a1 Plant Science, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Locked Mail Bag 1, Biloela, Queensland 4715, Australia
Helicoverpa spp. and mirids, Creontiades spp., have been difficult to control biologically in cotton due to their unpredictable temporal abundance combined with a cropping environment often made hostile by frequent usage of broad spectrum insecticides. To address this problem, a range of new generation insecticides registered for use in cotton were tested for compatibility with the assassin bug, Pristhesancus plagipennis (Walker), a potential biological control agent for Helicoverpa spp. and Creontiades spp. Indoxacarb, pyriproxifen, buprofezin, spinosad and fipronil were found to be of low to moderate toxicity on P. plagipennis whilst emamectin benzoate, abamectin, diafenthiuron, imidacloprid and omethaote were moderate to highly toxic. Inundative releases of P. plagipennis integrated with insecticides identified as being of low toxicity were then tested and compared with treatments of P. plagipennis and the compatible insecticides used alone, conventionally sprayed usage practice and an untreated control during two field experiments in cotton. The biological control provided by P. plagipennis nymphs when combined with compatible insecticides provided significant (P<0.001) reductions in Helicoverpa and Creontiades spp. on cotton and provided equivalent yields to conventionally sprayed cotton with half of the synthetic insecticide input. Despite this, the utilization of P. plagipennis in cotton as part of an integrated pest management programme remains unlikely due to high inundative release costs relative to other control technologies such as insecticides and transgenic (Bt) cotton varieties.
(Accepted November 13 2006)