Eggplant shoot and fruit borer, Leucinodes orbonalis, is a major pest in eggplant production in South and South-East Asia. Farmers frequently spray insecticides to control it. Integrated pest management (IPM) based on mass trapping or pheromone trapping and sanitation (removal of infested shoots and fruits) has been suggested but poorly adopted. This study tested, together with farmers, combinations of IPM components that fit their farming practices, increase income, and preserve natural enemy populations. A 2-year participatory study was negotiated with these farmers, comparing (i) an untreated control, (ii) farmers’ conventional weekly spraying, with pheromone trapping either (iii) alone, or combined with (iv) trap-based biorational spraying, or (v) bi-weekly conventional insecticide spraying. Farmers rejected testing sanitation as too labor-intensive. In both years, pheromone trapping alone or combined with biorational spraying reduced fruit infestation, increased yield and income, and preserved natural enemies, showing technical efficacy at costs comparable with farmers’ practice. Replacing biorational spraying by conventional insecticides did not provide any control beyond pheromone trapping alone but reduced natural enemies. In contrast, farmers’ practice neither reduced infestation nor increased yield but reduced populations of natural enemies. Aphid and jassid populations were reduced only by biorational and conventional spraying. As farmers were reluctant to use only pheromone trapping, the addition of biorational spraying might be suitable. Discussion with farmers allowed us to understand how practical applicability of the tested IPM depends on farmers’ knowledge levels on insect biology, farmers’ desire to still use some spraying, and labor constraints to sanitation. Although technically and economically viable, the tested IPM may prove difficult to scale out, as farmers had difficulty understanding the lifecycle of Leucinodes orbonalis and the pheromone trapping mechanisms. This study is the first to disentangle the technical efficacy of pheromone-trapping-based IPM from its practical applicability for the targeted smallholder eggplant growers.
- Eggplant shoot and fruit borer
- Integrated pest management
- Participatory study
- Pheromone trap