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Evaluation of semiochemical based push-pull strategy for population suppression of ambrosia beetle vectors of laurel wilt disease in avocado.

  • Author(s): Rivera, Monique J
  • Martini, Xavier
  • Conover, Derrick
  • Mafra-Neto, Agenor
  • Carrillo, Daniel
  • Stelinski, Lukasz L
  • et al.
Abstract

Ambrosia beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae and Platypodinae) bore into tree xylem to complete their life cycle, feeding on symbiotic fungi. Ambrosia beetles are a threat to avocado where they have been found to vector a symbiotic fungus, Raffaelea lauricola, the causal agent of the laurel wilt disease. We assessed the repellency of methyl salicylate and verbenone to two putative laurel wilt vectors in avocado, Xyleborus volvulus (Fabricius) and Xyleborus bispinatus (Eichhoff), under laboratory conditions. Then, we tested the same two chemicals released from SPLAT flowable matrix with and without low-dose ethanol dispensers for manipulation of ambrosia beetle populations occurring in commercial avocado. The potential active space of repellents was assessed by quantifying beetle catch on traps placed 'close' (~5-10 cm) and 'far' (~1-1.5 m) away from repellent dispensers. Ambrosia beetles collected on traps associated with all in-field treatments were identified to species to assess beetle diversity and community variation. Xyleborus volvulus was not repelled by methyl salicylate (MeSA) or verbenone in laboratory assays, while X. bispinatus was repelled by MeSA but not verbenone. Ambrosia beetle trap catches were reduced in the field more when plots were treated with verbenone dispensers (SPLAT) co-deployed with low-dose ethanol dispensers than when treated with verbenone alone. Beetle diversity was highest on traps deployed with low-dose ethanol lures. The repellent treatments and ethanol lures significantly altered the species composition of beetles captured in experiment plots. Our results indicate that verbenone co-deployed with ethanol lures holds potential for manipulating ambrosia beetle vectors via push-pull management in avocado. This tactic could discourage immigration and/or population establishment of ambrosia beetles in commercial avocado and function as an additional tool for management programs of laurel wilt.

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