- Vegetables: greens (lettuces)
- Pest Management: field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, traps
The Asian cockroach, Blattella asahinai, is an exotic invasive species first detected in Florida in 1986. This insect now occurs everywhere in Florida and has become established throughout the Southeastern U.S. Large populations of Asian cockroach build up outdoors and subsequently infest homes, making the Asian cockroach a household pest. Large populations in rural areas can also occur in agricultural fields.
Asian cockroaches observed in and near lettuce fields of the Everglades Agricultural Area of Florida have become an increasing concern for local lettuce producers. Although Asian cockroaches do not feed on lettuce, their presence cannot be tolerated because the presence of insect injury or of insects, dead or alive, can throw lettuce heads out of grade or even lead to rejection of shipments. In addition, cockroaches can be a potential food safety issue because they may come in contact with contaminated habitats before moving into lettuce fields.
Asian cockroach management consists of preventive insecticide applications in lettuce fields with as many as five applications per crop cycle. It also consists of frequent insecticide applications on field surroundings, irrigation equipment, packing equipment and supplies, and portable toilets for farm employees. This management approach is generally preventive and indiscriminate as lettuce harvest approaches. It is expensive, increases potential non-target impacts, and increases the risk of insecticide resistance. Thus, Asian cockroach management is not sustainable.
Trap-assisted scouting, in and around lettuce fields, will answer the need for a refined, more sustainable, management strategy because scouting relying on traps would be consistent regardless of personnel. In addition, trap-assisted scouting would provide continuous sampling of Asian cockroach populations in a specific area, which would be expected to more accurately estimate cockroach populations.
Mexican rice borer pheromone traps can reflect changes in Asian cockroach population dynamics and could be used to monitor Asian cockroach populations. Asian cockroaches live in leaf litter and are attracted to landscaping mulches. Red rubber mulch is attractive to nymph and adult cockroaches. This observation suggests that pan traps with a layer of mulch may be used to monitor Asian cockroach populations.
Project objectives from proposal:
The proposed on-farm research project will have two objectives:
- Compare the performance of traps for sampling Asian cockroaches to select traps that could be used in a trap-assisted scouting program.
- Deploy best performing traps in lettuce fields and adjacent areas to determine the benefits of a trap-assisted scouting program for Asian cockroaches.