Certain neonicotinoids are used in cotton, Gossypium hirsutum (L.), to control various piercing–sucking pests. We conducted field studies using three neonicotinoids (acetamiprid, thiamethoxam, and imidacloprid) and an organophosphate (dicrotophos) to assess the activity of these insecticides against nontarget arthropods, particularly predators, and to determine the potential economic consequences of such activity. Mortality among populations of the big-eyed bug, Geocoris punctipes (Say), and the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, was highest after thiamethoxam and dicrotophos treatments. Numbers of arachnids were consistently lower after dicrotophos treatments, whereas none of the neonicotinoids caused appreciable mortality. Total predators in pooled data from five separate studies revealed that numbers, compared with untreated plots, were reduced by ≈75% in dicrotophos, 55–60% in thiamethoxam, and only 30% in both acetamiprid and imidacloprid plots. Acetamiprid and thiamethoxam exhibited significant mortality against field-deposited eggs of bollworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie). Both thiamethoxam and dicrotophos plots exhibited bollworm numbers that were approximately three times higher than treatment thresholds (three per 100 plants), whereas numbers in untreated plots were below threshold levels. In one study on Bt cotton, a significant negative correlation was observed between numbers of predators and bollworm larvae. Results demonstrated that neonicotinoids differ in activity against predaceous arthropods and bollworm eggs and that high predator mortality can result in resurgence of bollworm larvae and additional insecticide costs.
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Vol. 98 • No. 3