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The use of Pollen to Determine Stink Bug Dispersal

G.D. Jones


Southern green stink bugs [(Nezara viridula (L.)] are occasional insect pests in cotton and other agricultural crops. Damage to the plant from stink bug feeding includes the loss of plant fluids and the deformation and abortion of seed and fruiting structures. Although stink bugs are known to move from host to host, little is known about their dispersal between cropping systems. Pollen analyses are an effective tool in determining long and short distance migration and dispersal. Since stink bugs feed on plant parts including flowers and fruits, it is likely that they can become contaminated with pollen. Adult stink bugs were collected in Burleson Co., TX and examined for pollen. Pollen and spores were found in light microscopy analyses but not in scanning electron analyses. Seventeen pollen taxa and three spore taxa were found in the stinkbugs including pollen from Asteraceae, cotton (Gossypium hirsutum C. Linnaeus), corn (Zea mays C. Linnaeus), and false honeysuckle (Gaura sp.). In laboratory tests when fed 50% sugar-water containing Lycopodium clavatum C. Linnaeus spores, 100% of the stinkbugs contained spores for up to seven days. The presence of pollen and the longevity of the Lycopodium spores indicate that pollen analyses can be used to determine dispersal. However, future research is needed to correlate the pollen recovered from stink bugs and surrounding habitats and to field test the use of Lycopodium as an artificial maker for stink bug dispersal.

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Document last modified 04/27/04