The impact of natural enemies on cotton aphid, Aphis gossypii Glover (Hemiptera: Aphididae), populations in cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L., production systems in the southeastern United States was evaluated over 3 yr in irrigated commercial cotton fields. Fungal epizootics caused by the entomopathogen Neozygites fresenii (Nowakowski) Batko reduced aphid numbers to subthreshold levels in 1999, 2000, and 2001 and occurred consistently in early to mid-July in all 3 yr. Scymnus spp. were the most abundant aphidophagous predators, although other coccinellid species and generalist predators such as spiders, fire ants, heteropterans, and neuropterans also were present. Studies using arthropod exclusion cages demonstrated little impact of predators or parasitoids on aphid populations before fungal epizootics. Arthropod natural enemies were most abundant after epizootics and may have suppressed aphid populations late in the season. Seed cotton yield, and lint quality were not affected by aphicide applications in any year of the study. Implications of these findings for aphid management in the southeastern United States are discussed.
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Vol. 101 • No. 1