For >20 yr, Bemisia tabaci Gennadius persists as a begomovirus vector and is a serious problem in tomato production in many parts of the world. In tropical countries, the use of netting to protect horticultural crops has proven to be an effective and sustainable tool against Lepidoptera but not against small insects. This study evaluated the repellent effect of AgroNet 0.9T, a 0.9-mm pore diameter and 40-mesh size netting treated with alphacypermethrin insecticide against B. tabaci. This pyrethroid insecticide is known to have toxic and repellent effects against mosquitoes and has been used for treatment of mosquito nets. Two nontreated netting materials were used as control: AgroNet 0.9NT with 0.9-mm pore diameter and 40-mesh size and AgroNet 0.4NT with 0.4-mm pore diameter and 80-mesh size. The behavior of B. tabaci and its parasitoid Encarsia formosa Gahan as they progressed through the treated netting was studied in the laboratory in choice and no-choice tests. The development of wild B. tabaci population on tomato plants protected by the same nets was followed in two field trials implemented in Njoro, Kenya. Results obtained with the no-choice tests showed a significant reduction of movement on the treated net with 40-mesh (19%) compared with nontreated netting (35 and 46% with 80- and 40-mesh, respectively). The mortality of B. tabaci was significantly higher (two-fold) in the test tube containing only the treated netting compared with the nontreated one. The repellent effect of the treated netting was also demonstrated against E. formosa, but it did not have this toxic effect. Unlike for B. tabaci, the treated and nontreated nets appeared to have a similar repellent effect on E. formosa in the choice test, which suggests a learning behavior of the parasitoid. In both field tests, B. tabaci population was significantly lower on tomato protected by the treated net compared with the same nontreated net. However there was no significant difference in B. tabaci population between the treated 0.9-pore diameter and the nontreated 0.4-pore diameter. We discussed these findings and their implications for the use of repellent netting in integrated pest management in horticulture and more specifically in vegetable production.
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Vol. 107 • No. 2