Testing insecticides against Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) using a tomato plant bioassay

I.R. Kay, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Queensland, 49 Ashfield Road, Bundaberg, Queensland 4670, Australia.


A bioassay technique was developed to test the efficacy of insecticides against potato moth (Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller)) on tomatoes. The technique tested efficacy against both larvae in mines and neonate larvae that had not yet penetrated the leaf, and explained the failure of some insecticides to control P. operculella infestations in commercial tomato crops. Neonate larvae placed on leaves of potted plants several days before treatment provided larvae for testing of insecticides against larvae in mines; other neonates were placed on leaves after treatment to test efficacy against larvae yet to penetrate the leaf. The plants were sprayed with the candidate insecticides, held for 5-7 days, and larval mortality assessed. Chlorfenapyr (100, 200 g a.i. ha-1) and abamectin (8.1 g a.i. ha-1) were effective against neonate larvae and larvae in mines. Sulprofos (720 g a.i. ha-1), methomyl (450 g a.i. ha-1) and spinosad (96 g a.i. ha-1) were effective against neonate larvae but not against larvae in mines. Methamidophos (1102 g a.i. ha-1), endosulfan (700 g a.i. ha-1) and Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (1000 g ha-1) had some effect against exposed larvae but little against larvae in mines. Thiodicarb (525 g a.i. ha-1), azinphos-ethyl (440 g a.i. ha-1), imidacloprid (59.5 g a.i. ha-1), hexaflumuron (50 g a.i. ha-1), methoxyfenozide (300 g a.i. ha-1) and tebufenozide (200 g a.i. ha-1) were ineffective. A field trial using chlorfenapyr (25, 50, 100, 150 and 200 g a.i. ha-1) and methamidophos (1102 g a.i. ha-1) validated the bioassay technique, with chlorfenapyr effective in reducing the numbers of larvae in mines in leaves.


Plant Protection Quarterly (2006) 21 (1) 20-24.