The efficacy of a mosquito netting to protect cabbages, Brassica oleracea L., against pests was investigated in field trials in Benin, West Africa. A polyester net covered the plants at night by using a wood armature. The net was removed during the day to prevent overheating and excessive shade, both problems of insect-proof screens used under tropical conditions. The number of all lepidopteran larvae with netting protection and foliar insecticide sprays was significantly lower than the unprotected control. The number of diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.), was significantly lower with netting protection compared with foliar insecticide sprays and control. Netting treated with deltamethrin gave total protection of young plants against the aphid Lipaphis erysimi (Kaltenbach). At harvest, the number of marketable cabbages protected with untreated netting was significantly higher compared with the production with foliar insecticide sprays. The protection of cabbages with netting can be an economically viable method. Considering the price of cabbages on local markets (US$1/unit), the net returns per 100 m2 were US$247 by using netting, US$149 by using insecticides, and US$117 for controls. The net returns for using netting are based on replacing the netting each crop cycle. But netting can be reused several times, depending upon conditions, increasing the profit margin. The netting protection may be an alternative to the growing unsustainable practices of vegetable cropping in peri-urban areas of tropical countries.
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Vol. 99 • No. 2