Striped cucumber beetle, Acalymma vittatum F., is the primary insect pest of cucurbit crops in the northeastern United States. Adult beetles colonize squash crops from field borders, causing feeding damage at the seedling stage and transmitting bacterial wilt Erwinia tracheiphila Hauben et al. 1999. Conventional control methods rely on insecticide applications to the entire field, but surrounding main crops with a more attractive perimeter could reduce reliance on insecticides. A. vittatum shows a marked preference for Blue Hubbard squash (Cucurbita maxima Duchesne) over butternut squash (C. moschata Poir). Given this preference, Blue Hubbard squash has the potential to be an effective perimeter trap crop. We evaluated this system in commercial butternut fields in 2003 and 2004, comparing fields using perimeter trap cropping with Blue Hubbard to conventionally managed fields. In 2003, we used a foliar insecticide to control beetles in the trap crop borders, and in 2004, we compared systemic and foliar insecticide treatments for the trap crop borders. We found that using a trap crop system reduced or eliminated the need to spray the main crop area, reducing insecticide use by up to 94% compared with conventional control methods, with no increase in herbivory or beetle numbers. We surveyed the growers who participated in these experiments and found a high level of satisfaction with the effectiveness and simplicity of the system. These results suggest that this method of pest control is both effective and simple enough in its implementation to have high potential for adoption among growers.
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