In this study, we evaluated the potential use of entomopathogenic nematodes as a control for the beetle Aethina tumida Murray (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae). In particular, we conducted 1) four screening bioassays to determine nematode (seven species, 10 total strains tested) and application level effects on A. tumida larvae and pupae, 2) a generational persistence bioassay to determine whether single inoculations with nematodes would control multiple generations of A. tumida larvae in treated soil, and 3) a field bioassay to determine whether the nematodes would remain efficacious in the field. In the screening bioassays, nematode efficacy varied significantly by tested nematode and the infective juvenile (IJ) level at which they were applied. Although nematode virulence was moderate in screening bioassays 1–3 (0–68% A. tumida mortality), A. tumida mortality approached higher levels in screening bioassay 4 (nearly 100% after 39 d) that suggest suitable applicability of some of the test nematodes as field controls for A. tumida. In the generational persistence bioassay, Steinernema riobrave Cabanillas, Poinar & Raulston 7–12 strain and Heterorhabditis indica Poinar, Karunaka & David provided adequate A. tumida control for 19 wk after a single soil inoculation (76–94% mortality in A. tumida pupae). In the field bioassay, the same two nematode species also showed high virulence toward pupating A. tumida (88–100%) mortality. Our data suggest that nematode use may be an integral component of an integrated pest management scheme aimed at reducing A. tumida populations in bee colonies to tolerable levels.
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Vol. 103 • No. 1