Response of foliage- and ground-dwelling arthropods to insecticide application: early step for cotton IPM in the Brazilian semiarid

Denner M. Potin, Anderson V. A. Machado, Jacques H. C. Delabie, Ivan C. F. Martins, Mary E. A. Whitehouse, Jorge B. Torres*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Foliage- and ground-dwelling arthropods provide ecosystem services, including decomposition and biological control of agricultural pests. Despite this, there is little information on the ground-dwelling arthropod community associated with cotton crops and about their role under pest control practices. Identifying these communities and their preservation would assist smallholder cotton growers in considering an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to pest control. In this context, the strategy of using selective- or broad-spectrum insecticides (both applied only once the pests reached an economic threshold) was assessed using field plots set up within non-Bt cotton structured refuge of a grower field measuring the response of both foliage- and ground-dwelling arthropods and yield. The abundance, species richness, dominance indices, and foliage-dwelling predators and pest species and ground-dwelling predators and decomposers were compared between untreated and insecticide treatments, as was the crop yield. In response to pest monitoring, insecticides were applied 5 and 3 times during the 2018 and 2020 growing seasons, respectively. In 2018 and 2020, 16 and 12 foliage-dwelling predator arthropods and 43 and 47 ground-dwelling predator and decomposer arthropods were collected, respectively. During the 2018 season, broad-spectrum insecticide applications reduced the abundance of foliage-dwelling predators, but had no significant impact on the ground-dwelling community. Principal response curves (PRC) indicated a negative impact of broad-spectrum insecticides only on the foliage-dwelling community, particularly among the Formicidae and Araneae species. Insecticide applications in the 2020 season were only required at the end of the crop season and did not significantly influence the foliage- or ground-dwelling communities. The selective insecticide regime yielded as well as the broad-spectrum insecticide regimes higher yielded than untreated plots. These results demonstrated to the small landholders engaging conservation biological control for the first time, the advantages of an IPM approach to pest management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108308
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Early online date14 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


  • Cotton pests
  • Ground-dwelling predators
  • Insecticide selectivity
  • Low input crop system
  • Semiarid cropping


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