The sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius), B biotype, presents a unique problem for vegetable growers by serving as a vector of plant viruses and by inducing physiological disorders of leaves and fruit. An action threshold of a single whitefly is necessary because of the threat of disease in many areas and growers rely heavily on a single class of insecticides (neonicotinoids) for whitefly control. Additional control methods are needed to manage this pest in commercial vegetables. Extracts of wild tobacco contain natural sugar esters that have previously been shown effective in controlling many soft-bodied insects. We developed a novel tomato leaf bioassay system to assess a synthetic sugar ester derivative, sucrose octanoate, for insecticidal activity against the eggs, nymphs, and adults of B tabaci. The LC50 values for sucrose octanoate against adults, second instars, and fourth instars of the whitefly were 880, 686, and 1,571 ppm, respectively. The LC50 against whitefly eggs was higher (11,446 ppm) but indicated that some egg mortality occurred at the recommended application rate of 0.8–1.2% (3,200–4,800 ppm [AI]). Toxicity of sugar esters to whitefly eggs has not been reported previously. The tomato leaf bioassay produced reliable and repeatable results for whitefly toxicity studies and predicted that effective nymph and adult whitefly control can be achieved with sucrose octanoate at application rates ≤1% (4,000 ppm [AI]). Field efficacy studies are warranted to determine whether this biorational pesticide has application in commercial tomato production.
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Vol. 98 • No. 4