Arthropod assemblages were monitored on cowpea during the 2008/2009 cropping season in the Transkei area of South Africa. A total of 5953 insects belonging to 21 species, in 12 families and 5 orders (Coleoptera, Hemiptera, Orthoptera, Homoptera and Lepidoptera) were counted from 18 observations on cowpea from seedling to maturity. Aphids, Lepidoptera larvae, blister beetles and pod-sucking bugs accounted for high levels of population infestations, persistence and overall damage inflicted on the crop. Natural enemies recorded during the study were ladybird beetles, wasps, assassin bugs and spiders. Insect pest activity was much concentrated between eight and thirteen weeks after sowing (WAS) corresponding to flower budding and pod formation stages of cowpea respectively. Results from this study have significant implications for the integrated control of the insect pest complex of cowpea in sub-tropical agro ecosystems.
Key words: Cowpea, Vigna unguiculata, insect pests, natural enemies, Transkei.
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