Guilty by association: an evaluation of millipedes as pests of carrot and sweet potato

Authors



Rebecca H. Hallett (corresponding author), School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada. E-mail: rhallett@uoguelph.ca

Abstract

An evaluation of the pest potential of millipede species occurring in Ontario sweet potato and carrot fields was conducted in response to recent grower concerns about the presence of millipedes in close proximity to damaged vegetables. This study is the first North American survey of millipedes on arable soils and the first evaluation of North American millipede damage to sweet potatoes and carrots. Through field surveys, Cylindroiulus caeruleocinctus was found to be the dominant millipede species in Ontario sweet potatoes and carrots. Fields were surveyed over the growing season, and the factors important to each species’ abundance were evaluated using Minimum AIC Estimation (MAICE). Post-harvest damage assessments were performed, and MAICE analysis was used to determine which arthropod and environmental parameters were most important in explaining damage to sweet potatoes and carrots. Wireworm (Elateridae) abundance was consistently found to explain root damage better than C. caeruleocinctus abundance, and it is concluded that the majority of field-observed damage was caused by wireworms. C. caeruleocinctus was negatively correlated with both wireworms and damage in carrot fields and is not likely to be a pest of that vegetable. However, abundance of C. caeruleocinctus in sweet potatoes was positively correlated with both wireworms and damage. This species may cause some damage to sweet potato tubers under field conditions, but management tactics should focus on wireworms as the primary source of damage.

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