Entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi to control Hyalesthes obsoletus (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha: Cixiidae)
Hyalesthes obsoletus Signoret (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha: Cixiidae) is a univoltine, polyphagous planthopper that completes its life cycle, including the subterranean nymph cryptic stage, on herbaceous weeds. In vineyards, it can transmit ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’, an obligate parasitic bacterium associated with bois noir (BN) disease of grapevine, from its host plants to grapevine when occasionally feeding on the latter. The main disease management strategies are based on vector(s) control. Insecticide treatments on grapevine canopy are completely inefficient on H. obsoletus, due to its life cycle. Consequently, control of this planthopper focuses on the nymphs living on the roots of their host plants. Such practices, based on herbicide application and/or weed management, can reduce vector density in the vineyard but can impact the environment or may not be applicable, highlighting the necessity for alternative strategies. In this study, the efficacy of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs; Steinernema carpocapsae, S. feltiae, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) and fungi (EPFs; Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium anisopliae, Isaria fumosorosea, Lecanicillium muscarium) against H. obsoletus nymphs (EPNs) and adults (EPNs and EPFs) was assessed under laboratory and greenhouse conditions. The majority of examined EPNs and EPFs were able to kill H. obsoletus exhibiting a range of effectiveness. S. carpocapsae (among EPNs) and I. fumosorosea (among EPFs) were found to be the most effective biocontrol agents in all trials carried out. Advantages and limitations of such promising biocontrol agents were discussed. Ecological competency and conditions that can impede or enhance the EPNs and EPFs performance should be investigated to optimize their performance under field conditions.