Modified Atmosphere Treatments as a Potential Disinfestation Technique for Arthropod Pests in Greenhouses

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Incidental transport of arthropods on plant material can be a significant mode of pest entry into greenhouses. We evaluated the use of controlled atmosphere treatments as a potential way to eliminate arthropod pests on plant propagules (i.e., cuttings or small rooted plants). Lethal exposures to CO2 or N2 were determined for common greenhouse pests including fungus gnat larvae, Bradysia sp.; green peach aphid, Myzus persicae (Sulzer); sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia sp.; twospotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae Koch; and western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande). We also studied the effect of pest species, life stage, and presence or absence of plants on efficacy of modified atmosphere treatments. Finally, effects of modified atmospheres on plant quality were evaluated for several bedding plant species including begonia, Begonia semperflorens-cultorum Hort. ‘Cocktail Series’, chrysanthemum, Dendranthema grandiflora Tzvelev., geranium, Pelargonium × hortorum L.H. Bailey, and impatiens, Impatiens wallerana Hook f., and among cultivars of geranium and chrysanthemum. Exposure for 12–18 h to >99% N2 or CO2 caused complete mortality of aphids, mites, thrips, and whiteflies. Fungus gnat larvae were more tolerant of hypoxic conditions. Adult mites and eggs were equally susceptible. For most pests, there was no difference in response to atmospheres modified by CO2 or N2. However, there was variation in response among plant species and cultivars, with effects ranging from delayed flowering to mortality. Despite the possibility of adverse effects on some plants, this work indicates that use of modified atmospheres has potential to eliminate arthropod pests on plant propagules before they are introduced into greenhouses.

Keywords: arthropods; bedding plants; floriculture; greenhouse; hypoxia

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2001

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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