Muscas, Enrico (2016) Influence of sustainable control methods on selected life-history parameters of Planococcus ficus (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae). Doctoral Thesis.
Planococcus ficus is a key pest in the most important grape-growing regions. Its effective chemical control is difficult to achieve owing to its biotic potential and concealed habit. In addition, insecticide applications represent a threat for environment and human health. In this PhD thesis, alternative control techniques to reduce P. ficus populations were evaluated. Specifically, the effects of different cover crop management systems as well as of increasing nitrogen fertilization regimes on the life-history parameters of the mealybug were investigated in a commercial vineyard and in a screenhouse, respectively. Moreover, laboratory and field trials were carried out to determine the influence of delayed mating and mating disruption on biological and demographic parameters of P. ficus. Finally, the potential of the parasitoid Leptomastix dactylopii as a biological control agent against the vine mealybug was evaluated under laboratory conditions. The results obtained show that both ground covers and nitrogen fertilization affect developmental and reproductive parameters of the mealybug. Mating disruption reduced and delayed matings, whereasL. dactylopii successfully developed on P. ficus and showed a performance comparable to that of its preferred host, Planococcus citri (Risso). The results indicate that accurate cultural practices and environmentally friendly control methods may effectively integrate the conventional chemical control against P. ficus.
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