Use of Ground Covers to Control Three-Cornered Alfalfa Hopper, Spissistilus festinus (Hemiptera: Membracidae), and Other Suspected Vectors of Grapevine Red Blotch Virus.J Econ Entomol. 2021 08 05; 114(4):1462-1469.JE
Grapevine red blotch virus (GRBV) is the causal agent of grapevine red blotch disease, which affects wine grapes and leads to reduced crop yield and quality. The pathogen-plant-vector relationship of GRBV is not well understood; however, some possible vectors have been identified: Caladonus coquilletti (Van Duzee; Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), Colladonus reductus (Van Duzee; Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), Erythroneura spp., Melanoliarus sp. (Hemiptera: Cixiidae), Osbornellus borealis DeLong. & Mohr (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), Scaphytopius granticus (Ball; Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), Spissistilus festinus (Say). Of these species, S. festinus has been shown to transmit the virus to uninfected grapevines, making it of particular interest. Since the pathogen-plant-vector relationship of GRBV is not yet completely understood, pesticide use is not necessarily the best way to manage these possible vectors. Here we test if ground cover removal, by discing in spring, could reduce the activity of potential GRBV vectors. We show that S. festinus presence in the canopy was reduced in disc rows compared to just mowing the ground vegetation, whereas there were no differences in presence in the canopy between disc and mow rows of the other possible insect vectors. Erythroneura elegantula (Osborn; Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), a common pest of grapevines but not a candidate GRBV vector, was found to have higher densities in the canopy in disc rows compared to mow rows, an effect possibly mediated by changes in vine vigor associated with ground covers. We conclude that if S. festinus is a primary vector of GRBV, discing ground covers in early spring may be a viable way to reduce their presence in the vine canopy.