Incidence of Endemic Entomopathogenic Nematodes Following Application of Steinernema riobrave for Control of Diaprepes abbreviatus


  • L. W. Duncan
  • J. H. Graham
  • D. C. Dunn
  • J. Zellers
  • C. W. McCoy
  • K. Nguyen


abbott's formula, biological control, competition, entomopathogenic nematodes, heterorhabditis, natural control, seasonality, steinernema


Control of Diaprepes abbreviatus by endemic and exotic entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) was monitored during 2000-2001 in two citrus orchards in central Florida (Bartow and Poinciana). Caged sentinel insect larvae were buried beneath citrus trees for 7 days at 1 to 2-month intervals from April to October each year. At Bartow, the survey occurred in experimental plots that were (i) not treated with commercial EPN, (ii) treated twice annually since 1998 with commercially formulated Steinernema riobrave, or (iii) treated twice annually with S. riobrave and liquid fertilization (15 times/year) occurred in place of dry fertilizer (3 times/year) used in the other treatments. Four endemic EPN species, in addition to S. riobrave, were recovered from the sandy soil at Bartow: S. diaprepesi, Heterorhabditis zealandica, H. indica, and H. bacteriophora. Mean insect mortality in control plots was 39.4% (range = 13% to 74%), with seasonal maxima in May to July each year. Endemic EPN were recovered from 55% (range = 22% to 81%) of the cadavers each month. Total numbers of endemic EPN recovered in all plots during 2 years were directly related to the numbers of adult weevils (D. abbreviatus and Pachnaeus litus) captured in modified Tedder's traps and inversely related to recovery of S. riobrave. Insect mortality was higher and cadavers containing endemic EPN were more numerous in untreated control plots than in S. riobrave-treated plots, except during months in which S. riobrave was applied. In treated plots, endemic EPN were recovered from cadavers at twice the rate of S. riobrave. Suppression of endemic EPN in plots treated with S. riobrave, combined with inferior persistence by the introduced species, may have attenuated the net efficacy of S. riobrave against D. abbreviatus. In contrast, H. indica was the only endemic nematode recovered from the sandy clay loam soil at Poinciana, where the average mortality of D. abbreviatus was 12% (range 3% to 20%) and incidence of H. indica did not exceed 8%. Results of these surveys suggest that the regional patterns in the abundance and damage to citrus caused by D. abbreviatus in Florida are regulated by endemic EPN and other soilborne enemies of the weevil.