The insect name ‘diamondback moth’ is a familiar one to vegetable growers around the world, and for good reason- this lepidopteran pest causes billions of dollars of crop damage each year. Due to its ability for building up resistance to all classes of insecticides, there may never be one single management solution for this pest. Instead, growers may draw upon a toolkit of several pest management techniques to manage diamondback moth.
Read on to discover four ways to take back your crops from diamondback moth (also detailed in Suterra’s eBook, accessible here).
Commercial vegetable producers that are willing to switch off what crop they grow season-by-season may find that crop rotation is one of the most helpful tools in their toolkit for managing diamondback moth (DBM). DBM only feeds on cruciferous vegetables, such as kale, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. As a result, growers that switch out their crops to non-cruciferous vegetables season-by-season restrict the food availability for DBM, resulting in lower populations of the pest and subsequent lower damage during cruciferous cropping periods.
However, while effective, this strategy may not be an economically feasible part of every grower’s toolkit. Cole crops make up a large portion of commercially grown vegetables and not every grower can or is willing to give up an entire season of crucifer growth.
Trap cropping is another management strategy that is popular with growers. Rather than eliminate the pest, trap crops lure diamondback moth to a plant that is more attractive to them, keeping them in a concentrated area where they can eventually be intercepted.
Growers can invest in several species that diamondback moth will show more interest in than in crucifer crops. Collards and Indian mustard are the most common trap crops for DBM, and can be planted bordering cole crop fields to concentrate the pests.
Conventional insecticide use remains an important part of many growers’ diamondback moth management toolkit. With a highly insecticide-resistant pest such as DBM, though, using insecticides requires an extra level of knowledge about your inputs and how they may interact with the pest.
Diamondback moth has built up resistance to more than 80 active ingredients in insecticides in more than 20 countries. However, this pest’s resistance to certain types of pesticides varies greatly between regions. Understanding what insecticides will and won’t work for your area and limiting use of insecticide sprays in lieu of other management techniques will greatly aid in the prevention of a so-called ‘superpest’.
Mating disruption is a key strategy in your toolkit for managing diamondback moth. This increasingly popular technology uses the insect’s own sex pheromone against it. When the female diamondback moth’s pheromone is ambiently spread throughout a vegetable field, males are unable to find the actual female moths and as such have a greatly lowered rate of reproduction. This results in significantly smaller future flights, meaning that growers will have less damage and higher-quality crops.
Because mating disruption does not kill the moths in question, it can safely be used alongside other integrated pest management techniques and does not harm pollinators. CheckMate® DBM-F, Suterra’s sprayable mating disruption solution for diamondback moth, is the first and only sprayable mating disruption solution for diamondback moth control. It is tank mixable with other common agrochemicals and can be applied flexibly to fields each season depending on pest pressure.
If you have questions about how best to utilize your toolkit to manage diamondback moth, our expert team at Suterra is happy to help. Contact your local field representative or PCA or send us a message online here.