BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to assess white mustard (Sinapis alba L.) as a trap crop for diamondback moth [Plutella xylostella (L.)] on cauliflower [Brassica oleracea (L.) var. Lateman]. Moth behaviour on these plants and the importance of plant age and size in maintaining pest preference for trap crop plants were also investigated.\ud RESULTS: Three times as many eggs were laid on cauliflower plants that were unprotected than on plants protected by a trap crop of white mustard. Moths remained longer on the mustard plants as a result of a doubling in the mean duration of information-providing behaviours. Plant age had little effect on P. xylostella host preference. When plant age was constant, percentage oviposition on mustard was higher when these were larger (93%) than copresented cauliflower plants, compared with when they were smaller (68%).\ud CONCLUSION: Trap cropping with white mustard may reduce the incidence of P. xylostella in cauliflower crops. The pest management benefits of trap crops may be maximised by using trap crop plants that are larger than the main crop plants, although relatively smaller trap crop plants may still be preferred as hosts for P. xylostella per se. Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industr
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