Project Title: Assessing the effects of Spear Insecticide, a bio-engineered spider venom product, on Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica Newman)
Mentor: Andrew Radin
Abstract: Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica Newman is a major pest of turf, ornamentals, and vegetable crops. Adults feed on the foliage of basil, Ocimum basilicum, a popular fresh culinary herb. A common broad spectrum insecticide used to control it, Carbaryl, is also highly toxic to bees, which visit basil flowers. In this study, we tested the efficacy of a novel insecticidal material (Spear) derived from spider venom, in combination with a commercial Bacillus thuringiensis Tenebrionis product called Novodor. The latter product only has activity on beetles, and Spear is also highly selective. We performed caged field assays and rated beetle feeding damage following exposure to these two products applied singly and in mixture. There was also an untreated control and a treatment with Carbaryl. Neither of the test products, applied in combination or singly, reduced feeding damage in comparison to the untreated control, and Carbaryl effectively reduced damage in comparison to all other treatments. We conclude that these products are ineffective at reducing Japanese beetle feeding damage under this set of experimental conditions.