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Assessment of the impact of herbivores and

pollinators on Physalis fruit yield

Julie Davis
Department of Entomology
Cornell University
Both pests and pollinators
affect yield
In NYS, several herbivores cause
problems for vegetative growth
and fruit production in Physalis,

Goldenberry/ground cherry are

self-compatible but produce
higher quality fruit when insect
Lema pests on Ground cherry
and Goldenberry
• Lema trivittata , the 3-lined potato beetles,
are a major pest of Physalis.

• We wanted to know if the different cultivars

differ in their resistance to this pest so plant
breeders can breed for this
I compared adult
egg laying and larval
damage of different
cultivars of ground
cherry and

Pest resistance experiments

Lema beetles damaged ground
cherry more than goldenberry

• Adults laid 80% more eggs on ground

• Larvae gain more weight on ground cherry
For ground cherry, Lema laid the fewest
eggs on Goldie, and Lema larvae did not
perform as well on this cultivar.
• In contrast, adults laid the most eggs and
larvae grew the most on the ZlO5 cultivar
For Goldenberry, the South Africa cultivar may be
more resistant than India and Goldenberry. India
received the most damage and highest number of
Future work: what helps
Physalis deal with
• Maybe leaf chemicals– we are working to
identify which chemical traits affect beetle
preference and performance
Future work: Fruit pests

• Which cultivars are most resistant to the

fruit eating caterpillars, and why?
Farmers market
• For Goldenberry: 37% of participants liked GB the
best; 37% liked South Africa the best and 25% liked
India the best
• For Ground Cherry: 25% of participants preferred
Goldie; 35% preferred Pineapple and 38% preferred
• 32% of participants would buy both types of fruit
• 29% would buy only goldenberry
• 27% would only buy ground cherry
• 11% would buy neither
• Most people would prefer to buy it in the husk
• Screened 17 cultivars to assess
their resistance to herbivores
Tomatillo trials • Compared cultivars to assess
differences in yield
The three-lined potato beetle
(Lema trivittata) and flea
beetles caused most damage
• Aphids and treehoppers
were the second most
abundant pests
• When they are present,
Colorado Potato Beetle
also does damage
Plants with more damage
had lower yield, but the
effect was relatively small

• This is consistent with Esperanza’s reports

that tomatillos seem relatively robust to
herbivore damage
• Variety had a much bigger affect on yield --
some varieties produced more than 5x as
much fruit
Bumble, sweat, small carpenter and
Colletid bees were the most
common pollinators
• What do you want to know?
• Retail vs wholesale market potential
• information on growth/maturity dates
• Nutrient requirements