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J Econ Entomol. 2003 Feb;96(1):71-80.

Bt sweet corn and selective insecticides: impacts on pests and predators.

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Department of Entomology, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, New York 14456, USA.


Sweet corn, Zea mays L., is attacked by a variety of insect pests that can cause severe losses to the producer. Current control practices are largely limited to the application of broad-spectrum insecticides that can have a substantial and deleterious impact on the natural enemy complex. Predators have been shown to provide partial control of sweet corn pests when not killed by broad-spectrum insecticides. New products that specifically target the pest species, while being relatively benign to other insects, could provide more integrated control. In field trials we found that transgenic Bt sweet corn, and the foliar insecticides indoxacarb and spinosad are all less toxic to the most abundant predators in sweet corn (Coleomegilla maculate [DeGeer], Harmonia axyridis [Pallas], and Orius insidiosus [Sav]) than the pyrethroid lambda cyhalothrin. Indoxacarb, however, was moderately toxic to coccinellids and spinosad and indoxacarb were somewhat toxic to O. insidiosus nymphs at field rates. Bt sweet corn and spinosad were able to provide control of the lepidopteran pests better than or equal to lambda cyhalothrin. The choice of insecticide material made a significant impact on survival of the pests and predators, while the frequency of application mainly affected the pests and the rate applied had little effect on either pests or predators. These results demonstrate that some of the new products available in sweet corn allow a truly integrated biological and chemical pest control program in sweet corn, making future advances in conservation, augmentation and classical biological control more feasible.

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