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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Fluorescent Brighteners Affect Feeding Rates of the Corn Earworm (Lepidoptera:noctuidae) and Act As Enchancers and Sunlight Protectants for Its Nucleopolyhedrovirus

item Shapiro, Martin
item Farrar, Robert

Submitted to: Journal of Entomological Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 16, 2002
Publication Date: July 3, 2002

Interpretive Summary: Commercial agriculture continues to rely heavily on chemical pesticides for insect pest control, despite problems with environmental contamination, worker exposure, and residues in agricultural products. Nucleopolyhedroviruses (NPVs) are naturally occurring viruses, each of which infects only a certain few species of insects or other arthropods. They are promising alternatives to pesticides for many important pests, especially caterpillars. However, formulations of NPVs currently available are often not as effective as chemical insecticides, in part because these viruses are of relatively low potency, and because sunlight degrades the virus before it can infect insects. Fluorescent brighteners are known both to increase the potency of many NPVs and to protect them from sunlight. The corn earworm is a serious pest of corn, cotton, tomato and other crops, and a virus that infects it is available. We conducted a series of tests of seven fluorescent brighteners with the virus of the corn earworm, and found that Blankophor HRS was the best one to use with this NPV. This finding should lead to improvements in the formulations of the corn earworm virus, and thus allow growers to obtain better results. The development of more effective formulations of NPVs should increase their use in practical pest management programs. This can, in turn, reduce the use of chemical pesticides and problems of contamination, worker exposure, and residues.

Technical Abstract: Seven diaminostilbene disulfonic acid-derived fluorescent brighteners, including Blankophor BBH, Blankophor HRS, Blankophor P167, Blankophor RKH, Blankophor LPG, Blankophor DML, and Blankophor BSU (Bayer, Rock Hill, SC), were tested for effects on feeding rates of Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) and as enhancers and sunlight protectants for the H. zea nucleopolyhedrovirus (HzSNPV). All tests were done using virus applied to plant material. Blankophor BBH and Blankophor RKH were feeding deterrents; the other brighteners did not affect feeding. Blankophor HRS caused the greatest increases in activity of HzSNPV, both with and without exposure to simulated sunlight.

Last Modified: 4/21/2015
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