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Products Control Mexican Corn Rootworms in Texas

By Linda McGraw
June 15, 2000

Some Texas farmers can say “adios” to Mexican corn rootworms damaging field corn, provided they use a commercial product named Slam, which succeeded in field tests conducted by Agricultural Research Service scientists.

Almost every acre of Texas-grown corn is treated with soil insecticides at planting to control rootworm larvae. But these soil treatments are costly, environmentally risky, and ineffective for breaking the Mexican corn rootworm cycle, according to ARS agricultural engineer Clint Hoffmann in College Station, Texas.

Working closely with farmers, extension personnel, and industry, ARS scientists developed an adult rootworm control program using aerial applications of Slam, made by MicroFlo, Inc., in Lakeland, Fla. The payoff: the number of acres infested with economically damaging populations of rootworms in the test area was cut from 2,000 acres to only 80 acres in just 2 years.

By targeting the adults, the researchers reduced total use of soil insecticides from 6 to 3 pounds per acre in the test area. This savings represents a win-win situation for the economy and the environment. Slam uses only 1 ounce of toxicant per acre versus 3 pounds per acre for conventional insecticides used for adult control. Once the beetles were reduced below economic threshold levels, the use of soil insecticides was cut in half.

While Slam was used in this field test, two more products are nearing the market. One is CideTrak, made by Trécé Inc. in Salinas, California, which is used along with a monitoring trap also made by Trécé. The third product is named Invite, made by FFP Agriscience, Inc., in Eustis, Fla. All three products combine a feeding stimulant with a low dose of insecticide.

ARS is the chief scientific research agency for the USDA.

Scientific contact: Clint Hoffmann, ARS Areawide Pest Management Research, Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center, College Station, Texas; phone (409) 260-9521, fax (409) 260-9386,