Prevent pest problems

Increasing Profits - Pest Management

Learn how insect growth regulators can prevent the next generation of problem pests from Central Life Sciences’ Doug Vangundy.

August 24, 2022

Photo courtesy of Central Life Sciences

Greenhouse Management: What is an insect growth regulator?

Doug Vangundy: IGRs are unique and different molecules for use in pest control. They’re not a conventional insecticide where you spray the material and it kills insects. These disrupt the life cycle of the insect. They don’t provide an immediate kill, but they prevent the next generation of pests from infesting your plant material.

GM: How does Enstar® AQ work as an IGR?

DV: It mimics natural biochemicals within the insect. It interferes with normal development processes as far as when pupation occurs. You have two types of growth in insects. You have insects that pupate, like whiteflies, then insects that have a gradual metamorphosis and go from the immature stage to the adult stage. In insects that pupate, Enstar® AQ interferes with the normal pupation so the insect will go from molt to pupae stage, but that’s as far as it goes. It will not emerge as an adult. In the case of an aphid, they will move through the adult stage, but they will become sterile or in some cases die in that molt from the nymphs into the adult stage.

GM: What other insects does Enstar AQ work well on?

DV: It’s a fairly broad-spectrum IGR. It will affect thrips and fungus gnats. When applied to the soil, it interrupts the life cycle of the larvae as they develop in the soil, thereby preventing the adults from emerging and causing a problem. Fungus gnats are primarily a nuisance pest, but in large numbers they can certainly be a nuisance.

Enstar AQ is particularly effective on whiteflies in poinsettia production. When the plants start to bract, whiteflies attack the bracts and the damage reduces the plants’ value. Using Enstar AQ as a preventative approach for whiteflies and poinsettias is a good choice.

GM: How can growers apply Enstar AQ?

DV: You can apply Enstar AQ by itself, diluted in water and applied through a power sprayer or compressed air sprayer, or backpack blower. Whiteflies and some other pests are often on the underneath side of the plants and stems, so apply toward those areas where the pests are primarily attacking the plant.

Enstar AQ is also labeled for a tank mix. It can be mixed with Mavrik Aquaflow® or your insecticide of choice. Just follow the use directions on both packages. The more stringent label will apply when making a tank mix.

GM: How do you prevent insects from developing resistance?

DV: An IGR can be beneficial in that regard because you’re providing two different modes of action on the insect. A pyrethroid insecticide is a sodium channel blocker. And a lot of those (insecticides) have been around for a while, so there is resistance in the field for certain insects. Mixing in an IGR gives you a different control method. So if you have a resistant population, let’s say an application only kills 50% because of resistance. Put an IGR in there, and those that survive the application will produce either dead pupae or sterile adults. It helps remediate that resistance that is building up in a population with conventional insecticides.