The diamondback moth presents a significant challenge for American producers of cruciferous plants. It is uniquely adept at developing resistance to traditional insecticides, can breed continuously in the warmer regions of the southern United States, and can produce up fifteen generations in a year depending on location. This billion-dollar problem has no single simple solution. Instead, a holistic Integrated Pest Management program is the best approach for tackling this prolific pest.
Suterra details some best practices for combatting diamondback moth in Take Back Your Crop, our complimentary eBook in collaboration with The American Vegetable Grower Magazine. The eBook can be accessed here.
The diamondback moth may look like an innocuous little brown moth to the untrained eye. However, vegetable farmers have long known this insect to be a threat to crops worldwide. Diamondback moth larvae target plants in the family Brassicaceae, which is a broad group including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale, among others. They are also extremely rapid reproducers, capable of laying 300 eggs per female and producing up to 15 generations per year.
Most concerning to growers is its ability to rapidly develop resistance to insecticides. Diamondback moths are especially proficient at this, with documented resistance to most conventional classes of insecticides, some microbials, and even newer compounds. They are dispersive, can breed continuously in warm climates in the United States, and their natural biological control agents are heavily impacted by insecticides used to control the pest. These are just some of the factors making them a serious threat to growers.
Diamondback moths are one of the most destructive pests worldwide. Recent data indicates that management inputs and crop losses caused by diamondback moth annually amount to an estimated five billion dollars globally and 200 million dollars in the United States alone. Growers are increasingly looking for improved ways to manage this pest without further contributing to insecticide resistance.
The eBook describes an integrated pest management strategy that works to minimize damage caused by diamondback moth through a holistic approach. The book incorporates several curated articles from The American Vegetable Grower Magazine as well as original content produced by Suterra.
To start, Bonnie C. Wells, Doctor of Plant Medicine and University of Florida Commercial Horticultural Extension Agent, describes several complementary methods that can contribute to a successful diamondback moth IPM program. These include crop rotation, trap cropping, and insecticide resistance awareness.
The eBook also highlights mating disruption as a particularly effective option for population management and damage reduction and one that can help mitigate insecticide resistance issues. The benefits of Suterra’s CheckMate® DBM-F are summarized by Suterra Technical Field Manager Greg Montez.
“CheckMate® DBM-F directly impacts the ability of a pest population to increase. It is also an important means of keeping the management tools that are currently available from creating resistance issues. As a pheromone-based mating disruption tool, CheckMate® helps to do that in an environmentally sound manner,” says Montez.
Effectively managing such a devastating pest, without overreliance on insecticides, can seem like a daunting task but one that is necessary for long-term success in cruciferous crop production. Growers can effectively reduce diamondback moth populations and the damage they cause when adopting an integrated approach to pest management.