The latest Arizona Vegetable Integrated Pest Management Update from the University of Arizona (UA) Cooperative Extension in Yuma, Ariz., released April 20, 2011.

Insect losses and insecticide usage in head lettuce

By John Palumbo, UA Research Scientist and Extension Specialist

Since 2004, the University of Arizona Vegetable Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Team has annually surveyed pest control advisers (PCAs) and growers to document insect pest activity and insecticide usage in head lettuce through interactive workshops. The information provided can be very useful to the lettuce industry.

First, the data can be extremely helpful in addressing state and federal regulatory issues by providing ‘real world’ information on insect pest status and insecticide usage. Secondly, from an academic perspective, the results of the surveys provide a historic record of insect occurrences which allows us to prioritize some research and extension activities.

Finally, for PCAs, it can translate their efforts into economic terms for their clientele and confirms their value to the lettuce industry by showing the importance of key insect pests and cost-effective management in desert lettuce production.

For example, results from the surveys over the past six years indicate: the costs associated with spray applications and management fees have increased steadily; western flower thrips has become an important economic pest in fall and spring lettuce; and the use of older, broadly toxic insecticides (OP/Carbamates/Endosulfan) has dropped significantly, whereas use of the newer, softer reduced-risk chemistries (e.g., Radiant, Movento) continues to increase.

These surveys document this information for those less involved with the day-to-day activities of IPM in desert lettuce.

To view a complete summary of the Lettuce Insect Losses and Insecticide Usage surveys in Arizona head lettuce from 2004-2010, go to "Assessments of Insect Losses in Lettuce.”  

Contact Palumbo: (928) 928-782-3836 or