Pesticide Use on NuMex/Anaheim Varieties

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Q: Hi Dave,

I have a question regarding pesticide use on NewMex/Anaheim varieties.  I applied Ortho’s "Bug-Be-Gone" (permethrin based) powder last night and noticed that the label indicated that it could be used on peppers, but only "Bell" type peppers were listed as approved.  I contacted Ortho for verification this morning and I got the standard, "If it’s not on the label, the EPA has not approved its use on your vegetable and therefore we cannot recommend that you use it."  Numerous hours of research have yielded little information.  I see that you recommend pyrethrin and carbaryl based insecticides, but can you tell me if you have heard of any adverse reactions from the use of permethrins on "hot" peppers?  Do you know if permethrins are systemic?  In reading the Sevin Dust website, it mentions that carbaryl does not penetrate the plant membrane.  I’m wondering if permethrins DO penetrate the membrane of pepper plants, but not "Bell" types for some reason?  I’m going to stop using this product, but I’m concerned about residual insecticide concentrations in my pepper harvest.  I’ve applied this product twice this season and I expect that I won’t be harvesting for at least another month–perhaps two.  I’m hoping that any residuals will be metabolized, but I’d REALLY appreciate any advice you can give me.  Thanks so much for your time!

–Jason Heiman


A: Hello Jason:

I am not a pest control expert or a chemist, so this is just my opinion.  Botanically speaking Bell peppers and NuMex varieties are the same species, just different cultivated varieties, so I seriously doubt that there’s any difference regarding the application of pesticides.  The website at North Carolina State University states regarding Bell peppers:  "Permethrins (Pounce, Ambush) is applied an average of 4.9 times on an estimated 33% of the acreage at an average rate of 0.2 pound of active ingredient per acre (4). Total applied active ingredient is 1,000 pounds."  The fact that the pesticide has to be applied 5 times during a growing season indicates that it is not systemic but topical.  I doubt that it penetrates the membrane of any chile plants.  I have heard of no adverse reactions from the use of permethrins, which as I understand it, are synthetic pyrethrins.  I wouldn’t worry about residual effects, based on the application in North Carolina, which must have USDA approval for use.  Since it’s not systemic and there are no fruits yet, my guess is that your plants are safe.


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