- 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.
The use of traps to assist scouting is expected to contribute to 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 for management.
This 2-year project compared different trap types for sampling of Asian cockroaches on a lettuce farm. Lo-Line sticky traps baited with blattellaquinone performed best, and these traps can be used to compare relative levels of cockroach populations among particular locations on a farm. For example, observations suggest that sugarcane fields bordered by weedy habitats are a greater source of Asian cockroaches infesting lettuce than sod fields. Thus, Lo-Line traps baited with blattellaquinone are tools that can be used to refine Asian cockroach management. However, the relationship between visual observations in lettuce fields and trap captures is unknown. In addition, trap capture efficiency might be low, cost might be an issue, and blatellaquinone lures are not available commercially.
The on-farm research project had 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 to detect changes Asian cockroach infestation levels and determine the influence of adjacent areas toward a trap-assisted scouting program.