Journal of Economic Entomology (2000) 93, 1688-1694

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John C. Palumbo, Nick C. Toscano, Matthew J. Blua and Harvey A. Yoshida (2000)
Impact of Bemisia whiteflies (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) on alfalfa growth, forage yield, and quality
Journal of Economic Entomology 93 (6), 1688-1694
Abstract: A 3-yr project was initiated in 1993 to examine the effects of insecticides and sustained whitefly, Bemisia argentifolii Bellows and Perring [aka. B. tabaci Gennadius (Strain B)], feeding on alfalfa plant growth and vigor in greenhouse cage studies, and to determine the impact of natural Bemisia whitefly populations on alfalfa forage yields and quality in a large-plot field experiment. Alfalfa plant growth and vigor after exposure to imidacloprid and a mixture of fenpropathrin and acephate insecticides did not differ from untreated plants in the greenhouse. Consequently, foliar and soil applied insecticides were used to manipulate whitefly densities on alfalfa plants to measure whitefly feeding effects on plant growth and forage yield. Heavy whitefly densities on untreated alfalfa plants in the greenhouse resulted in significant reductions in relative growth rates and net assimilation rates as compared with imidacloprid-treated plants that were maintained relatively whitefly-free. Reductions in alfalfa plant growth measured between infested and treated plants were proportional to whitefly densities. Field plot results derived from three crop seasons were relatively consistent with our greenhouse trials. Both experimental approaches clearly showed that alfalfa plants exposed to high densities of whitefly immatures and adults grew at a significantly slower rate and produced less foliage. As a result of reduced growth rates, alfalfa maturity in the naturally infested plots was estimated to be ~7–10 d behind managed plots. Delays in maturity resulted in significant reductions in forage yields of 13–18% during August–September harvests when whitefly populations reached peak abundance. Whitefly feeding stresses also effected hay quality through the reduction of crude protein content and contamination of foliage with honeydew and sooty mold. The status of the Bemisia whiteflies as an economic pest to alfalfa is clearly evident from these studies, but the damage potential of whiteflies in the southwestern United States appears to be restricted to one or two harvest periods during the summer coinciding with peak adult populations and their dispersal from alternate host crops.
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Database assignments for author(s): John C. Palumbo, Matthew J. Blua

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
damage/losses/economics


Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.


Bemisia tabaci biotype MEAM1 Alfalfa/lucerne (Medicago sativa)