The latest Arizona Vegetable Integrated Pest Management Update from the University of Arizona (UA) Cooperative Extension in Yuma, Ariz. released June 1, 2011.

Insect losses, insecticide usage in spring melons

By John Palumbo, UA Research Scientist and Extension Specialist

The UA Vegetable IPM Team has conducted annual surveys though interactive workshops since 2005 that document insect pest activity and insecticide usage in cantaloupes, mixed melons, and watermelons. Overall, the information provided by pest control advisers (PCAs) and growers during the workshops can be very useful to the melon industry for a number of reasons.

First, the data is extremely helpful in supporting the industry’s efforts in addressing state and federal regulatory issues by providing real world information on insect pest status and insecticides usage that otherwise would not be available. This type of information is invaluable for supporting product re-registrations, plus demonstrating the importance of a particular pest or insecticides necessary for supporting Section 18 and SLN requests.

Secondly, from an academic perspective, survey results often provide us with a historic record of insect occurrences that allows us to identify trends in pest activity and insecticide use, and can be useful for prioritizing our research and extension activities.

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

For example, results from these surveys over the past six years show:

1 - costs associated with spray applications and management fees have increased steadily;

2 - two-spotted spider mites are clearly a major pest of desert watermelons, but seldom attain pest status or require control in cantaloupes;

3 - the older, broadly toxic insecticides are slowly being replaced with newer, softer, reduced-risk chemistries.

The information generated from the surveys is not surprising to growers and PCAs. However, these surveys document important pest information useful to those less involved with the day-to-day activities of IPM in desert melons.

To view a complete summary of the Lettuce Insect Losses and Insecticide Usage surveys in Arizona spring melons from 2005-2010, click on this link.

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