We tested the effects among a purportedly sustainable water-soluble fertilizer, a conventional water-soluble fertilizer, an alternation of these, a controlled-release fertilizer, and a clear water control on the life-history traits of sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae; = Bemisia argentifolii Bellows & Perring) biotype B reared on poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willdenow ex Klotzch). Free amino acids in petioles were measured to estimate plant nutrient assimilation and phloem nutritional quality for B. tabaci biotype B. The sustainable fertilizer produced plants with the highest concentration of amino acids. In contrast, fecundity of whiteflies was lowest in plants treated with the sustainable fertilizer and the water control. The relationship between total amino acids in phloem and survival was significantly quadratic, with the highest survival at intermediate levels. Fecundity, however, was negatively correlated with total amino acid content of the maternal host plant. Variation in total amino acid concentration in petioles of plants treated within fertilizer treatments makes it difficult to predict whether a particular fertilizer will produce plants with enough amino acids to deleteriously affect both survivorship and fecundity and yet yield a plant of good quality. Despite this limitation, we can conclude that the use of this sustainable fertilizer will not cause increases in whitefly populations relative to plants fertilized with water-soluble and slow-release fertilizers that deliver the same level of nitrogen to the plant.
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Vol. 104 • No. 2