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Screening of natural products in the laboratory and the field for control of pollen beetles



Pollen beetles, Meligethes spp. (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae), are among the most damaging pests of oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.). Increasing populations of pyrethroid-resistant pollen beetles coupled with the prohibition of synthetic pest control products in organic farming means that other direct control methods are needed. A laboratory study was therefore conducted to evaluate the effect of natural products, combinations of natural products and additives as well as natural and synthetic insecticides on mortality of pollen beetles. In addition, field trials under both integrated and organic production were conducted to evaluate the efficacy of six natural products, nine combinations of natural products, two synthetic insecticides (integrated-production trials only), two natural insecticides and two additives to reduce pollen beetles. The laboratory trial, using both a curative and preventive approach, showed that two of the eight natural products (lavender oil and stone meal) caused a mortality of over 98% within the first day of application. The other natural products were only partially effective compared with the untreated control. In the field trials, the natural products reduced the number of pollen beetles 1 day after application compared with the untreated control in both trial years and production systems. Promising substances were stone meal, Silico-Sec and liquid manure. Nevertheless, the efficacy was not consistent, and no effect on oilseed rape yield was observed. In spite of this, these products have the potential to control pollen beetles under field conditions with comparable effects to synthetic insecticides. Further research should therefore focus on timing and frequency of applications as well as on the formulation of the natural products to increase the persistency of the products under field conditions.