New frontier to protect peppers against European corn borer

Ostrinia nubilalis represents one of the main phytophagous insect for peppers grown in protected cultivation. Biogard recommends using the mating disruption system, especially in northern and central Italy where the insect is more widespread.



The larvae of the European corn borer grow on both plants and fruits. In the first case, they lead to a quick decline of plants while, on the fruits, they compromise commercial value and can lead to rotting. Anyway, it is a dangerous enemy producers need to pay particular attention to.

Summer generation responsible for damage to peppers
Crop defence is mainly based on prevention: anti-insect nets with holes big enough to guarantee ventilation must be placed on greenhouse openings. The objective is to prevent adult insects from reaching the crop. The net installation period can be calculated using specific pheromone traps.



In case of integrated control, direct defence can be carried out via pesticide treatments using the products listed in Production specifications. 1 or 2 treatment must be performed according to the infestation level and flight duration. In case of attacks underway, good results can be obtained with new generation microbiological formulas containing Bacillus thuringiensis spp kurstaki. Weekly treatments must focus on newborn larvae or, even better, on the eggs. 

Mating disruption available as of this year
It basically uses the adult communication system, which is based on pheromones, i.e. chemical substances released by females to attract males for mating.



Pheromones of the species that needs to be controlled are released in the environment so as to compromise communication and impede or delay mating. This results in fewer eggs and therefore fewer larvae.

This method does not represent an alternative to traditional defence strategies, but can be the basis to set up integrated control plants according to the needs of single businesses.

In case of low borer populations, it can guarantee good control levels without the need for other interventions.



Mating disruption is generated using a diffuser that releases the pheromone, chemically similar to the natural version. The product is made up of two parallel microcapillaries in plastic polymer filled with the specific pheromone and sealed. The central opening makes it possible to apply it to various supports rather easily.

A single application covers the entire flight activity for pepper crops. The double-tube design enables excellent release levels and quick and easy applications. Diffusers must be uniformly distributed inside the greenhouse respecting recommended dosage.

The factors that regulate the release are of physico-chemical nature and depend on the intrinsic characteristic of the polymer and on the thickness of capillary walls, average temperatures and air movement within the greenhouse.



The capillary structure means the diffuser remains impregnated with active substances even when its content is reduced during the season. The total surface does not vary during the exposure period and permeation remains constant as well.

Diffusers must be installed on frames or supporting wires before the wintering generation starts flying, calculating the exact period according to the data collected by monitoring traps or to phytosanitary practices. Distribution must be as uniform as possible, with a stronger dosage at the edge of the greenhouse and near entrances. Anti-insect nets are important as they prevent inseminated females from entering the greenhouse.

Plants and fruits must be constantly monitored to intervene promptly with supporting treatments in case of critical conditions or abnormal levels. The dosage is 600-800 diffusers/ha (60-80 diffusers/1000 sw m) during the period the pheromone is released (120-140 days).



Mating disruption must be combined with other prevention techniques such as:
- anti-insect nets to prevent inseminated females from entering greenhouses; destroying vegetable material residues near greenhouses; employing crop rotations that are as apart as possible for crops susceptible to European corn borer attacks (peppers, green beans, aubergines).

Using mating disruption has many advantages: it's effective, compatible with bumblebees and organic cultivation techniques, it has no maximum residue limit, shortage period or re-entry interval and it can be combined with both organic and chemical control techniques.

Contacts
Area tecnica Biogard
Via Calcinaro 2085/int.7
47522 Cesena (FC)
Tel.: (+39) 0547 630336
Email: mbenuzzi@cbceurope.it
Web: www.biogard.it

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