Methyl salicylate, an herbivore-induced plant volatile, has been shown to attract natural enemies and affect herbivore behavior. In this study, methyl salicylate was examined for its attractiveness to natural enemies of the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura (Hemiptera: Aphididae), and for its direct effects on soybean aphid population growth rates. Methyl salicylate lures were deployed in plots within organic soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] fields. Sticky card traps adjacent to and 1.5 m from the lure measured the relative abundance of natural enemies, and soybean aphid populations were monitored within treated and untreated plots. In addition, exclusion cage studies were conducted to determine methyl salicylate's effect on soybean aphid population growth rates in the absence of natural enemies. Significantly greater numbers of syrphid flies (Diptera: Syrphidae) and green lacewings (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae) were caught on traps adjacent to the methyl salicylate lure, but no differences in abundance were found at traps 1.5 m from the lure. Furthermore, abundance of soybean aphids was significantly lower in methyl salicylate-treated plots. In exclusion cage studies, soybean aphid numbers were significantly reduced on treated soybean plants when all plants were open to natural enemies. When plants were caged, however, soybean aphid numbers and population growth rates did not differ between treated and untreated plants suggesting no effect of methyl salicylate on soybean aphid reproduction and implicating the role of natural enemies in depressing aphid populations. Although aphid populations were reduced locally around methyl salicylate lures, larger scale studies are needed to assess the technology at the whole-field scale.
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Vol. 104 • No. 1