Cooperating Against Lygus: A Four-State, Regional Approach

Research Year: 

Lygus bugs damage cotton plants by puncturing and feeding on cotton squares and young bolls. The result is reduced yields and lowered lint and seed quality. In Arizona alone, the Lygus bug has held the title of No. 1 pest in cotton for the past decade. The pest can also attack alfalfa, vegetables, seed crops and other plants. Among growers, typical control measures for Lygus have involved tank mixing combinations of broad-spectrum pesticides. That emphasis has changed to managing Lygus populations at less damaging levels using reduced risk pesticides, while still maintaining yields.

Description of Action: 

Thanks to a $2.5 million grant secured in 2007 from the USDA-Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service’s Risk Avoidance & Mitigation Program (RAMP), scientists, growers and agricultural industry representatives in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas are working together to reduce the risk of Lygus bug infestation at three levels: the individual grower’s field, the local farmscape and the wider ecosystem. The four-state effort aims to suppress the pest’s expansion and reduce its potential damage across multiple crops. The program includes co-PIs from USDA, University of California, New Mexico State University, Texas A&M and the UA as the lead institution.


The RAMP team began its first full field study in summer 2007. Based in part on the research and the guidelines developed, Arizona Cooperative Extension programs in one major cotton-producing county helped growers switch from using broadly toxic Lygus insecticides to a new, reduced-risk insecticide that offers better opportunities for natural enemy conservation. Where 100 percent of the sprays in 2006 were broad-spectrum, 52 percent were the reduced-risk type by 2007. By 2008, at least 75 percent of the growers in the area had adopted reduced-risk sprays.

Web: Arizona Cooperative Extension Cotton Insect Data

Conact Name: 
Peter Ellsworth
Contact E-mail: