How to Manage Pests

UC Pest Management Guidelines

Pistachio

Navel Orangeworm

Scientific name: Amyelois transitella

(Reviewed 2/07, updated 2/09)

In this Guideline:


DESCRIPTION OF THE PEST

Young worms are reddish orange and later appear cream colored, although their diet can influence coloration. They have a crescent-shaped sclerite on each side of the second body segment behind the head. As the worm matures, the head becomes reddish brown. Adult moths are about an inch long, have predominately gray forewings with black markings, and a snoutlike projection at the front of the head. Females begin egg laying about 2 nights after emergence. Eggs are laid on mummy nuts or on new crop nuts.

DAMAGE

The navel orangeworm feeds on a variety of fruits and nuts and is the most damaging caterpillar in pistachio. Almonds, figs, pomegranates, and walnuts are also major hosts. The pistachio nut is susceptible to infestation as soon as hull split occurs. The first signs of an infestation are small, pinhole-size entrances into the nutmeat. As worms grow in size, the entire nut is fed upon and extensive amounts of webbing and frass are present. Infested pistachios will split early and can usually be seen by mid-July.

MANAGEMENT

Navel orangeworm is managed by the removal of unharvested nuts in fall as well as the destruction of any nuts left on the soil surface. Insecticide sprays aimed at the third generation eggs and early harvest are also components of a good management program.

Biological Control

There are several parasites such as Goniozus legneri and Copidosomopsis plethorica that can reduce damage from navel orangeworm. Goniozus legneri is commercially available for release and serves as an alternative control in organically managed orchards.

Cultural Control

Navel orangeworm is a scavenger pest that survives from one season to the next on unharvested nuts left on the tree or on the ground. Because infestations of citrus flat mite and mealybugs can increase the number of nuts remaining on the tree after harvest, good management of these pests is necessary for good navel orangeworm management.

In almonds it has been demonstrated that the removal and destruction of nuts that remain on the tree after harvest can dramatically reduce infestations in the next crop. Removal and destruction of these nuts is also critical in pistachio for navel orangeworm control. Although early nut harvest is more difficult to accomplish in pistachio orchards, harvest nuts as soon as possible to reduce exposure to egg-laying female moths.

Nuts on the orchard floor should also be destroyed because navel orangeworms have been found surviving, during the summer months, on last season's nuts left on the orchard floor. Recent studies of winter sanitation practices for pistachio, including discing mummies on the orchard floor, however, have found them to be more costly and less effective than in almond orchards.

Organically Acceptable Methods

Biological and cultural controls are acceptable for use on organically certified crops, including releases of the parasite Goniozus legneri and sprays of the Entrust formulation of spinosad.

Monitoring and Treatment Decisions

Generally only the third generation of navel orangeworm is treated in pistachio; timing of this treatment is critical because once the worm is in the nut, it cannot be controlled with insecticides. Use egg traps baited with a mixture of pressed almond meal and almond oil (3 to 5%) and degree-day calculations to time the treatment.

Hang traps in the orchard in spring and check twice a week for egg-laying activity. Use a minimum of four traps per block. Egg-laying peaks will be observed in May and from late June to early July, signaling the first and second generations. If navel orangeworm populations are low during the first two generations, add another trap to each of the four trapping locations to increase trapping effectiveness. During late July examine the traps every 2 days. If egg laying increases on two consecutive readings, this signals the beginning of the laying of third generation eggs. Begin degree-day calculations when the first increase of third generation egg deposition is noted. Use a lower threshold of 55°F and an upper threshold of 94°F". Spray at 400 degree-days from the beginning of third-generation egg laying. If a large amount of acreage must be covered, begin to spray at 300 degree-days.

Common name Amount/Acre** R.E.I.+ P.H.I.+
(trade name)   (hours) (days)

  Calculate impact of pesticide on air quality
The following materials are listed in order of usefulness in an IPM program, taking into account efficacy. When choosing a pesticide, also consider information relating to environmental impact. Not all registered pesticides are listed. Always read label of product being used.
 
A. METHOXYFENOZIDE
  (Intrepid) 2F 12–24 fl oz 4 14
  MODE OF ACTION GROUP NUMBER1: 18A
  COMMENTS: Apply at the beginning of egg hatch. Do not apply more than 64 fl oz/acre/season.
 
B. BIFENTHRIN*
  (Brigade) WSB 8–32 oz 12 7
  MODE OF ACTION GROUP NUMBER1: 3
 
C. PERMETHRIN*
  (Pounce) 3.2EC 8–16 oz 12 0
  (Ambush) 25WP 12.8–25.6 oz 12 0
  MODE OF ACTION GROUP NUMBER1: 3
  COMMENTS: No more than 0.8 lb a.i/acre/season for 25W formulation and 1.6 lb a.i./acre/season for 3.2 EC formation.
 
D. PHOSMET
  (Imidan) 70W 4 lb 72 14
  MODE OF ACTION GROUP NUMBER1: 1B
  COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 5.66 lb/acre/season as a foliar spray. Do not apply after hull split reaches 10%.
 
E. SPINETORAM
  (Delegate) WG 6–7 oz 4 14
  MODE OF ACTION GROUP NUMBER1: 5
 
F. SPINOSAD
  (Entrust)# 1.25–3 oz 4 14
  MODE OF ACTION GROUP NUMBER1: 5
 
G. BACILLUS THURINGIESIS ssp. KURSTAKI#
  (various products) Label rates 4 0
  MODE OF ACTION GROUP NUMBER1: 11.B2
 
H. GONIOZUS LEGNERI# 2,500-5,000
  COMMENTS: An alternative in organically managed orchards.
 
** Unless otherwise noted, apply with enough water to ensure adequate coverage.
+ Restricted entry interval (R.E.I.) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (P.H.I.) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
* Permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use.
# Acceptable for organically grown produce.
1 Rotate chemicals with a different mode-of-action Group number, and do not use products with the same mode-of-action Group number more than twice per season to help prevent the development of resistance. For example, the organophosphates have a Group number of 1B; chemicals with a 1B Group number should be alternated with chemicals that have a Group number other than 1B. Mode of action Group numbers are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee). For additional information, see their Web site at http://www.irac-online.org/.
Not applicable.

[Precautions]

PUBLICATION

[UC Peer Reviewed]

UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Pistachio
UC ANR Publication 3461

Insects and Mites

  • W. J. Bentley, Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier
  • R. H. Beede, UC Cooperative Extension, Kings County
  • K. M. Daane, Biological Control, UC Berkeley/Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier
  • D. R. Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension, Kern County
Acknowledgment for contributions to Insects and Mites:
  • R. E. Rice, Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier

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