Authors as Published

Vonny Barlow, Tom Kuhar & John Speese III, Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Virginia Tech

The European corn borer (ECB), Ostrinia nubilalis Hübner (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), is one of the most economically important pests of agricultural crops in much of the eastern and central United States. O. nubilalis is particularly damaging to bell (sweet) peppers (Capsicum annuum L.) because it causes direct injury to the fruit, premature fruit ripening, and fruit rot, a result of pathogens such as Erwinia carotovora entering the feeding wound. Control of O. nubilalis in peppers typically relies on multiple preventative insecticide applications. However, this can be difficult due to the small size of O. nubilalis and its propensity to quickly bore into plant tissue, often the fruit, where they are protected from chemical sprays.

The Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996 amended the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Food Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). The requirements included a new safety standard-reasonable certainty of no harm-that must be applied to all pesticides used on foods. As a result many pesticides are subject to reregistration and potential loss, which include many carbamates and organophosphate (OP) insecticides like acephate (Orthene). Although there are alternatives to OPs and carbamates, they are generally less effective and/or significantly more costly.

In bell pepper alternative insecticides are being sought that provide effective control of ECB, which include testing of some pyrethroids. There are numerous insecticides that are labeled for ECB control in pepper. However not all of them have proven to be effective. We have listed products that researchers have tested (Fig. 1) and their overall effectiveness against ECB.

ProductRateInsecticide ClassCommon NameControlUsage/Season
Orthene 9712-16 oz/AOrganophosphateAcephateExcellent32 oz/A (season max.)
Avaunt 30WDG*3.5 oz/APyrazolineIndoxacarbExcellent14 oz/A (season max.)
SpinTor 2SC6 fl oz/ASpinosadSpinosadExcellentFull season
Intrepid 2F8-16 fl oz/AInsect growth regulatorMethoxyfenozideExcellentFull season
Mustang Max4 fl oz/APyrethroidZeta-cypermethrinGoodFull season
Baythroid 2EC1.6-1.8 fl oz/APyrethroidCyfluthrinGoodFull season
Warrior 1 EC2.56-3.84 fl oz/APyrethroidLambda-cyhalothrinGoodFull season
Confirm 2F8-16 fl oz/AInsect growth regulatorTebufenozideFair64 fl oz/A (season max.)
Lannate LV48 fl oz/ACarbamateMethomylFairFull season
Ambush 25W12.8 oz/APyrethroidPermethrinFairFull season
Asana XL5.8-9.6 fl oz/APyrethroidEsfenvalerateFairFull season
*Although not registered for ECB control this product is registered for use in bell pepper

Pepper growers should start a preventative spray program for ECB when small pepper fruit is present on plants. On the Eastern Shore near Painter, VA, ECB pressures are high enough to warrant 8 sprays of insecticide per season and may not be necessary in your area. A word of caution to growers is that pyrethroids should not be used if Beet armyworm is a problem because pyrethroids offer little or no control. Also, Green peach aphid flairs after repeated pyrethroid use and should be considered.


Originally printed in Virginia Vegetable, Small Fruit and Specialty Crops – September-October 2004.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

Publication Date

July 29, 2009