Cooperative Extension Service
The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Your source for pest management and pesticide news

May 2002/Volume 25, no. 5

As summer approaches, many people curse mosquitoes and reach for the pesticide or plug in the bug zapper

According to a recent conference in Washington, herbicides are critical to the future of American agriculture

If you have a food crop that is not included in any EPA crop grouping, it is time to find your "orphan" a home
The EPA has granted "Reduced Risk" status to an herbicide, a fungicide, and an insecticide
The EPA granted full registration to harpin protein
The EPA granted registration to an insecticide chalk to control roaches, ants and crickets

Scientists report that atrazine interferes with a key sexual hormone of frogs, turning some of the males into hermaphrodites
Scientists have found a strong link between Eastern tent caterpillars and an epidemic of foal abortions in Kentucky last year
A national Agriculture Health Study is underway to investigate links between agriculture practices and health effects
An Agro-Security/Terrorism Work Conference is scheduled
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the most frequently detected compounds in U.S. streams include fecal steroids

Seven (soon to be six)* companies rule the world of pest management
A major chain of garden centers in Canada will stop selling conventional pesticides

The EPA Office of Research and Development has a $3 million research initiative in the President's budget for FY 03.

It looks like the end for chlorpyrifos-methyl (Reldan).

IPM in Your Neighborhood

As summer approaches, many people curse mosquitoes and reach for the pesticide or plug in the bug zapper. In most cases, however, you can take more effective (and less risky) actions. Pesticides carry risks to both humans and the environment, and bug zappers are not very effective against mosquitoes (and they may rain vaporized bug guts down on your food).

IPM is based upon the biology/ecology of the pest. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water after digesting a blood meal. The eggs pass through a larval stage and a pupal stage before the adults emerge from the water. The aquatic stage lasts about four to seven days, depending on the temperature. Adult mosquitoes are not strong flyers. They usually do not fly more than 300-500 yards from the site where they emerged from the water.

Use these facts to devise a mosquito IPM program for your neighborhood. Unless you live near standing water, the mosquitoes that bite you come from the nearby area. In many cases, you are providing the water for mosquitoes to reproduce. If you can eliminate this water, you can greatly reduce the mosquito populations. Common mosquito breeding areas include clogged gutters, birdbaths, toys that collect water, pans under flowerpots, and tire swings. Prevent water from collecting, and change bird bath water every four to five days. If you have an ornamental pond, look for products with Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti). Bti is a disease that kills mosquito larvae; it is harmless to people, pets and the environment. Vectobac and Bactimos are product names; ask for it at your local garden center or look on the Internet.

If your neighbors live close by, you will have to enlist their cooperation for a mosquito program to be effective. You can find a brochure to help organize your neighborhood at our web site,

Federal News

According to a recent conference in Washington (sponsored by CropLife America/RISE), herbicides are critical to the future of American agriculture. Leonard Gianessi of the National Center for Food & Ag Policy reported that without herbicides -- the most widely used class of pesticides in the United States -- crop production and yield would drop, pristine habitat would have to be plowed under for crop acreage, additional cultivation would result in more soil erosion, and ultimately the United States would become dependent on imports -- meaning the end of a viable U.S. crop market, with consumers forced to pay higher prices for less abundant and less nutritious food. The USDA estimates that without herbicides, carrot production would drop by 48 percent, rice by 38 percent, tomatoes by 36 percent, strawberries by 30 percent and cotton by 27 percent. Gianessi's full report, Benefits of Pesticides in U.S. Crop Production, will be available this fall.

The most important point of this report is increased dependency on food imports. Many people do not recognize the danger of that situation, even though U.S. dependency on foreign oil creates a multitude of problems.

News You Can Use

If you have a food crop that is not included in any EPA crop grouping, it is time to find your "orphan" a home. The EPA groups most food crops into broader categories like "grain & cereal" or "leafy vegetables." In many cases, pesticide regulatory decisions are made on the basis of a group rather than individual commodities. Grouping can have important implications pesticide registrations. However, some crops have been overlooked, and these commodities may be left out of important decisions that determine which pesticides are available to growers. The IR-4 program wants growers to propose a crop group for any "orphans." You may propose to include them in an existing group or propose a new group.

You can easily determine if your crop is an orphan by visiting this web site, Obviously, you do not need to check for crops like corn or wheat, but you may want to have a look if you grow a relatively small commodity like many fruits and vegetables. If you need to make a proposal regarding an orphan commodity, contact George Markle at

If you produce a minor crop (ornamental or food, but not animals), IR-4 can be extremely valuable. You can learn about IR-4 at

If you are interested in herbicide resistance, here is a useful resource. An international group of weed scientists has produced an international survey of herbicide-resistant weeds, including 258 biotypes and 156 species (94 dicots and 62 monocots). The data fields can be searched by nomenclature (both common and scientific), location, or herbicide mode of action. You will also find recent publications on herbicide resistance and links to other materials. It is all on the web at

The EPA has granted "Reduced Risk" status to an herbicide, a fungicide, and an insecticide. Mesotrione (reduced risk status for use on sweet corn) is in the novel triketone group of herbicides and should help with IPM and resistance management. Mesotrione was previously registered in 2001 as a conventional “reduced-risk” herbicide for use on field corn. Cyazonfamid (reduced-risk status for potatoes, tomatoes, cucurbits, and imported grapes) is a locally systemic fungicide from a new chemical class based on the cyanimidazole moiety; it may be an alternative to the older B2 fungicide chemistries. Dinotefuran (reduced-risk and OP alternative status for cotton, leafy vegetables, ornamentals, turf, and public health uses) is a neonicotiod for control of chewing and sucking insects. Its mode of action is reported to be unique, and the registrant does not expect cross-resistance between dinotefuran and other neonicotinoid pesticides. (OPMP Newest News, 4-26-02)

The EPA granted full registration to harpin protein as a broad-spectrum fungicide and yield enhancer on all food commodities, turf and ornamentals. Harpin is one of a class of proteins produced in nature by certain bacterial plant pathogens and acts by eliciting a natural protective response in the plant that makes it resistant to a wide range of fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases. In addition, the product also aids in the suppression of certain insect, mite, and nematode pests, and enhances plant growth. The product is produced commercially by genetic alteration of a nutritionally deficient strain of E. coliwith DNA from the plant pathogen Erwinia amylovora, which encodes harpin protein. (OPMP Newest News, 4-12-02)

The EPA granted registration to an insecticide chalk to control roaches, ants and crickets. The chalk is a contact pesticide and applied as a narrow band around baseboards, moldings, around plumbing and other utility installations in residential, commercial and institutional and transportation facilities. The Agency is requiring the company to add a bittering agent; child resistant packaging is also required to make the sticks appear more unlike chalk. And for the first time of which I am aware, the registrant has been required to label the product also in Chinese and Spanish because of its potential use in Asian and Hispanic communities.

I am not happy with this decision. When my children were little, anything that could write was "chalk" or "pencil." They could not care less if it did not look like chalk. I have not seen this new product, but the illegal insecticidal chalks looked like ordinary blackboard chalk. Child resistant packaging is not a bad idea, but many children old enough to write with chalk can overcome child resistance. I still remember my mother asking my children to "come open Grandma's medicine" for her.

Health and the Environment

Scientists report that atrazine interferes with a key sexual hormone of frogs, turning some of the males into hermaphrodites. Additionally, the effect seems to occur at a concentration that is substantially lower than the current EPA standard (3 ppb) for atrazine in drinking water. At concentrations as low as 0.1 ppb, exposed male frogs developed extra testes or ovaries, and the sex hormone testosterone was reduced up to 90 percent. The researchers suggest that atrazine may be a key factor in the recently detected decline of amphibians worldwide. (Science News, 4-20-02)

Atrazine has been used for more than 30 years, and it is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the United States. The herbicide has already caused some concern because it has been frequently detected in drinking water, particularly in the Midwest. According to USDA-NASS, 54 million pounds of atrazine were applied to U.S. corn in 2000 ( Atrazine is also commonly used in many other crops and in home lawns.

Understandably, the people who depend on atrazine are concerned about the amphibian report. Atrazine is already under intense regulatory scrutiny because of its recurring presence in drinking water. The Triazine Network is a large coalition formed in response to the EPA initiation of a Special Review for the triazine herbicides, and they report significant uncertainties regarding the relationship between chemical exposures and reproductive effects in amphibians. (Pesticide & Tox. Chem. News, 4-22-02)

It is easy to jump to the conclusion that atrazine is causing the amphibian die-off, but it is dangerous to establish regulatory policy on the basis of a small study. Part of the Food Quality Protection Act is based on a study that was later withdrawn because other labs could not replicate the results. The study was discredited, but the regulation remains. Initial reports that pollen from Bt corn could kill monarch butterfly larvae did not translate into a similar real-world effect.

If atrazine does cause reproductive anomalies in frogs, it will not be difficult or time-consuming to replicate these studies. Significant regulatory action will be imperative if atrazine is harming amphibian populations at typical environmental exposures. After all, a great many animals use testosterone to separate the boys from the girls. On the positive side, I have noticed that I do not have to shave as often now that we moved next door to a cornfield, and I thought my soprano days were gone forever.

There is another lesson to be repeated based on the atrazine reports. MINIMIZE your exposure to all pesticides. The common formulations of atrazine carry the signal word, CAUTION. Many people handle CAUTION pesticides carelessly because they know this signal word indicates pesticides in the lowest toxicity class. The signal word only provides information about effects that take place in a short time, like death, eye injury, or skin corrosion. The signal word provides no information about developmental effects or other potential long-term risks.

Scientists have found a strong link between Eastern tent caterpillars and an epidemic of foal abortions in Kentucky last year. Thousands of foals were aborted, and hundreds more died shortly after birth. Needless to say, this epidemic caused tremendous anxiety in Kentucky; scientists and veterinarians began to look for the cause. They tested the link between the abortions and the caterpillars by exposing pregnant mares to large numbers of Eastern tent caterpillars and/or their frass (that's poop to you non-entomologist types). Twice as many mares aborted when they were exposed to the caterpillars or the frass.

No one knows how the caterpillars or the frass could have this effect, but the evidence of a link is pretty strong. Additionally, the mind immediately leaps to possible effects on other pregnant mammals. The results are still preliminary, but clearly this avenue of research demands more attention. (

Kentucky scientists are continuing the investigation, and they are asking for help from other states. Many parts of Georgia have had abnormally high populations of Eastern tent caterpillars this year. If anyone has noticed unexplained foal abortions, they should e-mail Dan Potter at

A national Agriculture Health Study is underway to investigate links between agriculture practices and health effects. The collaborative study of more than 90,000 pesticide applicators is expected to last more than ten years. The results will have important implications for EPA regulation of pesticides. The highlights of published results, questionnaires, chemicals examined, fact sheets for pesticide applicators and the agricultural extension community, and plans for future studies are on the web (OPMP Newest News, 4-26-02)

An Agro-Security/Terrorism Work Conference is scheduled for May 23, 2002, at the Georgia Center in Athens. Since the September terrorist attacks, we have recognized a need to pay more attention to the security of food and water. The conference will feature knowledgeable speakers from both state agencies and the university system. One of the key components of this conference will be a needs assessment process in which participants will provide input on methods and resources needed to adequately prepare the public to identify potential problems and how to respond properly in the event of an emergency. The conference is expected to last from 9:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the most frequently detected compounds in U.S. streams include fecal steroids (no, I don't know what they are, and I may not want to know), cholesterol, insect repellants, caffeine, antimicrobial disinfectants, fire retardants, and detergent metabolites. The source of these contaminants is not difficult to guess. People dump them down the drain or flush them away. The detection of contaminants does not mean they are causing harm, but identification of foreign compounds does provide direction for further investigation. For further information, see or


The EPA is interested in projects emphasizing efforts to promote reading pesticide labels before use; education and implementation related to School and Daycare Integrated Pest Management (IPM); education of pesticide dealers and cooperatives to help prevent illegal agricultural pesticide sales; and/or, educating legal users of agricultural pesticides in preventing misuse and ensuring pesticide security. They are particularly interested in two specific issues: 1) projects related to School and Daycare IPM in rural low-income settings; and, 2) pesticide educational projects concentrating on preventing illegal diversion of agricultural fumigants. If you want a piece of this pie, hurry. The proposals must be received by May 15. Only one grant will be funded for $50,000. If you want to take a chance, contact

The EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program Regional Initiative Grants are also available for any project to reduce the risks and use of pesticides in agricultural and non-agricultural settings in the U.S. The EPA has nearly $500,000 in this pot, and grants will be awarded up to $40,000. Proposals for less than $20,000 will receive lower priority (there are some weird rules about awarding all of the money). The due date is May 25, and you can find the details at

Seven (soon to be six)* companies rule the world of pest management. We say pest management now instead of pesticides because many of these companies also own global seed companies and are players in biotechnology. Here are the sales data from 2001.

----- Company ----- Sales (in billions of US$) Change since 2000
Syngenta (Swiss) $5.385 -8.5%
Aventis CropScience (Fr.) $3.842 0.05
Monsanto (U.S.) $3.755 -3.3%
BASF (Ger.) $3.105 0.394
Dow AgroSciences (U.S.) $2.612 0.113
Bayer (Ger.) $2.418 0.074
DuPont (U.S.) $1.917 -4.6%

*Bayer is expected to buy Aventis CropScience (formerly Rhone-Poulenc which was formerly Hoechst/AgrEvo)

(Agrow: World Crop Protection News, March 1, 2002; March 15, 2002 and March 29, 2002, via PANUPS, 4-19-02)

A major chain of garden centers in Canada will stop selling conventional pesticides. By next spring, the company will only sell organic alternatives to the pesticides they sell now. It was not clear how the company would define "organic," and I am unfamiliar with Canadian laws on this point.

The company said the decision was a response to overwhelming consumer demand to eliminate cosmetic use of pesticides. In this situation, "cosmetic" pesticides are used to keep the lawn and garden looking good. Canadian public action groups having been pushing for a regulatory ban on the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. (From Adams Technology Systems, 3-13-02)

I find this debate very interesting because it forces consumers to weigh the risk of pesticides against a "perfect" lawn. Most pesticides do pose some risk to health or the environment; we have seen many, many cases where home applicators have exacerbated the risks by using pesticides irresponsibly. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, more pesticides are found in urban surface water than in surface water around agricultural areas. And there is no doubt that the greatest pesticide risk to children is around the home.

An attractive lawn does add value to a home, but it is not a necessity of life like food. The concept of a modern lawn is a relatively recent phenomenon. Without pesticides, lawnmowers, weed-eaters, edgers, etc., a weed-free, short-grass lawn is not feasible for most households. In my opinion, very few people would trade in their pesticides and lawn equipment in return for reduced pesticide risks, cleaner air, and a quieter neighborhood.

Ironically, the public is more much likely to protest the use of pesticides for legitimate agricultural purposes. I personally would love to see the public reaction to a ban on the use of pesticides to control weeds or insects in the lawn or garden. I do not advocate such a ban, but it would be educational for the public to understand how agricultural producers feel. Can you imagine the public outcry if Roundup or Weed n Feed were banned for home and garden use?


The EPA Office of Research and Development has a $3 million research initiative in the President's budget for FY 03. The areas for research emphasis will be 1) allergenicity, 2) non-target species, 3) gene transfer, and 4) pest resistance. Some of the funds will go for outside grants and some to support ORD research and researchers. (OPMP Newest News, 4-12-02)


It looks like the end for chlorpyrifos-methyl (Reldan). The EPA received notices from Dow AgroSciences LLC and Gustafson LLC for voluntary cancellation of their chlorpyrifos-methyl manufacturing use and liquid formulation products. These actions further implement an agreement by the registrants, reached as the chlorpyrifos-methyl TRED was being completed in 2001, to voluntarily cancel all products containing this organophosphate stored grain insecticide, rather than develop the additional data needed to support its continued registration. Chlorpyrifos-methyl dust formulation products were canceled effective December 31, 2001. A 30-day public comment period on the manufacturing use and liquid formulation products closes on May 24. The FR notice, TRED document, risk assessments, and other information about chlorpyrifos-methyl are available on the EPA website at (OPMP Newest News, 4-26-02)

A number of people were surprised by this decision because there are very few pesticide options for controlling insects in stored grains. The registration for another major alternative (aluminum phosphide) hangs by a thread because several people have been killed in misuse incidents. On the other hand, chlorpyrifos-methyl is an organophosphate, and low levels of the chemical were being detected in a large number of flour samples. Maybe the writing was on the wall.

The appearance of any trade name in this newsletter is not intended to endorse that product nor convey negative implications of unmentioned products.

Dear Readers:

The Georgia Pest Management Newsletter is a monthly journal for extension agents, extension specialists, and others interested in pest management news. It provides information on legislation, regulations, and other issues affecting pest management in Georgia.

Do not regard the information in this newsletter as pest management recommendations. Consult the Georgia Pest Control Handbook, other extension publications, or appropriate specialists for this information.

Your input in this newsletter is encouraged.

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Department of Entomology
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Paul Guillebeau, Associate Professor & Extension Entomologist