In peanut—cotton farmscapes in Georgia, the stink bugs Nezara viridula (L.) and Chinavia hilaris (Say) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) and the leaffooted bug, Leptoglossus phyllopus (L.) (Hemiptera: Coreidae), disperse at crop-to-crop interfaces to feed on bolls in cotton. The main objective of this study was to determine whether insecticide-free tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica L.), a nectar-producing plant, can increase parasitism of these bugs by Trichopoda pennipes (F.) (Diptera: Tachinidae) and provide nectar to monarch butterflies and insect pollinators in these farmscapes. Peanut– cotton plots with and without flowering milkweed plants were established in 2009 and 2010. Adult T. pennipes, monarch butterflies, honey bees, and native insect pollinators readily fed on floral nectar of milkweed. Monarch larvae feeding on milkweed vegetation successfully developed into pupae. In 2009, N. viridula was the primary host of T. pennipes in cotton, and parasitism of this pest by the parasitoid was significantly higher in milkweed cotton (61.6%) than in control cotton (13.3%). In 2010, parasitism of N. viridula, C. hilaris, and L. phyllopus by T. pennipes was significantly higher in milkweed cotton (24.0%) than in control cotton (1.1%). For both years of the study, these treatment differences were not owing to a response by the parasitoid to differences in host density, because density of hosts was not significantly different between treatments. In conclusion, incorporation of milkweed in peanut— cotton plots increased stink bug parasitism in cotton and provided nectar to insect pollinators and monarch butterflies.
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Vol. 43 • No. 2