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1 November 2023 Managing insect and plant pathogen pests with organic and conventional pesticides in onions
Natalie Constancio, Douglas Higgins, Mary Hausbeck, Zsofia Szendrei
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Onion thrips (Thrips tabaci Lindeman,Thysanoptera:Thripidae) is a significant insect pest of onions (Allium cepa L., Asparagales: Amaryllidaceae). In addition to feeding on onion foliage, they may spread plant pathogens. Currently, onion thrips and pathogens are managed as separate pests with insecticides and fungicides. It may be beneficial to manage these pests simultaneously as limiting onion thrips may reduce pathogen damage. We tested combinations of bio- and conventional pesticides in a season-long management program in Michigan onion fields. From 2020 to 2022, we counted onion thrips weekly and visually estimated plant foliage necrotic damage (%) in experimental plots each year. In 2020, we tested 6 treatment programs including: azadirachtin, spinosad, a copper-based fungicide, azadirachtin + copper-based fungicide, spinosad + copper-based fungicide, and untreated control. The thrips populations were not significantly reduced compared to the control, but necrotic damage was reduced significantly in spinosad-treated plots. In 2021, we tested a combination of 8 bio- and conventional pesticide programs. Compared to the control, the bioinsecticides did not reduce onion thrips populations, but the conventional pesticide programs reduced both onion thrips numbers and necrotic damage. In 2022, we tested only conventional insecticide programs but included 3 different action thresholds for initiation and applied them with or without a fungicide, for 8 treatments. All insecticide programs reduced onion thrips compared to the control, the action threshold did not impact thrips numbers significantly. Overall, the use of action thresholds can lead to fewer insecticide applications and a lower incidence of leaf damage.

Natalie Constancio, Douglas Higgins, Mary Hausbeck, and Zsofia Szendrei "Managing insect and plant pathogen pests with organic and conventional pesticides in onions," Journal of Economic Entomology 116(6), 2116-2123, (1 November 2023).
Received: 22 June 2023; Accepted: 18 October 2023; Published: 1 November 2023

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action threshold
onion thrips
plant disease
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