Suppressing spread of alfalfa mosaic virus in grazed legume pasture swards using insecticides and admixture with grass, and effects of insecticides on numbers of aphids and three other pasture pests

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Abstract

Field experiments were sown with alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV)-infected or healthy seed of burr medic (Medicago polymorpha) and grazed by sheep. Seed-infected plants acted as primary sources for virus spread by naturally occurring aphids. Admixture with annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum), a non-host of AMV, and different insecticides were used in attempts to suppress virus spread. Sowing swards to provide the ratios 1:4 and 1:13 of medic:ryegrass plants diminished AMV spread in medic plants by 23% and 45% respectively. Applications of organophosphorus (demeton-s-methyl), carbamate (pirimicarb) and newer generation synthetic pyrethroid (alpha-cypermethrin) insecticides, all significantly decreased final AMV incidence. Alpha-cypermethrin was the most effective, suppressing AMV incidence by 87% (two sprays), 79% (one late spray) and 65% (one early spray). Two sprays of demeton-s-methyl decreased incidence by only 36%, while two and 2 weekly applications of pirimicarb diminished it by 29-65% and 35-70% respectively. AMV infection of medic seed harvested decreased by up to 76% in sprayed plots. Insecticide treatment did not prevent winged aphids from landing but numbers of wingless Acyrthosiphon kondoi colonising swards were suppressed by up to 92% by spraying with pirimicarb and up to 96% by alpha-cypermethrin. A. kondoi were much slower to recover with alpha-cypermethrin than with pirimicarb, the former still significantly diminishing its numbers 35 days after spraying. Alpha-cypermethrin was also very effective at suppressing Halotydeus destructor and Penthaleus major but not Sminthurus viridis. Greater effectiveness of insecticides in controlling spread of AMV in pasture than has been found previously with non-persistently aphid-transmitted viruses in annual crops seems due to the key role played by wingless aphids as virus vectors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-271
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of Applied Biology
Volume137
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

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