Novel insecticides and generalist predators support conservation biological control in cotton

Isadora Bordini, Peter C. Ellsworth, Steven E. Naranjo, Alfred Fournier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Arizona has a successful integrated pest management plan for arthropod pests of cotton including two key pests, Bemisia argentifolii (=B. tabaci MEAM1) and Lygus hesperus. Central to this plan is conservation of natural enemies through threshold-based use of effective and selective insecticides. Field studies were designed to test the selectivity of the insecticides cyantraniliprole, flupyradifurone, pyrifluquinazon and sulfoxaflor on the cotton arthropod community (27 taxa measured), which includes the key generalist predator taxa: Collops spp., Orius tristicolor, Geocoris spp., Misumenops celer, Drapetis nr. divergens and Chrysoperla carnea s.l. Compared with an untreated check and in contrast to acephate-treated positive controls, predator densities were rarely affected, and the overall arthropod predator community was conserved by all insecticides. Occasional significant reductions in predator abundances were likely associated with lower prey availability after insecticide sprays rather than direct toxic effects. The proportions of time that predator to prey ratios were at or above levels indicative of functioning biological control were either significantly higher or not significantly different from the untreated check for these insecticides. The cotton food web populated by generalist predators is resilient and flexible enough to accommodate temporary reductions in abundance of some species, periods of low prey densities, or other constraints on individual predator species function. Our study demonstrates that the insecticides tested are selective and compatible with sustainable pest management in the Arizona cotton system, representing new options for insect pest control that conserve natural enemies and support biological control through generally favorable changes to predator to prey ratios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104502
JournalBiological Control
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Arthropod predators
  • Bemisia argentifolii
  • Bemisia tabaci MEAM1
  • Non-target effects
  • Predator-to-prey ratios
  • Selective insecticides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science


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