The objective of this study was to determine the susceptibility of the strawberry crown moth, Synanthedon bibionipennis (Boisduval) (Lepidoptera: Sesiidae) larvae to two species of entomopathogenic nematodes. The entomopathogenic nematodes Steinernema carpocapsae (Weiser) strain Agriotos and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (Steiner) strain Oswego were evaluated in laboratory soil bioassays and the field. Both nematode species were highly infective in the laboratory bioassays. Last instars were extremely susceptible to nematode infection in the laboratory, even in the protected environment inside the strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) crown. Infectivity in the laboratory was 96 and 94% for S. carpocapsae and H. bacteriophora, respectively. Field applications in late fall (October) were less effective with S. carpocapsae and H. bacteriophora, resulting in 51 and 33% infection, respectively. Larval mortality in the field from both nematode treatments was significantly greater than the control, but treatments were substantially less efficacious than in the laboratory. Soil temperature after nematode applications in the field (11°C mean daily temperature) was below minimum establishment temperatures for both nematode species for a majority of the post-application period. It is clear from laboratory data that strawberry crown moth larvae are extremely susceptible to nematode infection. Improved control in the field is likely if nematode applications are made in late summer to early fall when larvae are present in the soil and soil temperatures are more favorable for nematode infection.
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Vol. 101 • No. 2