Retention or loss of transmissibility after molting was tested for adult and nymphal squash bug, Anasa tristis (De Geer), a natural vector of the plant pathogen Serratia marcescens Bizio, the causal agent of cucurbit yellow vine disease. Squash bug adults and nymphs fed from bacteria-infiltrated squash cubes were caged on squash test plants and transferred weekly to new plants for eight consecutive weeks. Twelve percent of the bugs that acquired as adults transmitted the bacterium to at least one of the test plants; 75% of these transmitters inoculated more than one plant. Transmission to plants occurred as late as 3 to 8 weeks postacquisition. Ten percent of squash bugs that fed on S. marcescens as fifth instars inoculated plants after molting to the adult stage; 77% of these transmitters inoculated more than one plant. Two insects that fed on S. marcescens as third instars inoculated squash plants. When examined by scanning electron microscopy, the foregut cibaria of transmitting insects were free of bacteria-like structures. The ability of A. tristis to transmit S. marcescens after molting to the adult stage suggests that the hemocoel acts as the site of retention of transmissible bacteria.
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Vol. 98 • No. 6