Autodissemination of pathogens: A novel approach to controlling the Japanese beetle

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Since its discovery in the United States in 1916,Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) has become the nemesis of agriculturists and home gardeners. Larvae in the soil feed on grass roots, damaging turf, and adults feed on many species of plants, skeletonizing leaves. Together, they cost around 450 million dollars in control annually. Chemical and cultural methods are used to control the pest, with varying success. Pheromone traps containing feeding lures are effective at attracting the beetles from surrounding areas, but the beetles then have to be killed. We conducted a study to explore the use of the trap as an autodissemination device in which attracted beetles are infected with entomopathogenic nematdes (EPNs)prior to their release. A bioassay evaluated the effectiveness of twenty EPNs to infect adult beetles and cause mortality. All twenty EPNs were able to infect and kill the beetles. Adult beetles were then infected with an EPN from the bioassay and placed in outdoor cages, to assess the vertical transfer of the EPNs from adults to offspring. As beetle larvae were unaffected by the treatment and no EPNs were recovered from the plots, the ability of four different EPNs to develop and reproduce in adult beetles was measured. Among the four tested, only the two Steinernema EPNs were able to develop into adults and reproduce in the beetle. Further studies will concentrate on the two most virulent Steinernema EPNs for developing control strategies for the adult Japanese beetles in the field.



biological control, popilia japonica, heterorhabditis bacteriophora, steinernema, Japanese beetle, entomopathogenic nematode