Journal of Pest Science

, Volume 88, Issue 3, pp 517–531 | Cite as

The importance of alternative host plants as reservoirs of the cotton leaf hopper, Amrasca devastans, and its natural enemies

  • Rabia Saeed
  • Muhammad Razaq
  • Ian C. W. Hardy
Original Paper


Many agricultural pests can be harboured by alternative host plants but these can also harbour the pests’ natural enemies. We evaluated the capacity of non-cotton plant species (both naturally growing and cultivated) to function as alternative hosts for the cotton leaf hopper Amrasca devastans (Homoptera: Ciccadellidae) and its natural enemies. Forty-eight species harboured A. devastans. Twenty-four species were true breeding hosts, bearing both nymphal and adult A. devastans, the rest were incidental hosts. The crop Ricinus communis and the vegetables Abelmoschus esculentus and Solanum melongena had the highest potential for harbouring A. devastans and carrying it over into the seedling cotton crop. Natural enemies found on true alternative host plants were spiders, predatory insects (Chrysoperla carnea, Coccinellids, Orius spp. and Geocoris spp.) and two species of egg parasitoids (Arescon enocki and Anagrus sp.). Predators were found on 23 species of alternative host plants, especially R. communis. Parasitoids emerged from one crop species (R. communis) and three vegetable species; with 39 % of A. devastans parasitised. We conclude that the presence of alternative host plants provides both advantages and disadvantages to the cotton agro-ecosystem because they are a source of both natural enemy and pest species. To reduce damage by A. devastans, we recommend that weeds that harbour the pest should be removed, that cotton cultivation with R. communis, A. esculentus, and S. melongena should be avoided, that pesticides should be applied sparingly to cultivate alternative host plants and that cotton crops should be sown earlier.


Amrasca devastans Survey Population density Plant characteristics Natural enemies 



We are grateful to Muhammad Rafiq, Entomology Department of Central Cotton Research Institute, Old Shujaabad Road, Multan (Pakistan) for helping to conduct the surveys. We thank Apostolos Kapranas and two anonymous referees for comments on the manuscript. R.S. thanks The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan for Research Initiative Programme funding to visit the UK.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rabia Saeed
    • 1
  • Muhammad Razaq
    • 2
  • Ian C. W. Hardy
    • 3
  1. 1.Entomology DepartmentCentral Cotton Research InstituteMultanPakistan
  2. 2.Department of Entomology, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and TechnologyBahauddin Zakariya UniversityMultanPakistan
  3. 3.School of BiosciencesUniversity of NottinghamLoughboroughUK

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