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Vegetable IPM Updates Archive
Cooperative Extension
Pest Status and Economic Losses to Insects in Desert Lettuce: A 12-year Summary (July 6, 2016)
For the past 12 years, the UA Vegetable IPM Team has annually surveyed PCAs and growers to document insect pest activity, economic costs of insect management and insecticide usage in Arizona lettuce through interactive workshops held each April. The information collected during these workshops can be very useful to the lettuce industry by providing “real world" information on insect pest status and insecticides usage that can be used for addressing state and federal regulatory issues, prioritize research and educational activities, and translate the PCA’s activities into economic terms for their growers. In a recent VegIPM update (Jun 8), we discussed interesting trends in insecticide usage on desert lettuce based on the results of these workshops that can be found at Insecticide Usage on Desert Lettuce. Just recently we summarized the remaining data collected in the workshop surveys. Summarized over the past twelve-years (2004-2016), the survey data provides “real world” information on the pest status of key insect species, economics of insect management, and estimates of yield losses in lettuce. A quick analysis of the summary clearly indicates that insect management in desert lettuce is very intensive, can be expensive and is generally effective. Specifically, surveys completed by PCAs represented a large proportion of the lettuce acres grown in the Yuma, and neighboring Bard/Winterhaven growing areas. Not surprising, the surveys showed that annually 100% of the acres are scouted for desert lettuce pests and lettuce fields are visited >4 times per week. In terms of pest status, the Lepidoptera larvae complex (beet armyworm/ cabbage looper/corn earworm), western flower thrips, aphids and seedling, soil pests represent the most economically important insects attacking desert lettuce crops based on the % of treated acres, numbers of spray applications, and yield losses associated with each pest. In terms of yield losses, average estimated loss from any one pest never exceeded 1% in either fall or spring lettuce. Given the heavy insect pressure we experience each season, PCAs and growers should be commended on their capability of maintaining insect losses to such low levels over a 12-year period. However, it is important to note that this was accomplished in part, by the considerable expense and time invested by PCAs in scouting for these pests, and certainly by the significant investment in insecticide spray and application costs used each season to prevent these key pests from causing economic damage to lettuce crops. Bottom line: IPM in desert lettuce crops is effective, but at a cost. For a copy of the complete, summarized report go to: Insect Losses and Management on Desert Lettuce: 2004-2016.


Name this Insect Pest. - Salt Marsh Caterpillar Moth

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