Plant Water Stress Effects on the Net Dispersal Rate of the Insect Vector Homalodisca vitripennis (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) and Movement of Its Egg Parasitoid, Gonatocerus ashmeadi (Hymenoptera: Mymaridae)

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Homalodisca vitripennis (Germar), a vector of Xylella fastidiosa, is associated with citrus plantings in California. Infested citrus orchards act as a source of vectors to adjacent vineyards where X. fastidiosa causes Pierce's disease. An analysis of the pattern and rate of movement of H. vitripennis and its egg parasitoid, Gonatocerus ashmeadi Girault, was conducted in a citrus orchard by using a protein mark capture technique to quantify movement and net dispersal rates in the experimental areas. Treatments included irrigation at 100% of the crop evapotranspiration rate (ETc), 80, and 60% ETc. Sex-specific net dispersal rates showed that H. vitripennis males and females moved consistently and contributed equally to the level of population change within treated areas. Trees irrigated at 60% ETc were the least preferred by H. vitripennis. Among all protein-marked individuals captured in the 60% ETc treatment, approximate to 75 and 88% in 2005 and 2006, respectively, were inflow individuals. Movement toward less preferable plants indicates that in agricultural landscapes dominated by perennial monocultures, there is a random component to H. vitripennis movement, which may result from the inability of H. vitripennis to use plant visual cues, olfactory cues, or both to make well-informed long-range decisions. The 80% ETc areas were a significant source of adult H. vitripennis and G. ashmeadi compared with the other treatments. Colonization rates by parasitoids were synchronized with the spatiotemporal distribution of H. vitripennis eggs. Results suggest that H. vitripennis movement from citrus into adjacent vineyards could be a result of random dispersal rather than oriented movement in response to host-plant characteristics.


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  • Xylella fastidiosa