Over the years, caterpillars’ voracious appetite for many of our fruit and vegetable crops has spurred growers to seek out effective means of management. The naturally occurring soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has been the most widely used bioinsecticide for controlling lepidoptera pest populations for decades. Bt’s popularity is attributed to its track record of effectively controlling caterpillars, remarkable environmental and mammalian safety profile, and for specifically targeting only the pest while preserving beneficial species.
A member of BioSafe Systems’ suite of sustainable and OMRI-Listed insecticides, BT NOW is a remarkably effective lepidopteran pest control solution. Utilizing a novel strain of the Bt bacterium, BT NOW halts the pest’s ability to feed within minutes. Possessing several unique features useful in agronomy, BT NOW is a truly valuable tool that makes those hungry, hungry caterpillars A LOT less hungry.
BT NOW and Btk
The key to understanding how BT NOW works is to first understand the unique properties of Bacillus thuringiensis. BT NOW’s active ingredient, Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki (Btk), exclusively targets lepidopteran larvae (i.e. caterpillars or ‘worms’). This bacterium produces spores and proteins containing cry toxins. Activated by the alkaline environment found in the lepidoptera’s digestive system, these toxins promptly bind to special gut receptors, paralyzing the mouthparts and halting caterpillar feeding within minutes. This exclusivity to lepidopteran pests allows growers to apply Btk products without harming beneficials, including pollinators. This particular feature is especially useful for early season caterpillar infestations, allowing beneficial species populations to proliferate, further augmenting pest management on the crop. With low resistance potential, Btk is also often used in conventional and organic operations to target lepidoptera populations that run the risk of developing resistance to certain classes of chemical insecticides. The most effective IPM programs incorporate Btk products that are rotated with other modes of action. Furthermore, Btk provides critical caterpillar management until harvest (0-day PHI) and has no maximum residue limits (MRLs).
Black Cutworm, Agrotis ipsilon
Not all Bt products are the same…
There are multiple subspecies of Bt with specific activity on different orders of insects. Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki is specific to lepidoptera. BT NOW effectively suppresses many lepidopteran pests, such as beet army worm, diamondback moth, imported cabbageworm, and codling moth. These highly destructive pests in fruit and vegetable production are quickly incapacitated by BT NOW’s unique blend of cry toxins. Furthermore, BT NOW’s easy-to-use and OMRI-Listed, water-based formulation is stabilized with UV inhibitors for extended performance, includes a natural organic ingredient to improve adherence to plant tissue, and is formulated with feeding stimulants to increase insect uptake of BT NOW.