The strawberry seed bug, Neopamera bilobata (Say), is an emerging pest of organic and conventional strawberries in Florida. There is limited information on this Rhyparochromidae species. Thus, the type of injury caused is not clearly documented and management recommendations are lacking. In this study, we evaluated the effect of strawberry cultivars, cover crops, and the presence of runners on N. bilobata populations and yield. We also investigated the effect of select cultivars and the presence of runners on N. bilobata injury levels. In addition, we used fruit bagging experiments to investigate the effects of N. bilobata population and life stage (nymph vs. adult) on strawberry fruits. There was no effect of cover crop or cultivar on N. bilobata populations. In the 2017-2018 season, strawberry plots with runners contained higher N. bilobata populations compared with plots without runners, and adult infestation was significantly higher than nymphal infestation. In the 2018-2019 season, the trend was reversed with higher numbers of N. bilobata collected in plots with runners removed. In the 2019-2020 season, there was no significant difference in N. bilobata populations in plots with and without runners. In both 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, nymphal infestation was higher than adult infestation. Less injury was recorded in "Florida Brilliance" compared with the other cultivars tested. In the 2019-2020 season, less injury was recorded from plots without runners while the difference was not significant in 2017-2018 or 2018-2019. Releasing five and ten adult N. bilobata on ripe (red) fruit produced a similar level of injury while no injury to unripe (green) fruit was observed. Both adults and nymphs cause injury to ripe fruit. These findings can help contribute to the development of an integrated pest management program for strawberry N. bilobata.
Keywords: cover crops; runners; strawberry cultivar; strawberry seed bugs.