The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.
Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
SS AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH & EDUCATION CENTER.. .........
-- IFAS, University of Florida U E LI R
Bradenton, Florida I UME LIBRARY
Bradenton AREC Research Report GC1977-10 sRmI i 1977
INSECT AND MITE PESTS ON GYPSOPHILA
i.F.A.S. Univ. of Florida
David J. Schuster and Brent K. Harbaugh-" --- -
Interest in gypsophila production by commercial flower growers in Florida contin-
ues to increase. Insect control programs are constantly changing as information on
the biology and life cycle of pests is gained, new insecticides become available and
as "old" insecticides are lost to the new pesticide registration laws. To keep the
grower abreast of recent information not presented or available in the Florida Flower
Grower, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1973 ("Gypsophila Production in Florida," J. C. Raulston,
S. L. Poe, F. J. Marousky, and W. T. Witte), this report presents current information
on insect control for gypsophila.
Gypsophila grown in open fields serves as a host to many insect pests against
which some control measures are applied. Only the more common and destructive species
MOTHS: Moths are adult "worms or caterpillars" that seek seclusion on gypsophila
and weed foliage during the daylight but become active at night and may fly long dis-
tances to locate an acceptable host. Moths usually deposit their eggs on the under-
sides of leaves but eggs may also be located on upper leaf surfaces and stems. Eggs
generally hatch within a few days and larvae cause damage by feeding on leaves, stems,
or flowers. Moths attracted to gypsophila include armyworms, cutworms and loopers.
Armyworms: The beet and southern armyworms, Spodoptera exigua (HUbner) and
S. eridania (Cramer) respectively, are the most important moths attacking gypsophila.
Eggs are deposited in masses of a few to several hundred and are covered with scales
from the female's body. Larvae tend to feed on the same plant after hatching and may
consume it entirely. Early larval stages of the beet armyworm tie leaves or portions
of leaves together and feed protected within the enclosures. Later stages of both
species migrate to other plants increasing the range of damage. Beet armyworm larvae
are usually pale to dark green with a prominent dark spot above the middle pair of
true legs (those immediately behind the head). Southern armyworms are generally
gray-brown in color with triangular black spots on the upper body surface and an
irregular dark spot on the side of the first abdominal segment (the first segment
behind the true legs). Bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel(R)) and trichlorfon (Dylox(R)
Proxol(R)) are registered for control on flower crops.
Cutworns: The granulate cutworm, Feltia subterranea (Fab.) is the most
important species of cutworm attacking gypsophila. The larvae are large and pale
brown with chevron-like markings on the upper body surface. They spend the day hidden
near the soil surface, but leave this shelter to forage at night. The:larvae feed on
tender stems and leaves, and may cut off young plants at the soil line. When dis-
turbed, cutworm larvae characteristically curl into a c-shaped form. Eggs are laid
singly on stems, plant debris or soil and, as a result, larvae are not gregarious.
Chlorpyrifos (Dursban(R)) and trichlorfon (Dylox(R), Proxol(R)) are registered for
control on flower crops.
Loopers: The cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni (Hubner) and soybean looper,
Pseudoplusia includes (Walker), are the most impbrtaiit looper caterpillars found on
gypsophila. Larvae are slender bodied, pale green with lengthwise white stripes and
move in a looping or inch-worm manner. They hatch from eggs laid singly and begin
feeding from the undersides of leaves. Early stages consume all but the upper
epidermal layer, leaving "windows" in the leaves. Later stages devour most of the
leaf except the veins, leaving large holes or only a leaf skeleton. Monocrotophos
(Azodrin(R)) and Bacillus thuringiensis are registered for control on flower crops.
LEAFMINERS: These insects are larvae or maggots of small black and yellow
gnat-like flies. The most common are species of Liriomyza. The adult females lay
eggs singly in the leaf tissue by inserting them in punctures made with a blade-like
ovipositor. Sap flowing from this wound is a source of food for the adults. Eggs
hatch in a few days and the tiny maggots tunnel within the leaf leaving a serpentine
trail. Leaves may be heavily damaged by the leafminer's tunnels which reduces the
aesthetic appeal of the foliage. Occasionally, leafminer populations can become
great enough to cause dessication and dropping of leaves. Mature maggots emerge from
the tunnel, drop to the soil and become inactive puparia from which adult flies emerge
in 7-14 days. Oxydemetonmethyl (Metasystox-R(R)) and trichlorfon (Dylox(R) and
Proxol(R)) sprays and aldicarb (Temik(R)) granules are registered for leafminer con-
trol on flower crops.
THRIPS: Flower thrips, Frankliniella spp., are most destructive in the spring
when populations increase on alternate host plants (weeds, clover, citrus) and migrate
to fields of gypsophila. The rasping and sucking of the nymphs and adults result in
silvering, yellowing, or browning of the flowers. Wilting or secondary diseases may
develop as a result. Protection should be given the flowers during heavy thrips
flights by registered sprays of monocrotophos (Azodrin (R), chlorpyrifos (Dursban(R)),
azinophosmethyl (Guthion(R)), malathion, methoxychlor, oxydemetonmethyl (Meta-
systox-R(R)), or granular applications of disulfoton (Di-Syston(R)) or aldicarb
APHIDS: Aphids, primarily the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae (Sulzer)), are
occasional pests of gypsophila. Although large populations seldom develop, treatment
for these sucking insects may be required. The honeydew secreted onto the foliage by
nymphs and adults provide a medium for microorganisms. Aesthetic quality may be re-
duced by the black soot-like growth (sooty mold) growing on the honeydew secretion.
Yield may be reduced by the decreased light reaching the leaf. Sprays of monocroto-
phos (Azodrin(R)), azinphosmethyl (Guthion(R)), oxydemetonmethyl (Metasystox-R(R)),
and demeton (Systox(R)) and granular applications of disulfoton (Di-Syston(R)) and
aldicarb (Temik(R)) are registered for aphid control.
RED SPIDER, SPIDERMITES: These tiny pests are about 1/50" long, have 8 legs,
are greenish, reddish or yellowish. They are not insects or spiders, but mites.
They cause damage by feeding with needle-like mouth parts which puncture individual
plant cells and extract fluids. All stages egg, larva, nymph and adult are present
at the same time on the host. Under optimum conditions a generation can be completed
in 10-14 days. Each female lays many eggs singly over a 20-30 day period; hence,
generations overlap. Between each stage of development is a period of inactivity
during which molting occurs. During this period, treatment for control is less
effective since the new skin is protected by the molted skin. Consequently, treat-
ments applied at three or four day intervals resulted in better control of this pest.
Sprays of monocrotophos (Azodrin(R)), oxydemetonmethyl (Metasystox-R(R)), demeton
(Systox(R)), dicofol, oxythioquinox (Morestan(R)) and tetradifon (Tedion(R)) and
granular applications of aldicarb (Temik(R)) and disulfoton (Di-Syston(R)) are
registered for mite control on flower crops.
SAPROPHYTIC MITES (SOIL MITES): Included here are the several species of sapro-
phytic mites generally found on rotting, diseased bulbs, corms, tubers or rhizomes.
The growth of gypsophila from an underground food storage organ often provides an
ideal condition for mite infestation. Large mite populations may become prevalent
when the soil is wet and the roots decay. These mites feed on the rotten portions of
the plant and on the fungal mycelia. In doing so, they may mechanically spread un-
wanted disease-causing pathogens throughout the soil. The best treatment for sapro-
phytic mite control is in complete disease control and prevention of decaying plants
through improved drainage.
Since the passage of the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act (FEPCA) of
1972, it is illegal to apply a pesticide by any means not included on the label. The
user must apply the material at the specified rate with the proper application and
safety equipment on the crops and pests specifically stated or included on the label.
These restrictions make the choice of insecticides and miticides more critical.
Growers are strongly urged to read the entire label and to use the pesticide strictly
in accordance with label cautions, warnings, restrictions and directions. The use of
trade names in the above discussion is solely for the purpose of providing specific
information. It is not a guarantee or warranty of the products named and does not
signify that they are recommended to the exclusion of others of suitable composition.
Not all of the listed chemicals have been tested on gypsophila in the field. In
the greenhouse after four weekly sprays on foliage or four weeks following a single
granular application, some of the materials indicated safety (Table 1). Disulfoton
(Di-syston(R)) and methoxychlor (Marlate(R)) produced no phytotoxic symptoms. Para-
thion was extremely toxic to gypsophila foliage and is not recommended for use. In
general, all chemicals producing ratings of less than 2.0 are considered relatively
safe to apply. Materials which caused damage ratings of 2.0 or greater may be used
but caution should be exercised. It is recommended that a small portion of the crop
be treated to test for safety before treating the entire crop since prevailing con-
ditions can drastically affect phytotoxic responses. Also, take special precautions
when applying any chemicals to open flowers, as some may not be phytotoxic to the
foliage, but harmful to gypsophila flowers.
Table 1. Phytotoxicity of insecticides and acaricides to gypsophila in the
a/Rated from 1 (none) to 6 (Plant dead).
IMI = marginal necrosis, TN = leaftip necrosis, SP = necrotic spots, LD = leaf
distortion, MC = marginal chlorosis, LL = lower leaves, ML = middle and lower
leaves, AL = all leaves.
Lb ai/100 gal
MN, TN, SP, LD, LL
MN, TN, LL
MN, TN, LD, ML
TN, SP, LD, ML
MN, TN, LD, SP, ML
MN, TN, SP, LD, LL
ZN, TN, LD, LL
MN, TN, LD, AL
MN, TN, SP, LD, LL
MN, TN, SP, ML
MC, TN, LL
MN, TN, SP, LD, ML