Cancellation of Effective Insecticides Puts Carrots at Risk of Rejection by Food Companies

The carrot weevil is native to northeastern North America. Each female can lay 300 eggs. After hatching and entering the carrot, the larvae tunnel through the carrot, filling the tunnels with excreta. The epidermal cells around the tunnels die and become dark brown. The presence of larvae, excreta and feeding damage are of major concern to carrot processors because of strict FDA quality control in processed foods. Processors are unwilling to accept carrots if they find one live larva in a sample or if the carrots have more than 1% damage. Since the 1940s, effective broad spectrum insecticides kept carrot weevil damage to a minimum; however, the most effective insecticides have been cancelled for use in the US.

“Adults [carrot weevils] overwinter in and near carrot fields where carrots were grown the previous year, emerging in late April to early May in New Jersey. The adults feed directly on the leaves and crowns of carrots, and females oviposit from the beginning of May until late June in carrot roots. Larvae tunnel extensively throughout the upper third of the roots, damaging 80% or more of the carrots in untreated processing carrot fields.”

“Consequently, pesticide applications are directed at adult weevils to prevent or reduce oviposition. … However, during the past several years, carrot weevil damage has been increasing in New Jersey carrot farms, and the damage has been as high as 90% loss on farms in Salem County. These losses are partly due to the cancellation of broad-spectrum insecticides, such as parathion, azinphos-methyl, and phosmet during the early 1990s.”

Authors: G.M. Ghidiu¹, E. Hitchner², M. Zimmerman¹ and E. Rossell¹
Affiliations: ¹Rutgers University; ²Virginia Tech
Title: Effect of two different nozzle arrangements on control of carrot weevil, Listronotus oregonensis (LeConte), in processing carrots.
Publication: Plant Health Progress. April 3, 2006.

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