- Author: Shimat Villanassery Joseph
- Author: Mark Bolda
Lygus bug (Lygus hesperus) (Fig. 1) is a major pest of strawberry in the Central Coast. Lygus bug populations develop on weed hosts surrounding the strawberry fields such as wild radish, common groundsel, lupines, and mustards (Zalom et al. 2012). Time to time, adults migrate into the strawberry fields and lay eggs. Eggs hatch, and molt through five nymphal stages before molting into adults. Lygus bug feeding on the developing embryos affects the normal development of tissues surrounding the embryo (Handley and Pollard 1993) and affected fruits are misshapen often referred as “catfaced fruit” (Fig. 2) which are deemed unmarketable. Although both nymphs and adults can cause catface injury, nymphs are considered more destructive than adults. The young fruits up to ~10 days after petal fall are considered vulnerable to economic injury from lygus bug feeding (Zalom et al. 2012).
Chemical control continues to be an effective tool for lygus bug control and growers are always seeking effective and softer insecticides for its control. A replicated trial comparing the efficacy of insecticide treatments against lygus bug was conducted in first-year strawberry ‘San Andreas' in Watsonville, CA in 2016. The details on insecticide products and rates used in the trial are shown in Table 1. The insecticides were applied twice at 10 day interval using commercial tractor mounted sprayer. The water volume used for both the applications was 150 gal per acre and was applied at 140 psi. Dyne-Amic (surfactant) was added at 0.25% v/v to all the treatments. Insect samples were collected using regular sized Rubbermaid container by hitting 20 flowering strawberry plants with lid. In addition, 60 fruits were sampled from each plot to determine catface injury.
Pre-count sample did not show any difference in number of adult and nymphal lygus bugs among treatments (Figs. 3 and 4). Overall, all the insecticide treatments reduced the number of lygus bug adults and nymphs compared with untreated plants. The combination treatments using pyrethroid insecticides such as Danitol and Brigade suppressed lygus bugs and general predators such as bigeyed bug, minute pirate bug, and damsel bug as well as spiders (Figs. 5-8). Data show that reduced-risk insecticides, Rimon and Beleaf suppressed lygus bug nymphs as well. Sequoia, not yet registered on strawberry, provided a decent lygus bug control. Sivanto initially provided a good suppression of adults and nymphs but could not adequately sustain the control for more than a week. Two rates of Avaunt (unregistered insecticide on strawberry) was included in this experiment and were comparable to other effective insecticides in this experiment.
Insecticide use certainly reduced catface injury on strawberry fruit. Number of fruits with catface injury was lower in all the insecticide treated plants than untreated except the lower rate of Avaunt (Fig. 9). Catface injury on fruits treated with Sequoia was lower than untreated but not different from other insecticides (except lower rate of Avaunt).
Handley, D. T., and J. E. Pollard. 1993. Microscopic examination of tarnished plant bug (Heteroptera: Miridae) feeding damage to strawberry. J. Econ. Entomol. 86: 505-510.
Zalom, F. G., M. P. Bolda, S. K. Dara, and S. Joseph. 2012. Strawberry: Lygus bug. UC Pest Management Guidelines, UC ANR Publication 3468. http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r734300111.html
- Author: Shimat Villanassery Joseph
- Author: Cheryl Reynolds
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) put together a 26-page card set in English and Spanish on understanding pesticide labels. Intended for pesticide handlers, applicators, safety trainers, and pest control advisers (PCAs), the cards explain when to read the label, describe what kind of information can be found in each section of a pesticide label, and point out specific instruction areas so that applicators can apply pesticides safely and avoid illegal pesticide residues.
Traces of pesticide residue are normal and even expected after pesticides are applied to food crops, but by the time produce is ready to be sold, purchased, and consumed, residues are usually far below the legal limit.
In its latest report from 2013, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) reported that there was little or no detectable pesticide residue in 97.8% of all California-grown produce. This demonstrates a strong pesticide regulation program and pesticide applicators that apply pesticides safely and legally. However, there have been instances in California where a pesticide not registered for a specific crop has been used unintentionally, resulting in illegal residues and eventually crop loss and destruction.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets tolerances for the maximum amount of pesticide residue that can legally be allowed to remain on or in food.
DPR regularly monitors domestic and imported produce for pesticide residues and is considered the most extensive state residue-monitoring program in the nation.
The primary way pesticide applicators can assure that they make proper applications and avoid illegal pesticide residues is to follow the pesticide label. UC IPM's new card set was developed from information in the upcoming third edition of The Safe and Effective Use of Pesticides as well as Lisa Blecker, UC IPM's Pesticide Safety Education Program coordinator. Bound with a spiral coil, this eye-catching instructional card set was designed for both English-speakers and when flipped over, for Spanish-speaking audiences as well. UC IPM also plans to release a new online course on preventing illegal pesticide residues sometime late fall.
To download copies of the card set in English or in Spanish, see the UC IPM web site.
- Author: Shimat Villanassery Joseph
Cabbage maggot (Delia radicum) is a serious insect pest of Brassica crops such as broccoli and cauliflower in the Central Coast of California. These crops are grown throughout the year; as a result cabbage maggot problems persist year long.Cabbage maggot eggs are primarily laid in the soil around the crown area of the plant. A single female fly can lay 300 eggs under laboratory conditions. The eggs hatch within 2-3 days and the maggots feed on the taproot for up to three weeks and can destroy the root system of the plant. The maggots pupate in the soil surrounding the root system and emerge into flies within 2-4 weeks. Severe cabbage maggot feeding injury to the roots cause yellowing, stunting even plant death.
Control of cabbage maggot on Brassica crops primarily involves the use of soil applied organophosphate insecticides such as chlorpyrifos and diazinon. However, the persistent use of organophosphate insecticides has resulted in high concentrations of the insecticide residues in the water bodies posing risks to non-target organisms and public health through contaminated water. Currently, use of organophosphate insecticides is strictly regulated by California Department of Pesticide Regulation. There is therefore an urgent need to determine the efficacy of alternate insecticides for cabbage maggot control.
The efficacy of 29 insecticides was determined against cabbage maggot through a laboratory bioassay by exposing field collected maggots to insecticide treated soil immediately after application. Three parameters were used to evaluate efficacy (1) proportion of maggots on the soil surface after 24 h, (2) proportion of change in weight of turnip bait, and (3) dead maggots after 72 h. Based on the assays, 11 insecticides performed better and they were Mustang, Torac, Danitol, Belay, Capture, Warrior II, Lorsban, Mocap, Durivo, Pyganic and Vydate in the order of highest to lowest efficacy. Eight insecticides were selected based on superior efficacy to determine the length of residual activity on cabbage maggot larvae. The persistence of insecticide activity was greater with Capture, Torac and Belay than with other insecticides tested.
The mode of exposure of insecticides in this study was entirely by contact (through skin) and other modes of exposure such as ingestion (through mouth) or through respiratory holes (spiracles) were not investigated. Some of the insecticides tested in the study were insect growth regulators (IGRs) (Dimilin, Rimon, Trigard, and Aza-direct), which normally interfere with the growth and development of the insect and they showed a low efficacy against cabbage maggot larvae. Entrust (spinosad) showed a moderate efficacy possibly because the primary mode of exposure to Entrust is by ingestion. The diamide insecticides (Beleaf, Coragen and Verimark) have systemic activity as they move within the plant and likely away from the site of application. It is possible that the soil applied diamide insecticides are absorbed by the roots and translocated to the above ground plant parts with little effect on the feeding larvae in the tap roots.
This study was conducted under controlled conditions in the laboratory and the results may not be entirely consistent in field conditions. The Brassica fields in the California's Central Coast are profusely sprinkler irrigated up to three weeks after sowing to ensure uniform germination and proper establishment of plants. It is likely that applied insecticides are partially or completely leached out of the root zone area without providing anticipated maggot control. In this study, insecticides were drenched into the cup and none of the applied insecticide solution leached out. Therefore, it is likely that the insecticides were more effective in the laboratory assay than they would be in the field. Certain insecticides such as pyrethroids tend to bind to the soil organic matter. The organic matter in the California's Central Coast soils can be up to 4%, which could reduce the availability of soil applied pyrethroid insecticide to the root zone where cabbage maggot larvae typically colonize. In situations with poor insecticide spray coverage, invading cabbage maggot larvae are possibly exposed to no or sub-lethal doses of the soil applied insecticide and may be able to penetrate the soil and infest the roots. The air temperature in the field at the time of insecticide application may influence the efficacy of the applied insecticide. The efficacy of pyganic decreased as the temperature increased against onion maggot. This suggests that application of pyrethroid insecticides should be avoided during warmer periods of day.
Other field conditions that influence efficacy of insecticides are cabbage maggot incidence and frequency of invading cabbage maggot flies on Brassica crop in the Central Coast of California. The earliest peak of cabbage maggot infestation occur a month after sowing broccoli seeds and infestations can be continuous until harvest. Also, insecticides applied at sowing as a banded spray on the seed lines did not provide adequate cabbage maggot control based on the insecticide efficacy trials conducted in commercial broccoli fields. These findings suggest that delaying the insecticide application by 2-3 weeks after sowing is more likely to maximize maggot control. Because the cabbage maggot infestation can last several weeks, insecticides with extended persistence of efficacy would increase the value for cabbage maggot control. Overall, results show that Capture, Torac and Belay which performed effectively against cabbage maggot for a month after application. This indicates that insecticides used before the first peak of infestation may protect the younger stages of the Brassica plants allowing them to establish and tolerate milder cabbage maggot infestations thereafter.
In conclusion, 11 insecticides with high efficacy were identified for future investigation. Future studies will focus on determining the effects of application timing and delivery methods compatible with cabbage maggot incidence in both directly sown and transplanted Brassica crops in the Central Coast of California.
If you are interested in reading the details of this study, please click the link below to access the published article.
- Author: Shimat Villanassery Joseph
Bagrada bug, Bagrada hilaris (Fig. 1) continues to be a major pest of brassica crops in the Salinas Valley and Hollister causing severe crop losses for both organic and conventional growers alike. Organic growers are struggling because there are very limited options at disposal to suppress the bagrada bug populations in the field. Conventional growers on the other hand are relying heavily on pyrethroid and neonicotinoid insecticides and are going with more number of applications than normal during early stages pf crop development (Cotyledon to four true leaves stage). This tactic (multiple applications) benefit the young seedlings as insecticide residues protect the plants from bagrada bug feeding especially, on the growing point or apical meristematic tissue. Feeding injury to meristematic tissue would cause “blind” head (no head) and multiple shoots on heading brassica crops such as broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage. With couple of insecticide applications at early stages of brassica crop, conventional growers are facing 5-30% loss from bagrada bug feeding injury. Some growers finding noticeably high mortality of cotyledons forcing them to skip thinning operation to maintain a decent crop stand.
Bagrada bug is taking a huge toll on leafy brassica crops such as Chinese cabbage (Pak Choi or Bak Choi), Arugula, Mizuna, Totsoi and Kale. These crops become unmarketable from direct feeding injury on the leaves (Fig. 2). These crops are like “magnets” for bagrada bugs. Bagrada bugs can precisely detect the seeds planted in the soil and most of the seedlings emerge with bagrada bug feeding injury. Sometimes, severe feeding at young stages cause plants die upon emergence (Fig. 3).
Two field trials were conducted in Hollister seeking organic insecticide options for bagrada bug management. The insecticide products chosen were Surround (Kaolin clay), Pyganic, Aza-direct, Entrust and M-pede. Surfact 50 was added when the Pyganic and Aza-direct were used alone. These organically approved insecticides were combined with other insecticides based on certain assumptions. For example, when insecticide Surround is sprayed, it forms a thin particle film on the leaf surface without affecting light transmission or photosynthesis. As bagrada bugs crawl on the Surround treated surface, the particles could stick to their body possibly cause irritation and force them to crawl off from the treated surface. This phenomenon if occurs, it could reduce the incidence of bagrada bug feeding injury. Moreover, it is possible that combining insecticides such as Pyganic and Aza-direct with Surround may increase insecticide exposure as bagrada bugs groom to remove the clay particles stuck on their body using their legs or wings.
The field where the trials were conducted had enormous bagrada bug pressure. Bagrada bugs were everywhere that one would easily kill “thousands of bugs” just by walking over the beds. All stages of bagrada bug were present in the field at the time of insecticide applications. The applications were targeted to protect the plants from feeding injury and not particularly to kill the bugs. The first trial was conducted in Mizuna field and the second trial was conducted in Arugula field. In both the trials, the products were applied four times at three-day interval until harvest between 7 AM and 9 AM. The water volume used was 40 gal per acre. The products were applied using the pneumatic sprayer or back pack sprayer. The details of the products, active ingredients and the rates used for the trials are shown in the Tables 1 and 2. The design of experiments was Completely Randomized Block Design with four replications (Fig. 4). Plant samples were collected twice a week and were evaluated for bagrada bug feeding injury on the true leaves (Fig. 5).
In trial 1, the bagrada bug feeding injury was numerically lower on Mizuna plants that received higher rate of Surround (alone) and Surround combined with Pyganic or Aza-direct than on untreated plants (Fig. 6). When the percentage change in bagrada bug injury on true leaves was calculated (taller the histogram, better the product performance), the plants treated with higher rate of Surround, and Surround combined with Pyganic or Aza-direct had greater reduction of bagrada bug feeding than untreated plants (Fig. 7). In trial 2, none of the treatments showed any indication of suppression when compared with untreated plants (Fig. 8).
Basically, these studies did not provide definite answers to the questions posed or problem but provided some trends. It appears that combining Pyganic or Aza-direct with Surround may have some value rather than applying alone. The Surround rate 20 lb per 40 gal of water is maximum rate for this product. Because Surround could clog the spray tanks, it requires rigorous agitation before application. Also, because Surround easily comes off from the leaf surface with sprinkler irrigation, reapplications are warranted if irrigated at closer intervals especially during the early stages of the crop. The rate of M-pede used in the study was 2% of the water volume. Typically, 2% of M-pede is considered as a high rate and increasing the rate (> 2%) may cause phytotoxicity (burning of leaves).
Then, can we manage bagrada bug?
- Perhaps, we should approach this problem differently. Bagrada bug is a landscape scale pest that they could reproduce and build-up to huge populations if the food is available in plenty, and warm and dry conditions persist. So far, we learned that their population build-up starting late July to December in the Salinas Valley and Hollister. The warmer conditions favor rapid reproduction and several overlapping generations of bagrada bug would develop in short period.
- We observed that their population pressure vary across landscapes and is a serious problem where the control options are limited. For example, bagrada bug problem is less severe when the management is aggressive such as conventional fields where growers have effective products that could suppress or knock down their populations at least in the crops grown. Organic growers on the other hand have limited options to fight bagrada bug and its population rapidly grows into uncontrollable size.
- We also noticed that initially these bugs invade the plants in the edge of the field from the surrounding fields or risk zones (e.g. ditches).
- These facts suggest that this is a landscape level problem rather than a field level problem. Bagrada bug management approach probably should include the management of various kinds of hosts that function as reservoir (e.g. brassica weeds) and aid to sustain their populations (brassica crops).
- Cultural management: Avoid planting brassica crops back-to-back pattern or staggered pattern. This would provide opportunity for bagrada bug to utilize the continuous supply of food to reach uncontrollable population size in short period of time. If somehow, the growers could disrupt the ecology of bagrada bug by not growing brassica crops in succession for a period instead rotate with non-brassica hosts, their population might crash and reach to a controllable levels.
- Weed management: Aggressive weed management especially brassicaceous weeds along with tight cultural management would disrupt the food supply and prevent escalation of population size.
- Bagrada bugs have demonstrated the ability to survive on non-brassica hosts especially solanaceous crops such as tomato, potato or pepper but would rarely reach to the levels we are seeing in brassica fields.
For further reading on bagrada bug please click on the following links (UC IPM pest note or blog articles).
Please contact me (Shimat Joseph) by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 831-229-8985 if you have any questions or comments.