Pollinator update: Insecticide alternatives.

At OHP we pride ourselves for bringing the very best crop protection tools into the US ornamental production market. Recent events in the news have sparked a lot of discussion and questions regarding the impact of neonicotinoid insecticides on honey bees and other pollinators.  This has led some growers and retailers away from this family of insecticides which includes some of the most effective and environmentally safe insecticides available today. We are proud to have been the first to bring Neonicotinoid insecticides into our market 20 years ago and we continue to support the use of these important tools in accordance with science based EPA regulations.

Although we continue to support the use of Neonicotinoid insecticides, we understand that growers are looking for chemical alternatives to manage insect pests. Unfortunately there is no single insecticide product  or family of products that provides the breath and length of activity as Marathon®, Discus® (Imidacloprid) or the other neonicotinoid insecticides. However, for growers seeking alternatives, OHP carries an extensive and diverse portfolio of chemical solutions. These include Kontos® (Spirotetramat), and many other insecticides like Judo® (Spiromesifen), Decathlon® (Cyfluthrin), Fulcrum® (Pyriproxyfen), Pedestal® (Novaluron), Adept® (Diflubenzuron), Azatin® O (Azadirachtin) and Triact® (Neem oil).

Kontos is a systemic insecticide for the control of sucking insect pests. Systemic insecticides are incorporated by the plant after application and move from treated surfaces to untreated ones, thus providing better protection than contact-insecticide sprays.  All systemic insecticide molecules available today can move acropetally (towards the tips of the plant) via the xylem but, often because they are highly water-soluble, do not effectively move basipetally (towards the base of the plant) in the phloem.  Kontos is a true systemic insecticide; once in the plant, it converts into a molecule with the perfect combination of characteristics for xylem and phloem mobility.  Kontos is one of very few insecticides available today that is able to move ‘up and down’ the plant and provide complete protection against key pests.

Kontos is also friendly to our environment; since it works within the plant tissues, it is non toxic to pollinators and other insects that do not feed directly on the plant’s sap. Kontos is very quickly degraded by microorganisms in the soil and on the plant surface and it is used at such a low concentration (less than 0.03% by volume) that the chemical load on the environment is very low compared to traditional chemistries.  Also, since it works by inhibiting lipid synthesis (fat reserves) in the developing insects it has little effect on most adult predators and parasitoids that have already developed these fat reserves. Therefore, Kontos is highly compatible with biological control programs within an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy.

Kontos should be used early in the crop cycle to prevent pest damage and not as a rescue treatment; it takes time for the product to reach lethal concentrations within the xylem and phloem tissues and to get translocated through the plant. Applications targeting small initial pest populations not only are more effective but also minimize aesthetic damage and plant losses.