Evaluation of food sprays and relay strip crops for enhancing biological control of bollworms and cotton aphids in cotton Academic Article uri icon


  • Studies were conducted at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station research farms located at Munday (1996 test) and Chillicothe (1997 test) to evaluate relay strip crops in combination with a food spray to enhance biological control of bollworms. Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), and cotton aphids. Aphis gossypii Glover, in cotton. The relay crops included fall plantings of hairy vetch. Vicia villosa Roth, and canola. Brassica napus L., and a spring planting of grain sorghum. Sorghum bicolor L. Cotton. Gossypium hirsutum L., was planted between the relay crops or was isolated from the relay crops. Treatments within the two cotton systems included an untreated check plot, a plot sprayed with sugar+yeast (food spray) during summer to attract and hold predator insects, a plot sprayed with biological ('soft') insecticides for bollworm and cotton aphid control (Bacillus thuringiensis and pymetrozine, respectively), and a plot sprayed with harsh insecticides for bollworm and cotton aphid control (zeta cypermetnrin and dicrotophos or profonofos, respectively). A split-plot experimental design, with three replications, was used where whole plots included relay and isolated cotton systems and subplots were the four food/chemical treatments. Predator numbers were monitored with a vacuum sampler once a week in relay crops and cotton. Bollworms and cotton aphids were monitored visually once a week in cotton during July and August. Total predator numbers were higher in cotton adjacent to relay crops in 1996, but not in 1997. The food spray did not enhance attraction and retention of predators either year. Bollworm larval numbers were significantly higher in relay cotton, food spray plots in 1996. Bollworm larval numbers were similar in relay and isolated cotton, and larval numbers were significantly reduced only in the plot where zeta cypermethrin (harsh insecticide plot) was used. In 1996, cotton aphid numbers in the relay cotton system were significantly higher in the untreated check plots in relation to numbers in the food spray, soft insecticide, and harsh insecticide plots, which were statistically similar. In the isolated cotton system, aphid numbers were highest in untreated plots, intermediate in food spray and soft insecticide plots, and lowest in the harsh insecticide plots. Aphid numbers increased more rapidly in the harsh insecticide plots that had been treated previously for bollworm control. The food spray and pymetrozine treatments reduced cotton aphids more effectively in the relay cropping system than in the isolated cotton system. Bollworms and cotton aphids did not reach pest status in 1997. The combination of a relay cropping system with a food spray did not enhance predator numbers and did not aid in retention of predators in cotton during August. Sucrose in the food spray attracted high numbers of bollworms in 1996.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Slosser, J. E., Parajulee, M. N., & Bordovsky, D. G.

citation count

  • 15

complete list of authors

  • Slosser, JE||Parajulee, MN||Bordovsky, DG

publication date

  • January 2000