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Variability in abundance of the rosy apple aphid (Dysaphis plantaginea), the role of its alternate host (Plantago major), and potential control strategies in organic apple orchards in British Columbia Brown, Amanda Erica


The rosy apple aphid, Dysaphis plantaginea, (Homoptera: Aphididae) is a serious pest of apples in British Columbia (BC), Canada and especially in organic orchards where conventional controls cannot be used. The goals of this study were to determine the environmental or management factors of an orchard that lead to high aphid populations, to conduct an economic assessment of the damage, to determine the timing of autumn migration, and to test several autumn and spring chemical control methods and two novel autumn mechanical control methods targeting the aphids while on their alternate host, Plantago major. To explain the variation among orchards, I evaluated several potential correlates of aphid density: abundance of the alternate host (plantain, Plantago major), foliar tree nitrogen, tree age, tree planting density, and the application of an oil treatment in spring. Stepwise regression indicated that foliar nitrogen and tree age explain 27% of the variation. Orchards receiving a spring oil application had a 53% lower average aphid infestation level. Plantain abundance was not related to aphid population on apple. However, experimental manipulation of leaf angle from the ground and size showed that significantly more alate and apterous aphids occurred on large, low angle leaves. Mowing prior to spring aphid migration was associated with 75% fewer alatae and apterae on the plantain. The loss in harvest resulting from aphid damage ranged from 3% to 76% of the crop. Effective autumn control depends on accurate timing of aphid flight. The peak of female flight occurred on the 27th of September, 2007 at 11:56 hours daylength (sunrise to sunset) and the peak of male flight occurred on the12th of October, 2007 at 11:02 hours daylength. Aphid densities in the spring of 2008 were very low, making comparisons between treatments and controls difficult. Autumn applications of Superior dormant oil and kaolin clay were not effective. The PureSpray Green treatments of two October applications and one April application showed a significant reduction in rosy apple aphid infested clusters compared with the untreated control. Mowing and rotavating did not result in a significant reduction in aphid infestation level.

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