Aza-Direct Stops Insect Feeding

Aza-Direct Targets Critical Pests

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Aza-Direct, with the active ingredient Azadirachtin, is one of the most potent, reduced risk insect pest controls among all the natural pesticides.

With four modes of action, Aza-Direct targets critical pests such as spider mites, thrips, whitefly, aphids, and lygus. It’s very safe with beneficial insects, especially bees, to help maintain the natural balance within the crop.

The product has a lot of excellent benefits regarding those four modes of action, explained Patrick Holverson, Director of Ag Business with Parry America Inc., which manufactures the active ingredients for Aza-Direct.

“Because of the four modes of action, you will not get a resistance buildup like you can with standard chemicals,” Holverson said. “What I like about it, many growers in California will apply Aza-Direct in anticipation before the target pest hits because it is not a contact killer; it takes two or three days to get into the pest’s system to reduce the population.”

Furthermore, the material is an excellent repellent and as well as an anti-feeding agent.

“Those pests who stay in the treated field will experience severe feeding cessation due to a locked jaw and digestive system,” Holverson said. “So, the pests that do feed on the plant, the material acts as an insect growth regulator that affects both the eggs and the larva, preventing them from reaching maturity.”

Holverson said that in strawberries, Aza-Direct controls two significant pests—including two-spotted spider mite and lygus—that come in after losing their host crop.

“The product prevents puckered strawberries and increases the value of the crop,” he said. “It can be used on both organic and conventional crops.”

It has a zero-day pre-harvest interval, and four-hour re-entry, which is essential in a crop such as strawberries.

Lygus Bug Control in Strawberries

Lygus Bug Control in Strawberries Can Prevent Significant Damage

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Adult Lygus Bug, Jack Kelly Clark, UC IPM
Adult lygus bug, Lygus hesperus.
(Photo by Jack Kelly Clark, UC IPM)

In the coastal areas of California where the majority of strawberries are grown, the top pest pressure comes from the lygus bugHillary Thomas, senior production research manager with Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission, works on lygus bug control in strawberries, as it causes significant damage to the crop each season.

“We conservatively attribute between $150 and $250 million in damage each year to the lygus bug alone,” Thomas said. “We have only a few tools to handle this pest, including insecticide and vacuums, that can be used for the strawberry industry.”

Thomas explained vacuum use is widespread by both conventional and organic growers despite its drawbacks, beginning with the huge investment required by the grower. The vacuum is generally tractor-mounted with three or four vacuum fume hoods to one hydraulic system, and the entire vacuum system runs off the tractor’s PTO (power takeoff). The vacuum is so difficult to remove, it is typically installed on the tractor for the entire season.

Therefore, current research aims to make the vaccuum more useful, according to Thomas, by focusing on technological innovations to improve vacuum efficiency. She explained, “We are literally trying to suck up as many bugs as possible by moving the largest cubic volume of air and killing all the insects that move through the vacuum. We have created some standard operating procedures for vacuums as well as recommended short-term modifications to improve their efficiency by 25 percent. The Commission has also developed a series of trainings to disseminate information on the best management practices vacuums for growers.