Crop diversification for sustainable insect pest management in eggplant (Solanales: Solanaceae).
An experiment was conducted to manage the eggplant (brinjal) shoot and fruit borer Leucinodes orbonalis Guenée (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), the leafhopper Amrasca biguttula biguttula (Ishida) (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), and the whitefly Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) during kharif, the southwest monsoon season (Jul-Oct), in 2010 and 2011 at an experimental farm at the Division of Entomology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. The experiment consisted of 7 different treatments with brinjal or eggplant 'Pusa Kranti', Solanum melongena L. (Solanales: Solanaceae), as the main crop and coriander, marigold or mint as intercrops, along with a border crop (maize or cowpea) acting as refuge crops. Treatment T1 (maize as border crop and coriander as intercrop) harbored the smallest cumulative mean leafhopper population (6.90 insects per 3 leaves per plant) and the next to smallest mean whitefly population (9.64 insects per 3 leaves per plant) during monsoon season of 2010 and 2011. Treatment T3 (maize as border crop and marigold as intercrop) was second best in reducing the leafhopper population (7.27 insects per 3 leaves per plant), while it was the best treatment in reducing the whitefly population (8.36 insects per 3 leaves per plant). The sole crop (T7) harbored the largest whitefly (20.17 insects per 3 leaves per plant) and leafhopper (12.61 insects per 3 leaves per plant) populations among the 7 treatments. The lowest mean percentage fruit infestation was recorded from treatment T1 (by number: 27.72; by weight: 27.81). All the treatments involving intercrops showed significantly lower percentage fruit infestation by L. orbonalis than eggplant alone (T7, control), which showed 37.73% infestation by number of fruits and 38.13% by weight of the fruits. The greatest mean number of coccinellids (1.25 per plant) and largest Shannon-Wiener indices were recorded from treatment T1 (maize and coriander). The smallest mean number of coccinellids (0.37 per plant) and smallest Shannon-Wiener indices were recorded from the sole crop control, T7. Various plant volatiles present in the intercrop were identified by the thermal desorption technique. Twenty one volatile compounds were present in coriander, 7 in marigold, and 18 in mint. The current state of knowledge of the behavioral effects (repellency, attractancy, no effect) of each chemical with respect the various herbivorous insects and natural enemies is summarized and this information will facilitate quantitative studies on how different pest and beneficial insects respond to plant volatiles in polycultures.