Agricultural Research article.
Spinosad Zaps Crop Pests
By Marcia Wood
April 12, 2000 .
An environmentally friendly
insecticide called spinosad may become the weapon of choice for fighting
insects such as the Mediterranean fruit fly, one of the world's worst
agricultural pests. Medflies can attack more than 200 different kinds of fruits
and vegetables and could adapt easily to life in warm-weather states like
California, Texas and Florida.
Agricultural Research Service
entomologist Roger I. Vargas and colleagues in Hawaii are exploring spinosad's
potential. They are with the agency's
U.S. Pacific Basin
Agricultural Research Center at Hilo.
When applied at recommended rates, spinosad poses less risk than most
insecticides to mammals, birds, fish and beneficial insects. Furthermore,
spinosad is already approved for use on more than 100 crops.
In coffee fields in Hawaii, the ARS scientists compared spinosad to
malathion insecticide and to phloxine B, a dye that is also a promising
alternative to malathion. Though malathion was the most effective, spinosad and
phloxine B gave impressive levels of control.
In addition, an important natural enemy of medfly--a small wasp known as
Fopius arisanus--was significantly less susceptible to spinosad and
phloxine B than to malathion. The reddish-brown and black wasp is harmless to
humans. Spinosad or phloxine B may need to be applied more frequently than
malathion, but the total amount of active ingredient released into the
environment using spinosad or phloxine B would be far less, the research
An article in the current issue of the agency's monthly magazine, Agricultural
Research, tells more.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's main research wing.
Scientific contact: Roger I. Vargas, ARS U.S. Pacific Basin
Agricultural Research Center, Hilo, HI, phone (808) 959-4329, fax (808)