Integrating kaolin clay for ambrosia beetle management in ornamental crops of eastern redbud.
Invasive ambrosia beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) are an important pest problem at ornamental tree nurseries. Available chemical treatments are not completely effective and, due to the length of the beetle dispersal period and insecticide breakdown, repeated treatments can become costly in terms of application expense and nontarget impacts. Additional options are needed to reduce application frequency and to provide an acceptable level of crop protection. Four treatments were tested using ethanol-injected eastern redbud trees at research sites in Mississippi (MS) and Tennessee (TN) over 2 years (2014-15), with the number of new ambrosia beetle galleries compared over time on (1) nontreated control trees, (2) kaolin-treated trees, (3) bifenthrin-treated trees, and (4) kaolin+bifenthrin (k+b)-treated trees. Kaolin-treated trees rapidly lost their coating after rain events and, at 6 days after treatment (DAT) in TN, no differences were detected in the number of beetle galleries between kaolin and nontreated control trees. Kaolin+bifenthrin-treated trees appeared to retain treatment residue longer, but were not better-protected than bifenthrin-treated trees at any time. Further research is needed to determine whether an adjuvant, such as a surfactant, spreader, or sticker, may enhance the modest impact offered by kaolin in our test, or if a reduction in rates of bifenthrin may be allowable.