Fruit spotting bug (Amblypelta nitida) (FSB) and banana spotting bug (A. lutescens lutescens) (BSB) are devastating pests of avocados. The two species of pests are virtually indistinguishable and although they have different geographical range, they can be viewed as identical pests. These native species are highly mobile and can cause significant damage even at very low pest density. Individual growers have suffered losses of more than 50% and NSW DPI1 have estimated industry losses of tens of millions of dollars each year from FSB alone.
In the past these pests were often controlled using endosulfan; however, with its withdrawal in 2010, growers have been forced to use broad spectrum chemicals which can cause disruption to beneficial insect populations. Several species of flies, spiders, ants, predatory bugs (eg assassin bugs) and lacewings are natural enemies to FSB and target different parts of the FSB life cycle. Birds and frogs also consume FSB, as well as numerous species of egg parasitoids, who lay their eggs into FSB eggs and consume the developing pest larvae. Management systems that sustain these beneficial insects (integrated pest management – IPM – friendly) help to keep FSB populations at low levels.
Since 2011, Dow AgroSciences has carried out an extensive research program in collaboration with industry and government researchers to develop a ‘softer’ chemistry that is efficacious against FSB in avocados and macadamias crops.
“Transform™, has an excellent IPM profile, being soft to beneficial arthropods, and also has excellent efficacy on a broad range of sap-feeding insect pests, including aphids, plant bugs, scales and mealy bugs” explained Dr Rob Annetts (Dow AgroSciences). “Dow AgroSciences has been trialling Transform on FSB and BSB in various orchards which have confirmed excellent efficacy, making it a perfect fit for IPM programmes.”
“With the introduction of Transform Insecticide, growers will soon have a new tool to effectively control FSB and BSB, whilst preserving key beneficial insects. Data clearly shows that Transform has low impact on Beneficial’s such as: lacewings, spiders and predatory beetles and bugs. In combination with other Dow AgroSciences insecticides, such as Success Neo and Prodigy, growers have for the first time useful tools to seriously implement IPM in avocados and macadamias” ” explained Rob.