Imagine Biting Into A Pickle and Finding a Worm

Pickle Worms

Pickle Worms

Farmers in Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina grow 250 million pounds of cucumbers each year which are processed into pickles. The most troublesome insect pest on cucumbers in these states is the pickleworm. The pickleworm is a tropical pest and lives year-round in Florida and moves up the coast in the summer. Each female lays about 350 eggs on cucumber and related plants. The pickleworm larvae bore into the cucumbers where they eat out a large cavity which is contaminated with the worm’s excrement. Frequent insecticide sprays are needed to prevent the pickleworm from entering and contaminating pickles.

“A major insect problem, pickleworms follow spring north each year to lay eggs in the 50,000 acres of cucumbers in North and South Carolina. As summer progresses, the insect becomes a problem in states farther north.

The adult pickleworm moths lay eggs in the fields. Larvae hatch and eat their way into young cucumbers.

Growers start spraying their fields with potent pesticides almost every week for the moths’ 6- to 7-week season as soon as the nighttime temperature reaches 60°F—the temperature the moths follow north.

Why the worm witch hunt? It’s because pickle packers will refuse to accept a truckload of cucumbers if they notice even one with a pickleworm hole. (Understandably enough—imagine biting into a pickle and finding…)”

Author: Kaplan, K.
Affiliation: ARS.
Title: Less Pickleworm Pesticide.
Source: Agricultural Research. 1989. June.

New Insecticides Greatly Improve Grape Insect Management


The grape berry moth is an annual problem on about 50% of the grape acres around the Great Lakes in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Females glue their eggs on the berries and larvae hatch out and feed in the berries. Insecticides have been used for 100 years to control the grape berry moth and reduce the infestation from 24-30% to less than 1%. Until recently, broad-spectrum insecticides with long residuals were used to manage grape berry moth. However, new insecticides have been registered and they provide tremendous opportunities to selectively manage insect pests in grape vineyards.

“The past 10 years has seen a dramatic change in the spectrum of insecticides available for grape producers, with new modes of action and pest spectra allowing an unparalleled opportunity for growers to target specific pests for control while also minimizing the risk to non-target organisms.

There is now increased potential for realizing integrated control, since many of the most effective new insecticides have been evaluated and shown to have relatively low impact on natural enemies. For example, registration of the insect growth regulator insecticides methoxyfenozide and diflubenzuron for use in vineyards and the recent availability of the diamide insecticdes rynaxapyr and flubendiamide allow more selective and long-lasting control of lepidopteran pests without high levels of natural enemy mortality.

Acaricides have also changed from broad-spectrum to more selective chemistries. The vineyard manager now has an array of different acaricide modes of action available, many of which can selectively kill pest mites without injuring predatory species. Some of these are also systemic, thereby providing a route of exposure that further protects predators from direct contact with the acaricide.”

Authors: Isaacs, R., et al.
Affiliation: Department of Entomology, Michigan State University
Title: Vineyard IPM in a changing world: adapting to new pests, tactics, and challenges.
Source: Anthropod Management in Vineyards: Pests, Approaches, and Future Directions. 2012. Springer. Pgs. 475-480.

Control of Cherry Maggots Has Become Very Difficult in the E.U.

Churry Maggots

Cherry Maggots

Adult cherry maggot flies deposit eggs under the skin of the fruit and the hatched maggots feed inside the berry. There is zero tolerance for maggot-infested cherries in the marketplace and insecticides have been used for over 100 years. However, in the E.U. with increased restrictions on insecticides and lack of newly-registered products, control of cherry maggots has become problematic.

“The European cherry fruit fly, Rhagoletis cerasi L. (Diptera: Tephritidae) is the major insect pest of sweet and tart cherries throughout Europe, infesting up to 90% of fruit in untreated sites. A great need has arisen for effective control techniques because of an almost zero tolerance of infested fruit in the fresh market, notwithstanding an agreed economic threshold of 2% infestation. Cherry fruit fly control in the European Union (EU) has recently become very difficult as a result of programmes to reduce the use of broad-spectrum insecticides, for reasons of environmental and human safety. Such withdrawals of insecticides have occurred in the absence of identified alternatives for R. cerasi. In Germany, its management is currently achieved by the application of systemic insecticides (e.g. acetamiprid, dimethoate), authorized by special permits and, for dimethoate, with many restrictions on use.”

Authors: Bockmann, E., et al.
Affiliation: Institute for Plant Protection in Fruit Crops and Viticulture, Germany.
Title: Bait spray for control of European cherry fruit fly: an appraisal based on semi-field and field studies.
Source: Pest Management Science. 2014. 70:502-509.

They’re Back: Cabbage Maggots Reappear Following Insecticide Restrictions

Cabbage maggots

Cabbage maggots

Damage from Cabbage Maggot

Damage from Cabbage Maggot

Cabbage maggots feed on the roots of cole crops (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts). The maggots destroy the roots and the plants wilt. Cabbage maggots were effectively controlled for several decades by applications of organophosphate insecticides. However, recent restrictions on the use of organophosphates have resulted in less effective control and reappearance of cabbage maggots as a severe pest of California cole crops.

“Cabbage maggot is one of the most destructive pests of cruciferous crops in North America and Europe and has become the major persistent pest of cruciferous crops in the central coast of California. The value of cruciferous crops is estimated at 1 billion USD in California. In the Salinas Valley of California, cruciferous crops are grown in more than 34,398 ha and are valued at >$485.5 million USD. The majority of this acreage has been affected by cabbage maggot. Important crops that are at-risk from cabbage maggot include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli raab, and Brussels sprouts.

Cabbage maggot flies lay eggs in the soil around the base of the plant. A single female can lay about 300 eggs under laboratory conditions. Legless, 8-mm long white-maggots feed on the taproot and affect normal plant development. The most common above-ground feeding symptoms of cabbage maggot are yellowing, stunting and slow growth.

Since 2008, regulatory agencies in the state have enforced stringent restrictions to curb the use of organophosphate insecticides in commercial Brassica crop production, leaving growers with limited options to combat cabbage maggot infestation. Because of the fewer effective IPM options, widespread crop losses to cabbage maggot have been reported from 2008 to the present.”

Authors: Joseph, S. V., and J. Martinez.
Affiliation: University of California Cooperative Extension.
Title: Incidence of cabbage maggot (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) infestation and plant damage in seeded Brassica fields in California’s central coast.
Source: Crop Protection. 2014. 62:72-78.

Increased Insecticide Use Protects Onions from Viral Infections


Onions infected with iris yellow spot virus

Iris Yellow Spot Virus (IYSV) was first discovered in the 1989 infecting onions in the Treasure Valley of Idaho and Oregon. IYSV typically does not kill plants; however the virus reduces plant vigor and bulb size. Once plants are infected with IYSV, there is no cure. The virus is transmitted to onions by the feeding of an insect: onion thrips. The disease spreads rapidly in fields with large numbers of thrips. Losses up to 100% have been reported. Onion thrips populations are reduced by the application of insecticides in onion fields thus preventing transmission of the disease to onion plants.

Iris yellow spot virus pressure in this region has not been nearly as bad as it was last year, when it wiped out some onion fields. “The virus seems to have been held off well this year,” said Paul Skeen, who farms near Nyssa, Ore. Farmers in the Treasure Valley area of southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon produce about 25 percent of the nation’s bulb onions and the virus is one of their main production challenges. It weakens the plant and reduces onion production. It can substantially reduce onion bulb size, which is important because larger onions fetch a higher price. The disease is spread to onions by thrips, and Skeen said many growers in the area started spraying for thrips earlier this season and they sprayed more often. Skeen started spraying 10 days earlier and sprayed every seven to 10 days as opposed to every 14-20 as he has done in past seasons. “I’ve got a good crop coming because I stayed on top of it. I think everybody’s been doing that,” he said.

While onion growers in the Treasure Valley area typically start their thrip spraying programs around Memorial Day, many started in early May this year, said Stuart Reitz, an OSU cropping systems extension agent in Malheur County. While onion growers in this area normally make about six applications for thrips in a season, many have made eight or nine already this year and a few are up to 10, he said. “That helped keep the thrips population down,” Reitz said.

Author: Ellis, S.
Affiliation: Reporter.
Title: Onion virus pressure not as severe as last year.
Source: Capital Press. August 8, 2014.

Without Herbicides, Cranberry Beds Would Be Overwhelmed by Weeds and Growers Would Go Out of Business

Treated vs Untreated

Herbicide Treated (L) vs Untreated (R)

71 - graph

The leaves of the cranberry plant form a dense mat over the surface. There are no paths through a cranberry bog. Weeds are particularly troublesome in cranberry bogs, since mechanical equipment (such as cultivators) cannot be used. The first synthetic chemical herbicide to receive widespread use in cranberries was registered in 1965 followed by two more in the 1970s. The use of these three herbicides is credited as the most important factor in the doubling of cranberry yields from 1960-1978. The introduction of glyphosate is credited with a steep increase in cranberry yields in the early 1980s.

“Without chemical pesticides fruit quality would be drastically reduced and it would be virtually impossible to economically produce a cranberry crop.

Without some selected herbicides or any herbicide, up to half of the growers would eventually go out of business because it would no longer be profitable to farm when their beds become overwhelmed by weeds in 5 to 10 years.

Without insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides, fruit quality would be drastically reduced. It would be virtually impossible to economically produce a cranberry crop. Ultimately, many growers would go out of business.”

Authors: Mahr, S. E. and Moffitt, L. J.
Affiliation: University of Wisconsin and University of Massachusetts.
Title: Biologic & Economic Assessment of Pesticide Usage on Cranberry.
Source: NAPIAP Report Number 2-CA-94-1994.

No Kiwifruit Exports from New Zealand Without Insecticide Sprays

Leafroller Damage to Kiwifruit

Leafroller Damage to Kiwifruit

New Zealand accounts for 33% of the world’s trade in kiwifruit, exporting about US$450 million annually. Kiwifruit production in New Zealand is entirely oriented toward the export market. The domestic market is small and is flooded with fruit that do not meet export standards. In the early days when it was only a minor crop , no sprays were applied. Today, presence of insects, scales, or insect damage can cause rejection of an orchard’s entire crop.

“In the early days of growing kiwifruit in New Zealand it was considered a crop that didn’t need spraying. The very small amount of fruit produced was sold on the New Zealand market without any major problems due to pests or diseases. Predictably as the area planted increased, and more fruit was submitted to the scrutiny of export inspection, more pest and disease problems were encountered and more sophisticated methods of control were required… Kiwifruit are readily attacked by leaf roller caterpillars, and as plantings developed it became apparent control measures were necessary, especially for export fruit.

There are still a few small growers who never spray at all, but their fruit is seriously damaged by leaf roller caterpillars, and there is no chance of such growers being able to export kiwifruit as fresh fruit.

As exports developed in the late 1960s greedy scale was noticed in significant numbers on the fruit and became a problem in meeting international quarantine standards. Greedy scale was not a debilitating pest to the crop, nor was it a problem to local market fruit, but for export fruit it had to be controlled along with the ever present leaf roller.”


Author: Sale, P.R.
Affiliation: Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Tauranga.
Title: The history of pest and disease control in kiwifruit.
Source: Proc. 33rd N.Z. Weed and Pest Control Conf. 1980. Pgs. 110-113.

Desert Locust Plagues Managed with Insecticides


Spraying for locusts


Locust swarm

Since prehistoric times, plagues of desert locusts (a large grasshopper that swarms) have threatened food production in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The swarms may cover several hundred square kilometers and contain 50 million locusts per square kilometer. A square kilometer of locusts can consume about 100 tons of crops per day. Regular monitoring of locust breeding areas and targeted insecticide sprays as populations increase prevent plagues most years. However, monitoring locust breeding areas can be difficult as many are located in remote areas or are in areas inaccessible due to border disputes and lack of security. When major outbreaks occur, widespread insecticide spraying is necessary.

“When locust upsurges and plagues develop, large scale control campaigns must be mounted on an emergency basis. These campaigns are expensive, use large quantities of insecticide and involve external assistance. During the last plague of 1986-89, some 40 countries were affected and more than 14 million hectares were treated. The total amount of assistance provide by the international community during the plague was about US$ 250 million. The total amount of assistance provided by the international community  during the last major upsurge from 2003-2005 was about 400 million US Dollars where about 13 million litres of pesticides were used to treat 13 million hectare in 11 countries.

Ground and aerial application of chemical pesticides is the only viable method of locust control at present.”

Authors: FAO
Title: Workshop on Spray Equipment Used in Desert Locust Control, 10-14, May. 2009.

Organic Berry Production in Europe is at a Dead End

Damage from Raspberry Beetle

Damage from Raspberry Beetle

The growing of organic strawberries and raspberries in Europe has not expanded in the past decade. There is organic production in most countries, but it is on a very small scale. Organic berry production in Europe is likely to remain a niche market largely due to lack of control of very damaging insect pests.

“Many European growers of organic strawberry and raspberry have large losses in yield (sometimes >80%) and reduced quality of their products because of insect damage. Among the major threats are the strawberry blossom weevil, the European tarnished plant bug and the raspberry beetle. In organic soft fruit production there are no effective control measures for these pest insects.”

Authors: Wibe, A., et al.
Affiliations: Bioforsk Organic Food and Farming, Norway.
Title: Management of strawberry blossom weevil and European tarnished plant bug in organic strawberry and raspberry using semiochemical traps – “Softpest Multitrap”
Source: NJF Report. 2013. 9[8]:31.

Labor Shortages on Indian Tea Plantations Result in Need for Herbicides

Scraping Weeds In Tea Fields

Scraping Weeds In Tea Fields

Historically, the most common method of weed control on tea plantations in India was to manually scrape the weeds off the surface of the soil. However, this is a labor-intensive method and needs to be repeated at regular intervals. The paucity of labor in the tea gardens of south India has made weeding a difficult exercise. Presently, tea growers rely heavily on herbicides to control weeds due to labor shortages for manual weeding.

“Grassy weeds reduce the productivity of tea by 21 per cent, while broad-leaved weeds accounts for 9-12 per cent. Weeds remove substantial amount of nutrients and moisture from the soil besides increasing the incidence of pests and diseases in crop by serving as alternate host.

Herbicides, as a tool for controlling weeds in tea plantations is very much popular and have been widely used ever since their introduction – primarily due to their cost effectiveness, efficiency in controlling diverse weed flora and less labour intensiveness, etc. Tea plantations alone use about 20 per cent of the total quantity of herbicides used in India.

Mechanical and manual control of weed are costly, time consuming, laborious and sometimes injurious to feeder roots of young tea plants in comparison to herbicidal control of weeds. Such methods are also limited by non-availability of labours in peak season.These methods require about 75 man days/ha annually for young tea and 35 man days for mature tea while, 15 man days/ha for young tea and 8 man days for mature tea in the first year are required for herbicidal control of weeds excluding the cost of herbicides.

At present, herbicides worth over Rs.7 crores are being used by tea industry of North East. India alone is expected to increase further in view of acute shortage of labours in time and escalating wages of labour.”

Authors: Rajkhowa, D. J., et al.
Affiliation: National Research Centre for Weed Science.
Title: Weed management in tea.
Source: NRC for Weed Science, Jabalpur.2005. Pgs. 3-13.