Biopesticides, including botanicals, can offer a safe and effective alternative to conventional insecticides for controlling major insect pests within an integrated pest management program. The current study highlights the practical application of a botanical insecticide for controlling a major insect pest of turfgrass: European chafer, Rhizotrogus majalis (Razoumowsky). Greenhouse and field trials were conducted to test the efficacy of a botanical formulation based on black pepper, Piper nigrum L. (Piperaceae), seed extracts to R. majalis larvae. The 7-d P. nigrum extract LC50 for R. majalis third instars was 2.5%. Successful treatment in the field was accomplished with the application of a 2% P. nigrum formulation to turfgrass infested with R. majalis second and third instars, whereas 4% extract was required in a second field trial with older third instars. The 2% pepper extract activity was comparable with the conventional insecticide diazinon in the first field trial. However, the 4% pepper extracts significantly affected the earthworm populations in treated plots compared with diazinon in the second field trail. The analysis of soil residues for piperamides in the P. nigrum extract determined a half-life of 1–2.6 d in the first and second field trials, respectively. This confirmed the expectation that under field conditions the residual activity would be less than conventional insecticides, thereby reducing the environmental risk associated with pesticide use. We recommend the pepper formulation for spot treatment applications when population densities reveal an epicenter of infestation rather than broadcasting over large areas, thus helping to minimize cost and negative affects on nontarget invertebrates.
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Vol. 98 • No. 3