Empowering producers to effectively integrate chemical and biological controls through research and outreach on selective chemistries and impacts on natural enemies.

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2018: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2019
Grant Recipient: University of Arizona
Region: Western
State: Arizona
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Isadora Bordini
University of Arizona


  • Agronomic: cotton


  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension
  • Pest Management: biological control, chemical control


    Our project is empowering growers to make more sustainable management decisions through research on the effects of currently registered and experimental whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, and Lygus bug insecticides on natural enemies, and investigating the effect of plot size in this type of study—plots that are too small fail to accurately measure effects because insects move too freely between plots; plots that are too large become too expensive to run or too variable in other factors across a field. We conducted a non-target organism trial in cotton in Arizona, and we examined selectivity of recently registered insecticides and effects of plot size on population dynamics and predation rates of whitefly natural enemies in cotton. We sampled pests and natural enemies using established methods, and examined predation rates. Our observations to date have indicated that some of the insecticides tested appear to be very selective towards our key natural enemies in cotton, and other insecticides seem to be harmful to some of them. We have been teaching producers about the role of our key natural enemies, the benefits of choosing selective insecticides and conservational biological control, the research methods that support this project, and our preliminary results on the selectivity of the candidate insecticides. Once our data analyses are finalized, we will determine which compounds are compatible with our sustainable IPM plan, and will revise our insect management guidelines. Surveys conducted at producers’ meetings have indicated that PCAs and growers recognize the value of natural enemies and that biological control affects their decisions of opting for selective insecticides.

    Project objectives:

    Our goals were to develop better information about the effect of currently registered and

    experimental whitefly, Bemisia tabaciMiddle East-Asia Minor 1 (MEAM1), and Lygus bug, Lygus hesperus,insecticides on non-target organisms (NTOs), i.e., natural enemies, and to investigate the effect of plot size on the biocontrol function and density of natural enemies in NTO studies. We expect that the data from this project will assist cotton growers in selecting

    insecticides that minimize disruption of natural enemies and will also improve scientific

    interpretation of NTO data for mobile insects in future research studies. The objectives were:


    1) To test the selectivity and efficacy of currently registered and experimental

    insecticides towards natural enemies of whitefly (and other pests) in cotton.

    2) To investigate the effects of plot size on population dynamics and biocontrol function

    in non-target organism studies.

    3) To enhance growers’ knowledge of insecticide selectivity, and teach them about the

    selectivity of candidate insecticides while promoting the benefits of using selective

    insecticides for a sustainable cotton production through our Educational Outreach Plan.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.