Effects of citrus and avocado irrigation and nitrogen-form soil amendment on host selection by adult Homalodisca vitripennis (Hemiptera : Cicadellidae)
Host plant water status is thought to influence dispersal of the xylophagous leafhopper Homalodisca vitripennis Germar, especially where plants are grown under high evaporative demand. Preference by adult H. vitripennis for plants grown under different water deficit and nitrogen form fertilization regimens was studied under laboratory conditions.. Leafhopper abundance and ovipositional preference were studied on potted 'Washington navel' orange and 'Haas' avocado in cage choice tests, and feeding rate was estimated using excreta produced by insects confined on plants. A similar study compared responses to citrus treated with 1:1 and 26:1 ratios of fertigated nitrate-N to ammonium-N. The insects were more abundant, oviposited, and fed significantly more on surplus-irrigated plants than on plants under moderate continuous deficit irrigation except avocado feeding, which was nearly significant. Plants exposed to drought became less preferred after 3 and 7 d in avocado and citrus, respectively. Citrus xylem fluid tension at this point was estimated at 0.93 MPa. A corresponding pattern of decline in feeding rate was observed on citrus, but on avocado, feeding rate was low overall and not statistically different between treatments. No statistical differences in abundance, oviposition, or feeding were detected on citrus fertigated with 26:1 or 1:1 ratios of nitrate-N to ammonium-N. Feeding occurred diurnally on both plant species. Discussion is provided on the potential deployment of regulated deficit irrigation to manage H. vitripennis movement as part of a multitactic effort to minimize the risk of disease outbreaks from Xylella fastidiosa Wells et al. in southern California agriculture.