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Flower injection of imidacloprid and spirotetramat: a novel tool for the management of banana thrips Thrips hawaiiensis

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The banana thrips (Thrips hawaiiensis), which is one of the most common flower-inhabiting thrips, currently causes serious damage to banana trees in China. As spray treatments have low efficacy to control this thrips pest, changing to new control measures are crucial. Among the available approaches, injection of a systemic insecticide is considered suitable. However, little is known about this approach up to now. Between 2014 and 2018, imidacloprid and spirotetramat were applied via flower injection and evaluated for their potential to control the thrips. In 2014, laboratory bioassays together with field experiments revealed that imidacloprid and spirotetramat injected at recommended dose appeared to be effective in controlling the thrips, supporting the idea of flower injection. Thereafter, a 2-year study (2015–2016) of spirotetramat showed that higher injection rates resulted in greater mortality and better field efficacy against the thrips when flower injection was utilized. Another 2-year (2017–2018) field trial indicated that either imidacloprid or spirotetramat injection exhibited significantly higher efficacy and had no negative effects on fruit yield when compared to spinetoram spray. Results also showed that the efficacy of the flower injection was not influenced by banana species and phenological conditions. Moreover, the fast uptake of imidacloprid and spirotetramat in flower samples could account for their lethal activity against the thrips in bioassays. Notably, these two products degraded quickly in the young fruit and no residue was detected within the ripe fruit, implying that the flower injection might not present a risk to contaminate fruit. Overall, these findings taken together represent for the first time that flower injection of imidacloprid and spirotetramat can be regarded as a new alternative to control the banana thrips effectively.

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The authors wish to thank Shanguang Li, Xiya Xia and Yuan Le for their technical advice and assistance in bioassays, tree injection, tree mapping, tree sampling and tree measurements. All authors are grateful to Dr. Melanie Davidon for her professional English proofreading. Xin Zhang and Zhonghe Weng allowed us to use their banana orchards for our experiments. This research was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Project No. 2017YFD0202100) and partly supported by the Special Fund for Basic Scientific Research of Central Public Research Institutes of China (Project Nos. 1630042017010 and 1630042019007). We would also like to acknowledge the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.

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Correspondence to Buli Fu or Kui Liu.

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Fu, B., Qiu, H., Li, Q. et al. Flower injection of imidacloprid and spirotetramat: a novel tool for the management of banana thrips Thrips hawaiiensis. J Pest Sci (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10340-020-01209-7

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  • Thrips
  • Banana
  • Injection
  • Systemic insecticide
  • Efficacy
  • Residues
  • Pest control