It can be said the need for broad-spectrum insect control is dwindling. Growers and PCAs are dialing down the pest control range of the insecticides they choose to apply in their fields, orchards and vineyards more and more.
Why? It’s become outdated for a number of integrated pest management (IPM) related reasons, including cost, the threat of resistance development and elimination of key beneficials.
When Control is Out of Control
It’s not to say there isn’t a time and place for broad-spectrum activity. To Issa Qandah, technical service manager for FMC in California, everyday use of these tools is impractical, but when an area is being overrun by a pest, a heavy hand may be needed.
“Say we get into a scenario where we have a high population of western flower thrips in lettuce and their numbers are increasing rapidly. In order for growers to reduce that population quickly, they need fast knockdown,” Qandah says. “Broad-spectrum products deliver that result, but at the same time there is a consequence we have to weigh.”
The consequence Qandah is speaking to is the effect on beneficials. Broad-spectrum insecticides will achieve their objective of eliminating the pest, though in their wake, beneficial insects in the same growing environment get caught in the mix. This creates an imbalance in the growing environment between the pest that was targeted and the beneficials that feed on the pest.
“In a way this upsets the balance and generates a cycle of needing to use those broad-spectrum insecticides over and over,” Qandah says. “The reason why: pests do come back and rebalance, but when they rebalance those beneficials are not as strong. When these pests come back, they don’t have any competition or beneficials to feed on them.”
In our world it’s about how can we work with Mother Nature to leverage chemistry that can give growers the benefit of control but have a minimal impact on beneficials. This is a one-two punch that sets us up to be successful and sustainable today and in the future.”
-Issa Qandah, FMC Technical Service Manager
Playing Ahead to Stay Ahead
Simply put, growers and PCAs can never say never as to whether or not a broad-spectrum solution will be needed. But they can take proactive steps throughout the season to greatly reduce the need for the Hail Mary option.
These steps require careful planning and use of a number of the options in the toolbox, including:
- Sticky traps – check traps twice a week when conditions are favorable. Use them to determine how pest populations are evolving and project future population figures. This will help time effective applications rather than relying on the calendar.
- Residuals – use insecticides with a high residual. As pests keep flying into a crop, a higher residual product will keep chipping away at the attackers. A strong residual ranges from 21-28 days compared to a 7-day residual provided by a broad-spectrum insecticide.
- Adjuvants – will enhance the translaminar movement and residual of an insecticide. This gives a crop better coverage and lengthier control.
- Water volume – dial in the right water volume to ensure complete coverage of an insecticide during application. Most solutions are contact material; having the right crop coverage can help target pests better.
- High use rate – when deploying an insecticide, use the full label use rate. This will help maximize the residual and efficacy of a solution.
The other piece of this equation is pest identification. According to Qandah, accurate pest identification in the field is half the battle of achieving pest control.
“By knowing the pest I have in my crop and its biology, I know at what stage it’s vulnerable and how to target it when it’s vulnerable,” Qandah says. “Now, not only can we select the right pesticide, but also the right rate, timing and stage to target the pest.” A misidentification increases the chance of needing a broad-spectrum option.
“If the recommendation is not the right one and an incorrect application has been made, it might take a week to come back and fix it,” Qandah says. “But the pest won’t sit and wait for us to return and re-apply. The pest will build up more in the meantime, so now we need to select a product or tank-mix with a broad-spectrum to get fast knockdown.”
Staying On the Level with Targeted Control
As much as possible, growers and PCAs should adhere to using targeted insect control. Implementing these types of solutions is only viable when proactive steps are taken and stuck to.
Precise chemistries that fit the bill like Cyazypyr® active, indoxacarb and Rynaxypyr® active are examples of solutions with a minimal impact on beneficials but are still effective against target pests. As Qandah puts it, using a specific active ingredient that targets the pest and not the beneficials allows growers to work with Mother Nature to give the upper hand to the beneficials.
“When we talk about IPM, I always think about sustainability,” Qandah notes. “In our world it’s about how can we work with Mother Nature to leverage chemistry that can give growers the benefit of control but have a minimal impact on beneficials. This is a one-two punch that sets us up to be successful and sustainable today and in the future.”
Always read and follow all label directions, precautions and restrictions for use. Some products may not be registered for use in all states. FMC, the FMC logo, Cyazypyr and Rynaxypyr are trademarks of FMC Corporation or an affiliate. ©2022 FMC Corporation. All rights reserved. 22-FMC-3420 04/22