Organosilicone molecules are important surfactant ingredients used in formulating pesticides. These methylated silicones are considered inert ingredients, but their superior surfactant properties allow them to wet, and either suffocate or disrupt important physiological processes in mites and insects. Aqueous solutions of the trisiloxane surfactants Silwet L-77, Silwet 408, and Silwet 806 were bioassayed against adult female twospotted spider mites, Tetranychus urticae Koch, with leaf dip methods to compare their toxicity with organosilicone molecules containing bulkier hydrophobic components. All three trisiloxanes in aqueous solutions were equivalently toxic (LC50 = 5.5–8.9 ppm), whereas Silwet L-7607 solutions were less toxic (LC50 = 4,800 ppm) and Silwet L-7200 was nontoxic to mites. In another experiment, the toxicity of Silwet L-77 was affected by the wettability of leaf surfaces. The LC50 shifted from 22 to 84 ppm when mites were tested on bean and strawberry leaf disks, respectively. Droplet spreading on paraffin and surface tension were both related to the toxicity of surfactant solutions. Surface tensions of solutions below 23 mN/m caused >90% mite mortality in leaf dip bioassays. A field test of Conserve SC and its formulation blank, with and without Dyne-Amic adjuvant (a vegetable oil-organosilicone surfactant mixture) revealed that Dyne-Amic had the greatest miticidal contribution, reducing mite populations by 70%, followed by formulation inactive ingredients. Spinosad, the listed active ingredient in Conserve, only contributed miticidal activity when synergized by Dyne-Amic. Researchers should include appropriate surfactant or formulation blank controls when testing insecticides or miticides, especially when using high spray volumes.
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Vol. 93 • No. 2