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:
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Peter Ellsworth
University of Arizona


  • Agronomic: cotton


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

    Proposal abstract:

    Our proposed project will empower growers to make more sustainable management decisions
    through research assessing efficacy and selectivity of currently registered and experimental
    insecticides and grower education. Our cotton integrated pest management (IPM) program
    integrates selective insecticides with natural enemies to effectively control key pests. However,
    for newly registered and experimental compounds, compatibility with IPM, based on efficacy
    and selectivity to natural enemies, is unknown. Thus, grower’s insecticide decisions are based
    solely on information provided by manufacturers and product costs. Poor decisions may increase
    grower’s costs and disrupt system sustainability.
    In this project, we will develop information about efficacy and effects of currently registered and
    experimental whitefly and Lygus bug insecticides on natural enemies in cotton and investigate
    the effect of plot size. We will educate growers and their pest control advisors about insecticide
    selectivity, the economic and environmental benefits of selective insecticides, and which
    experimental and registered insecticides are compatible with a sustainable cotton IPM program.
    Outreach will include Extension publications and presentations in Cooperative Extension
    meetings, workshops, and hands-on grower involvement. A producer advisory committee will
    provide technical advice throughout the project and participate in outreach learning activities.
    Effective implementation will help growers avoid costly investments in products incompatible
    with IPM, saving them money while better supporting ecosystem services and environmental
    health area-wide. Additional options for chemical rotation in our IPM guidelines will also help
    delay or prevent insecticide resistance. Research on plot size effects, shared in peer-reviewed
    articles and scientific meetings, will improve interpretation of future applied studies on natural
    enemies, increasing the knowledge base for sustainable agriculture.
    This project addresses Western SARE goals by contributing to grower’s profitability and
    improving quality of life through integration of biological and chemical control, while reducing
    health and environmental risks with the use of selective and less toxic insecticides.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our goals are to develop better information about the effect of currently registered and
    experimental whitefly and Lygus bug insecticides on 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 improve scientific
    interpretation of NTO data for mobile insects in future research studies. The objectives are:
    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 the 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.