Hilgardia
Hilgardia
Hilgardia
University of California
Hilgardia

Studies of microörganisms pathogenic to the sod webworm

Author

Irvin M. Hall

Author Affiliations

Irvin M. Hall was Junior Entomologist in the Experiment Station, Riverside.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 22(15):535-565. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v22n15p535. February 1954.

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Abstract

Four microörganisms—a spore-forming bacterium, two strains of a fungus, and a microsporidian—were tested as biological agents for the control of the sod webworm, Crambus bonifatellus (Hulst). Results of laboratory and greenhouse tests, or, with the microsporidian, very limited field tests, indicate that the bacterium is the most promising of these. Further tests under natural conditions are necessary to establish their practical value.

The bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis Berliner, was the fastest-acting and was almost 100 per cent effective against all instars of the sodwebworm larva. Its spores can readily be produced in quantity on artificial media, can be stored dry for long periods with little loss of virulence, and, since they are miscible with water, can easily be prepared as a suspension for spraying. Laboratory tests indicate that they would also be effective if prepared as a dust. Humidity and temperature requirements for germination are not stringent.

Both strains of the fungus, Beauveria bassiana (Balsamo), were fairly fast-acting and were almost 100 per cent effective against early instars of the webworm larva. The strain isolated from Crambus sp, was more effective against late instars than that isolated from the European corn borer, but neither was completely effective. As with the bacillus, the fungus spores can readily be produced in quantity on artificial media and can be stored dry for some time. Since, in contrast with the bacillus spores, they are not miscible with water, a spore suspension for spraying was prepared with blood albumen spreader; but it proved less effective than a dust prepared with talc. The spores require high humidity and fairly high temperatures for germination—requirements that limit the practical applications of this agent.

The microsporidian, Nosema infesta Hall, is an obligate parasite, and no satisfactory method of producing its spores in quantity was found; yet heavy concentrations are required in field applications. It is slowacting and in limited field tests gave very low morbidity and mortality rates. Hence it seems ruled out as a possible agent in the control of the sod webworm, at least in a short-term program.

The effect of these microörganisms on beneficial insects is not known. None of them is believed to be dangerous to man, though sensitivity to the fungus spores may be acquired by inhaling large quantities of them.

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