Insects and mites are major limiting factors for production of horticultural crops in subtropical Florida. Direct losses due to feeding of pests on plants as well as indirect losses due to transmission of plant pathogens and increased production costs can be substantial. In response to these threats to production, a model integrated pest management (IPM) program sponsored by GCREC was successfully introduced into west-central Florida. The program, based upon systematic scouting and timed applications of insecticides using action thresholds, was commercially adopted two years later with the result that industry-wide leafminer outbreaks were eliminated. The program was successful in reducing the number of insecticide applications per tomato crop from 50 or more to as few as 10.
Research and on-farm demonstration activities have permitted growers to improve their programs and to respond to new threats. The identification and use of insecticides less toxic to natural enemies, particularly of leafminers, resulted in the conservation of these natural enemies and the fuller integration of biological control into the program. Sampling was improved using visual assessments for leafminer larvae and their parasites, yellow sticky traps for leafminer adults and pheromone traps for tomato pinworm adults. The development of the mating disruption technique for the tomato pinworm reduced the need for insecticides to control this pest. The technique is based upon the mass application of sex attractant pheromones to confuse males trying to locate females, with the result that mating success is reduced and fewer fertile eggs are deposited. New sampling procedures and action thresholds were developed for the pepper weevil on pepper. The role of nightshade weed hosts in the population dynamics of the pepper weevil led to cultural recommendations to manage these weeds during the summer off-season.