrared radiation effects from a hot dusty dirt road. The outside rows of many farms are being lined with growing plants to inhibit dust (along with sprinkling the roads with water) particularly in strawberry and both table and wine grapes. Some vegetable and tree fruit orchards are also using plants to cool down the outside rows of their fields as a control for the spider mites that seem to flourish at this infrared "hot" interface. It is also a small cost for a large benefit to help increase the biodiversity of monoculture agriculture and protect against mite invasions. Green lacewings spend a lot of the daylight hours in these plants and fly throughout the field laying eggs during the night hours.

The progress of biological control advances with each growth cycle of the plants. The weather has been favorable and the good bugs are winning as of now and the prospects for continued control look good.

 

Francisco Cornejo’s Report to Mr. Antongiovanni June 28 & 29

Field observations:

This field was sampled just before sunset on Thursday. Several birds were flying from the interior of the field. Hyposoter pupae were found at several locations. In general the crop is very clean at this point. The only worry is the adjacent safflower field is almost ready to be harvested and may cause a large migration of Lygus when it is harvested.

Plant growth:

Petiole samples were collected Friday morning. Plant growth in this field is very homogeneous. Plants in some areas are at different growth stages but these differences may be due to different soil zones. The petiole sample analysis will reflect the average on the whole field. High nitrogen input increases the risk of mite and aphids outbreaks as these pests thrive on tender plant growth induced by fertilizer use.

Sweep net sample:

Sweep net and D–Vac samples were taken from the four corners of the field.

6 Lacewings

6 Lady beetles

3 Nabis

1 Orius

3 spiders

5 Geocoris

2 Hypooster

D–Vac analysis:

High numbers of thrips, hooded beetles (several species of Anthicids), and minute pirate bug (Orius) were found. The high thrips population is the food source maintaining the minute pirate bug population. The hooded beetles are feeding on looper eggs and larvae. More immature stages of beneficials compared to pests were found indicating these pests will be kept under biological control.

Habitat:

Few of the corn seeds that we planted few weeks ago are beginning to sprout. The disappointing growth of the corn may be due to residual herbicide use.

Releases:

100,000 Trichogramma were released through the center of the field. As a proactive measure, lacewing releases should be made next week to reduce the risk of a mite and/or aphid out break. Also these releases would increase the general predation on stinkbug and Lygus eggs and nymphs. The farm manager agrees and would like his people to be involved with the releases so that they learn more about the program..

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