New approaches to aphid control in strawberries combining botanicals with natural enemies

October 2019 – September 2023

Ross George

Ross studied his BSc in Forensic Science at the University of Lincoln and MSc in Entomology at the Harper Adams University.

Aphids continue to infest UK strawberries and cause extensive losses. The insecticides that are approved for aphid control are either inconsistent in their efficacy or have a negative impact on the biologicals that are introduced to control aphids and other insect and mite pests.

In this project, Ross will test plant-derived compounds with demonstrated activity as insecticides and/or as elicitors of plant defence. Experimental research will include the following aspects:

  • Bioassays to compare the efficacy of plant-derived compounds against aphids feeding on strawberry relative to conventional insecticides
  • Video and image analysis to study aphid behaviour at the plant surface following treatment and assess knock-down and antifeedant/repellent effects
  • Using the electrical penetration graph (EPG) to quantify the impact of these compounds on the pathway to the phloem, salivation, and ingestion of sap
  • Video analysis to investigate the effects on the searching behaviour of
    parasitoid wasps, natural enemies of aphids
  • Comparative gene expression studies to quantify the transcription of defence-related genes following aphid infestation with and without chemical treatment
  • Field experiments to test the efficacy of plant-derived compounds used alone or in combination with aphid natural enemies.