Field studies were conducted to compare insect population levels in greenhouse crops covered with plastics that block the transmission of UV light in two wavelength ranges. Crops grown in greenhouses under a plastic that blocked UV light at wavelengths of 380 nm and below had lower numbers of aphids and thrips compared with a plastic that blocked UV light at wavelengths of 360 nm and below. This is consistent with the results found for thrips in previous studies using small, completely enclosed tunnels with no plant material. The effects were not as dramatic in the commercial greenhouses, perhaps due to unfiltered light entering through the open sides of those greenhouses. There was no reduction in greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum Westwood, populations under the <380 UV-absorbing plastic compared to <360 nm UV-absorbing plastic in these field trials. This is inconsistent with results found in small, completely enclosed tunnels, where sticky traps caught a significantly higher proportion (95 ± 2%) of released greenhouse whiteflies inside tunnels covered with <360 nm absorbing plastic compared with the <380 nm absorbing plastic. The results of these studies suggest that the type of greenhouse plastic used in a structure can affect population levels of some insect species, and may be useful tools in developing integrated pest management programs for insect management. The design of the greenhouse and amount of unfiltered light that enters the system appear to be important factors in determining the level of effect.
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Vol. 95 • No. 1