Two watermelon pest management practices, a squash trap crop and a standard recommendation using soil-applied carbofuran, were compared using large-scale field plots to assess trap crop suitability as a replacement for the standard in 2000, 2001, and 2002. In both systems, foliar insecticide applications were used to control squash bugs when populations exceeded threshold levels. During 2001 and 2002, a treatment of untreated watermelon was used. Early season adult insects, from seedling to fruit set, are most critical for watermelon. Significantly fewer early adult bugs were found on watermelon in the trap crop than in the standard recommended practice in 1 of 3 yr. In both years, significantly fewer adult squash bugs were found in watermelon in the trap crop than in untreated fields. The standard recommended practice significantly reduced adult squash bugs in watermelon compared with the untreated in 1 of 2 yr. There was no significant correlation of watermelon yield and squash bug density, indicating that squash bug densities were too low to impact yield. Although squash bugs were reduced significantly by the trap crop, marketable watermelon yields were lower in the squash trap crop than in untreated watermelon, suggesting that pest management treatments may interfere with crop productivity factors other than squash bug colonization. Results suggest that mid-season production squash bug should be managed by monitoring populations and using insecticides as needed rather than using at-plant treatment. Further research is needed to compare treatments during early-season production.
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Vol. 97 • No. 6