Evaluation of the bioefficacy and insecticide compatibility of entomopathogens for management of whitefly (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) on upland cotton under laboratory and polyhouse conditions.
Entomopathogens (EPFs) are potential alternatives to chemical insecticides for managing Bemisia tabaci (Genn.), an invasive pest of the cotton crop. EPFs alone may not always provide enough insect pest control, but combining EPFs with pesticides, provided both components are compatible, can make an integrated pest management program considerably more effective. Hence, the bioefficacy of EPFs against whitefly, their compatibility with pesticides, and the factors responsible for determining compatibility were studied. The highest nymphal mortality was recorded with the Beauveria bassiana strains Bb-4511 (95.1%) and Bb-4565 (89.9%), and Metarhizium anisopliae Ma-1299 (86.7%) at 1 × 106 conidia ml-1. Lower LC50 values were observed for Cordyceps javanica Cj-089 and Bb-4511, 0.2 × 104 and 0.5 × 104 conidia ml-1, respectively. The toxicity index values in insecticide sensitivity assays ranged from 19.4 to 119.6% among all the EPFs. Comparatively, all the EPFs except Bb-4543 and Bb-4565 showed compatible to moderately toxic reactions to neonicotinoids and spinosyns. Organophosphates (ethion) and pyrethrins (bifenthrin) were toxic to very toxic to all the EPFs except Bb-4511, Fv-083, and Ma-1299. Cj-102 and Cj-089 were compatible with 50% of the average recommended dose of bifenthrin and ethion, and the average recommended dose for the field application of neonicotinoids and spinosyns. Principal component analysis showed that spore production and toxicity index values correlate with each other and are responsible for determining the EPF compatibility with insecticides. The EPF spore production and toxicity index are important factors for determining chemical compatibility. Compatible EPFs can be used individually or in combination as promising and compatible biological alternatives to insecticides in the management of whitefly in cotton.