COMPARATIVE COST OF CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WHITEFLY CONTROL IN POINSETTIA: IS THERE A GAP?
AbstractCost is the principal constraint on the use of biological control against whiteflies in poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Koltz.) crops in the United States. Here we show that a new, lower release rate of the whitefly parasitoid Eretmocerus eremicus Rose and Zolnerowich (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae), 0.5 females per plant per week, maintains whiteflies (Bemisia argentifolii Bellows and Perring) at harvest below the economic threshold of 2 live nymphs + pupae per leaf, when used in combination with two mid-crop applications of the insect growth regulator fenoxycarb (Precision®). Cost of this program (for 16.5 cm dia single stem pots, with 30,000 plants under protection) varies from 21 to 34 cents per plant for the season, for cropping periods from 12 to 18 weeks. Shipping costs are calculated and included in estimated costs. These values compare favorably to the real cost of whitefly chemical control incurred by Massachusetts poinsettia growers in fall of 2000, which was 14 cents for a 16.5 cm dia single stem pot, with a range of 1 to 40 cents. Programs consisting of a single application of the systemic insecticide imidacloprid alone cost 12 cents per pot per season. This difference between 21 cents for the biological control program and 14 cents for the chemical control program is the smallest yet reported for biological control of whiteflies in poinsettia.
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