Since 2014, populations of the kudzu bug, Megacopta cribraria (F.) (Hemiptera: Plataspidae), have declined in the southeastern United States and seldom require treatment. This decline follows the discovery of Paratelenomus saccharalis (Dodd; Hymenoptera: Platygastridae), a non-native egg parasitoid. The objective of this project was to observe the temporal and spatial dynamics of P. saccharalis parasitism of kudzu bug egg masses in commercial soybean fields. Four fields were sampled weekly for kudzu bugs and egg masses at a density of one sample per 0.6 ha. Sampling commenced when soybean reached the R2 maturity stage and continued until no more egg masses were present. Responses including kudzu bugs, egg masses, and parasitism rates were analyzed using ANOVA, Spatial Analysis by Distance Indices (SADIE), and SaTScan spatial analysis software. Egg masses were collected from the field, held in the lab and monitored for emergence of kudzu bug nymphs or P. saccharalis. Kudzu bug populations were generally lower than previously reported in the literature and spatial aggregation was not consistently observed. Egg parasitism was first detected in early July and increased to nearly 40% in mid-August. Significant spatial patterns in parasitism were observed with spatio-temporal clusters being loosely associated with clusters of egg masses. There were no significant differences in parasitism rates between field margins and interiors, suggesting that P. saccharalis is an effective parasitoid of kudzu bug egg masses on a whole-field scale.
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Vol. 46 • No. 6