Multiple-species natural enemy approach for the biological control of the alfalfa snout beetle, Otiorhynchus ligustici (L.) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), was compared with using single-species of natural enemies in the alfalfa ecosystem by using entomopathogenic nematodes with different dispersal and foraging behaviors. Steinernema carpocapsae NY001 (ambush nematode), Heterorhabditis bacteriophora Oswego (cruiser nematode), and Steinernema feltiae Valko (intermediate nematode) were applied in single-species, two-species combinations, and one three-species combination treatments at 2.5 × 109 infective juveniles per hectare. All nematode species persisted for a full year (357 d). S. carpocapsae NY001 protected the plants from root-feeding damage better than H. bacteriophora Oswego but allowed for higher larval survival than all other nematode treatments. S. feltiae Valko protected the plants better than H. bacteriophora Oswego and controlled alfalfa snout beetle larvae better than S. carpocapsae NY001. H. bacteriophora Oswego allowed for similar root damage compared with control plots but reduced larval populations better than S. carpocapsae NY001. The combination of S. carpocapsae NY001 and H. bacteriophora Oswego provided significantly better protection for the plants than the control (unlike H. bacteriophora Oswego alone) and reduced host larva survival more than S. carpocapsae NY001 alone. The combination S. feltiae Valko and H. bacteriophora Oswego could not be statistically separated from the performance of S. feltiae Valko applied alone.
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Vol. 101 • No. 5