Seasonal dispersal and diversity of aphid species were monitored on pepper farms in St. Catherine, Jamaica throughout 1998 and 1999 to identify the most likely vectors of tobacco etch virus (TEV) in pepper fields. Flight activity was monitored weekly on five farms using water pan traps. More than 30 aphid species were identified, 12 of which are new records for Jamaica. Ninety-two percent of the aphids captured from October 1998 through July 1999 belonged to only seven of the >30 species identified. Of these seven species, Aphis gossypii Glover and those in the Uroleucon ambrosiae (Thomas) complex comprised more than two-thirds of the total. Five known vectors of TEV were captured: A. gossypii, Aphis craccivora Koch, Aphis spiraecola Patch, Myzus persicae (Sulzer), and Lipaphis pseudobrassicae Davis. Generally, more aphids were collected from mid-September through mid-May than from mid-May through mid-September. The influence that rainfall and temperature had on periods of aphid flight activity also was investigated. Results indicated that flight of some species increased 3–4 wk after a rainfall event, whereas temperature did not appear to affect flight activity. High populations of A. gossypii as well as the presence of four additional known TEV vectors were encountered in October and November, which is the period that significant acreage is transplanted to pepper for harvest to coincide with the winter export market. Because pepper is most vulnerable to yield loss when young plants become infected with TEV, pepper production in Jamaica may be threatened if commonly abundant species such as A. gossypii are carrying TEV. Based on this information, implications for management of pepper viruses and their aphid vectors in Jamaica are discussed.
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