Sustainable management of a global pest

Diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella), a ubiquitous pest of Brassica (cabbage) crops, costs the world economy an estimated $US4-5 billion annually. The moth is typically mismanaged with insecticides, leading to the rapid development of resistance and the destruction of natural enemy complexes that suppress pest populations. Subsequent population outbreaks lead to even more insecticide misuse.

UQ-led ACIAR-funded collaborative research with local farmers, government agencies and researchers in China, North Korea, Indonesia and Pacific Island nations has improved management of the insect.

There are two critical aspects to the strategy: preservation of endemic natural enemy complexes and rational use of biologically derived insecticides to ensure their longevity. Such products are not universally available and partnership with the commercial sector in Fiji and Tonga has made affordable formulations accessible to farmers where they have displaced broad-spectrum hazardous chemicals in the market and are sold as part of an insecticide resistance management plan to preserve their effectiveness

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