Ambrosia beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae) are increasingly important pests of nursery-grown trees because of the arrival of several invasive species. Ambrosia beetles bore into young trees and inoculate them with ambrosia fungus, which interferes with vascular transport resulting in limb or tree death. In spring, when beetles are active, growers make frequent applications of pyrethroid insecticides to susceptible tree species to deter beetles from boring into trees. Applications often are made with airblast sprayers that forcefully release insecticide mist that billows through nursery beds. Our objective was to compare the environmental, nontarget, and economic effects of airblast sprayer applications to applications made with a new dual-nozzle spray wand that makes targeted applications only to tree trunks where beetles attack. Through replicated experiments at commercial nurseries, we found that 5 times more insecticide was released by airblast sprayers than the manual spray wand. The extra insecticide from airblast applications landed on tree canopies, between rows, and left the nursery beds as drift. As a consequence of not spraying tree canopies, 50% more natural enemies and 50% fewer spider mites were captured in nursery beds treated with the manual spray wand than beds treated with the airblast sprayer. Manual applications require 12 times more labor than airblast applications. However, increased need for expensive miticide applications may make manual applications an economically feasible strategy for integrated pest management (IPM) of ambrosia beetles in nurseries.
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