Use of lablab (Lablab purpureus (L.) Sweet) for bio-control by native arthropods and its effect on yield of pumpkins Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Silverleaf whitefly (SLW, Bemisia tabaci MEAM1) and aphids are sap-sucking insects, which pose a serious threat to Australian cucurbit crops and the horticulture industry. Traditional chemical control for these insect pests is becoming less effective, and there is a need to search for alternative or supplementary methods. This study aimed to manipulate the habitat of pumpkin crops in a tropical setting (Queensland, Australia), by growing pumpkins (var. Japanese pumpkin) alone and between lablab (Lablab purpureus L. Sweet). It was hypothesized that the presence of lablab will increase the populations of natural enemies, and through their control of insect pests such as SLW and aphids, will affect pumpkin yield. The population of arthropods (natural enemies and pests of pumpkin), with a focus on SLW and aphids, were sampled weekly on both lablab and pumpkin crop for a total of 21 weeks. Results showed that lablab hosted more enemies of SLW per plant than pumpkin in either treatment. In addition, adult SLW numbers were significantly higher in the pumpkin-only crop compared with the pumpkin grown between lablab, while pumpkin in the mixed plantings had significantly more ladybirds and lacewing larvae (P < 0.05). While there was no significant difference in the average fruit weight between treatments, the total weight (kg) and number of marketable pumpkins per hectare was greater (P < 0.05) for the pumpkin/lablab treatment than the pumpkin-only treatment. This study shows that growing lablab alongside a pumpkin crop may enhance natural enemies of SLW and could significantly increase the yield.

publication date

  • 2016