Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: Plant Research
Lenneisha Gilbert - University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) and squash (Cucurbita) belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family are important crops to the United States because of their economical and nutritional values. There are over 50 different varieties of watermelon, however; the cultivar ‘Crimson Sweet’ is one of the most consumed watermelon varieties in the nation. While both of these plant species have important economic value within the food market there are two insect pests, Acalymma vittatum (striped cucumber beetles) and Diabrotica undecimpunctata (spotted cucumber beetles), that decrease the yield and the revenue received by the farmers. To avoid crop damage from cucumber beetles and to decrease their population many farmers choose to use toxic chemicals. These chemical pesticides have been linked to many detrimental effects such as affecting human health, environmental impact, decrease beneficial insects? population and causes insects to become resistance. Adult cucumber beetles will always be moving into a crop from somewhere else. Cucumber beetles generally aggregate at field edges regardless, and attractive trap crops may further help this tendency. Therefore, the main focus of this experiment was to determine the effectiveness of using a variety of squash (i.e. Dunja, Tempest, Desert, or Yellowfin) as a trap crop to protect Crimson Sweet watermelons. A total of seven plots were randomly planted with either Crimson sweet watermelon (n=3), watermelon with either Tempest, Dunja or Yellowfin squash (n=3), or all four variety of squash (n=1). A total of three fields were planted with squash and watermelons. There was one type of squash variety (Tempest, Dunja or Yellowfin) planted within each of the three fields, however; Crimson Sweet watermelon was planted in all of the three fields., In all plots, squash crops were planted on the perimeter of the field and watermelon crops were planted in the center of the field. The next four plots were used for the control plots. In three control plots, only watermelons were grown, however; in the last control plot, all four variants of squash were grown. All test plots were 50 ft. long and 30 feet wide (3 rows 10 ft. apart, – 4-6 ft. plant spacing 8 plants per row). After 10 weeks of growth and observation, it was revealed that most of the insect damage occurred on squash plants. Interestingly, watermelon plots without squash were highly damaged by the beetles than the watermelon plots surrounded by squash plants. This indicates that Dunja, Tempest, Desert, or Yellowfin squash crops have the potential to be an effective trap crop for watermelon. Further studies are needed to determine what chemical signals are being released from squash crops that attract cucumber beetles. References: Bisognin, Dilson. (2002). Origin and evolution of cultivated cucurbits. Ci?ncia Rural. 32. 10.1590/S0103-84782002000400028. Geisler, Malinda. (2019). Squash. Website: https://www.agmrc.org/commodities-products/vegetables/squash
Evans, B. G., & Renkema, J. M. (2018, May). striped cucumber beetle. Retrieved from https://entnemdept.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/VEG/BEAN/striped_cucumber_beetle.html
Funder Acknowledgement(s): I thank Dr. S. Zebelo and T. Tigolst for advising me. A special thanks to my lab crew for help in the field and laboratory studies. Funding was provided by the Louis Stokes Bridge to Doctorate scholarship.
Faculty Advisor/Mentor: Simon Zebelo, email@example.com
Funder Acknowledgement(s): 1) The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Bridge to the Doctorate (BD) Fellowships. 2)The National Science Foundation
Faculty Advisor: Simon Zebelo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: The research was entirely conducted from myself, advisor and research lab workers. From ploughing ,plant and harvesting I was involved in all aspect of the research.