London rocket is a common winter annual weed in southern New Mexico that can host beet curly top virus and its insect vector, the beet leafhopper. Experiments were conducted in southern New Mexico to determine if London rocket could serve as a host for overwintering beet leafhopper. Field experiments were carried out from 2002 to 2003 and from 2003 to 2004 to compare the impact of three London rocket planting dates on plant emergence and life history and leafhopper survival. Emergence was highest in October-planted London rocket, low in January/February plantings, and did not occur for August plantings. The life cycle was 185 d and 125 d for October- and January-planted London rocket, respectively, and growth of the plant (including height and rosette base diameter) was greater for London rocket that was planted in October. October-planted London rocket survived from late October through mid to late April, the period of time needed to serve as an overwintering host for beet leafhoppers. Caging the plants to assess beet leafhopper survival did not affect rate of plant growth, but it reduced the time to flowering for October-planted London rocket and increased the height and weight of plants. Beet leafhoppers were able to survive for approximately 2 mo in early winter or spring on caged London rocket plants.
Nomenclature: London rocket, Sisymbrium irio L. SSYIR; beet leafhopper, Circulifer tenellus (Baker); beet curly top virus, Curtovirus.