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Research Article

A Preliminary Investigation into Chemical Efficacy Against the Currant-Lettuce Aphid Nasonovia ribisnigri

Andrew G.S. Cuthbertson, James J. Mathers and Phil Northing

A preliminary laboratory study was undertaken to investigate the impact of two commonly used chemical pesticides (pirimicarb and pymetrozine) on the currant-lettuce aphid Nasonovia ribisnigri. Both chemicals had high efficacy against adult and nymph stages of the aphid. Following direct exposure to pirimicarb 98% mortality of aphid nymphs and 90% mortality of winged adults was observed after 24 h. The systemic pesticide pymetrozine caused 93% mortality of aphid nymphs after 72 h. The potential for development of integrated pest management strategies incorporating chemical pesticides for the control of N. ribisnigri is discussed.

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  How to cite this article:

Andrew G.S. Cuthbertson, James J. Mathers and Phil Northing, 2007. A Preliminary Investigation into Chemical Efficacy Against the Currant-Lettuce Aphid Nasonovia ribisnigri. International Journal of Agricultural Research, 2: 741-744.

DOI: 10.3923/ijar.2007.741.744



The currant-lettuce aphid, Nasonovia ribisnigri, is a frequently occurring pest found on lettuce crops throughout the UK and central Europe (Reinink and Dieleman, 1991; Collier, 1999; Parker et al., 2002). Although this species may transmit viruses, most damage is caused by foliage feeding with plants showing deformation and head rot (Rufingier et al., 1997). This decreases the percentage of marketable heads and can result in great financial losses for lettuce growers (Aarts et al., 1999). The confirmation of seemingly widespread pesticide resistance in UK populations of N. ribisnigri (Rufingier et al., 1997, 1999; Barber et al., 1999; Kift et al., 2004) highlights the need for alternative methods of control. The development of effective and rational integrated pest management programmes for the control of a given pest species relies on a thorough understanding of both the biology of the pest and any biocontrol agent to be introduced (Cuthbertson et al., 2003) and also the impact of chemical pesticides and fungicides on the given biocontrol agent (Cuthbertson and Murchie, 2003, 2006a, b).

This preliminary study investigates the efficacy of commonly used contact and systemic insecticides against the currant-lettuce aphid, Nasonovia ribisnigri.


Collection of Aphids
Currant-lettuce aphids for the study were obtained from an outbreak situation on an outdoor commercial lettuce farm in England during August 2006. A stock culture of the aphids was maintained in the laboratory within a perspex cage (60x60x80 cm) on lettuce plants (Lactuca sativa cv. Atlantis) following the technique of Cuthbertson et al. (2005) for the rearing of other invertebrates. The experiment was conducted within the chemical efficacy unit at the Central Science Laboratory, York, UK.

Pesticide Treatments
The two chemicals investigated in the study were as follows:

A contact insecticide, Aphox (Syngenta Crop Protection UK Ltd., active ingredient pirimicarb 50% w/w).
A systemic insecticide, Plenum WG (Syngenta Crop Protection UK Ltd., active ingredient pymetrozine 50% w/w).

Experiment 1: The Efficacy of the Contact Insecticide Pirimicarb

Ten nymphs of N. ribisnigri were placed onto filter paper within a 90 mm Petri dish and sprayed using a Potter Spraying Tower fitted with a medium atomiser. The formulation was applied at a rate of 500 g 1000 L water. After treatment a lettuce leaf (to act as a food source) was added to the Petri dish which was then sealed with parafilm and allowed to incubate at ambient temperature. Mortality was assessed after 24 h. There were ten replicates of chemical treatment and a similar number of control replicates sprayed only with water.
Ten individual adult winged aphids were also sprayed with pirimicarb using the same method outlined above and ten with water as control. Again mortality was assessed after 24 h.

Experiment 2: The Efficacy of the Systemic Insecticide Pymetrozine
Ten lettuce plants were sprayed with pymetrozine (Plenum WG at 0.397 kg ha-1 applied in 400 L water ha-1) using a Booth Sprayer fitted with Teejet UB85015 nozzles. Ten N. ribisnigri were then added to the plants. The plants were then placed inside ventilated bags to prevent the nymphs from escaping. Mortality of nymphs was assessed after 72 h. An equal number of control replicates, sprayed with water at the same application rate, were also infested with aphid nymphs. Data from both experiments underwent ANOVA where appropriate.


For all experiments mortality assessments were made using the following criteria:

Dead - no movement following mechanical stimulation with a fine camel hair brush
Alive-obviously alive or moving following mechanical stimulation with a fine camel hair brush

Experiment 1: The Efficacy of the Contact Insecticide Pirimicarb
After 24 h 98% mortality of treated nymphs was observed (Table 1). This was significantly different from the control treatment (p<0.001).

Ninety percent mortality of winged adults treated with chemical was recorded after 24 h (Table 1). Note the one adult remaining alive only moved slightly when stimulated with the brush.

Experiment 2: The Efficacy of the Systemic Insecticide Pymetrozine
After 72 h 93% mortality of nymphs on treated lettuce was recorded (Table 1). Total mortality of nymphs was obtained after a further 72 h.

Table 1: Percentage mortality of the currant-lettuce aphid Nasonovia ribisnigri following treatment with the pesticides pirimicarb and pymetrozine. Mortality assessed after 24 h following direct application of pirimicarb and after 72 h following application of the systemic pesticide pymetrozine. Control aphids treated with water


The control of currant-lettuce aphid is a major problem for UK lettuce growers (Collier, 1999). The most common method of control is by the use of chemical insecticides (Rufingier et al., 1997; Aarts et al., 1999). However, due to increasing public awareness regarding both environmental issues and the presence of potential chemical residues there is a need for lettuce growers to be continually aware of other means of invertebrate pest control. In the current study both chemicals investigated caused high mortality of both winged adult and nymphal stages of N. ribisnigri. The results from this study also indicate that there is no insecticide resistance within the aphid population tested, a scenario which is a continually increasing problem with N. ribisnigri (Rufingier et al., 1997; Barber et al., 1999; Kift et al., 2004).

Factors other than the application of chemical insecticides are also known to affect aphid population survival. The presence of natural predators such as carabid beetles, lycosid spiders and anystid mites (Kielty et al., 1999; Cuthbertson et al., 2003; Lang, 2003; Snyder and Ives, 2003; Cuthbertson and Murchie, 2004) can all impact negatively on aphid population growth. Rainfall has also been reported to affect aphid survival (Dean and Wilding, 1971; Araya and Fereres, 1991) although the effects are not conclusive and vary between species, probably as a result of preferred feeding sites providing different degrees of shelter (Vickerman and Wratten, 1979). Further work is now required to investigate the impact of the chemicals used in this trial on beneficial species. The information gained from such studies will then be used in the development of effective integrated past management schemes for the control of N. ribisnigri.


The authors thank Mr. Phil Mason and Mr. Alan Acaster (CSL) for valuable assistance and expertise in carrying out the study and also Mr Richard Natt and the CSL Horticulture team for the provision of lettuce plants.

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