Timely application of four insecticides to control corn earworm and fall armyworm larvae in sweet corn.
Insecticide sprays are a common practice to control corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), and fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), in corn (Zea mays L.) at reproductive stages. Our objectives were to determine (1) the most appropriate time for insecticide applications and (2) the effect of four insecticides on the survival of larvae as well as their weight. ß-cyfluthrin (0.4 mL/L), chlorantraniliprole (0.6 mL/L), emamectin benzoate (0.2 g/L), and spinetoram (1.5 mL/L) were sprayed on silks of sweet corn planted in Isabela and Lajas, Puerto Rico 3 h before and 24 and 48 h after pollination. The number of kernels produced and the damage of larvae on kernels were quantified at harvest. In addition, percentages of mortality and changes on larval weight were noted at 96 h after insecticide applications. Insecticide sprays at 3 h before pollination reduced the number of kernels or were similar to the control in all treatments. However, emamectin benzoate sprayed in Lajas and chlorantraniliprole applied in Isabela at 48 h after pollination increased the number of kernels (281-294) and reduced the damage of larvae on kernels (<0.5%) compared to the control (201-229; >7%). Furthermore, applications of emamectin benzoate caused higher percentages of fall armyworm larval mortality (>70%). Conversely, ß-cyfluthrin and chlorantraniliprole caused lower percentages of mortality (<30%) and only chlorantraniliprole and spinetoram reduced the weight of corn earworm and fall armyworm larvae collected in both locations. This information may help pest management programs and corn breeders to schedule insecticide sprays and pollination in the field.