Imagine a tarnished plant bug waltzing into one of your fields and sitting down to feast on a nice, succulent cotton leaf. After a little while, he decides he really isn't hungry after all and stops feeding.

Rather than having another meal later in the day, he sits there and wonders why those green leaves and square just don't appeal to him any more. Within a few days, the plant bug starves to death, looking at an abundance of food all around him.

Welcome to the new world of Carbine, FMC's new insecticide that recently received an EPA registration for use on plant bugs and aphids in cotton.

Carbine, which has received state registrations in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, is from a new class of chemistry called pyridinecarboxamide that has a different mode of action from the neonicotinoids, organophosphate or pyrethroid insecticides commonly used against lygus or plant bugs and aphids.

“The new mode of action of Carbine causes rapid feeding cessation in plant bugs, cotton fleahoppers and aphids resulting in starvation while protecting the crop from damage,” says Yemel Ortega, FMC's product manager for Carbine.

Ortega, speaking at a press briefing for Carbine at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio, said that Carbine begins to work within as little as 30 minutes and offers excellent residual control of aphids and plant bugs. It also has shown activity on stink bugs in field research trials.”

“Carbine is a new way to maximize cotton yields,” he said. “Changing the behavior of the insect so that it does not reduce yields or quality can be more effective than focusing on killing the insect pest. When feeding damage is stopped, the immediate death of the insect pest becomes irrelevant.”

Carbine is active on the A-type potassium channel of the insect's nervous system. Within 15 to 30 minutes after ingesting Carbine, target insects begin displaying increased antenna movement and staggered, drunken-like walking and have difficulty righting themselves.

“Most importantly, they lose the ability to feed, which is irreversible,” says Craig Heim, product development manager for Carbine. “That's because plant bugs and other target pests exposed to Carbine can no longer insert the stylus into plant tissue.”

University researchers have shown significant increases in lint yields in tests on plant bugs in both the Western and Mid-South states, according to Rusty Mitchell, Delta technical support manager for FMC.

“We've seen increases of 500 to 600 pounds of lint above the untreated check in the Far West and 100 to 120 pounds in the Mid-South,” he said, “and of 30 to 40 pounds over the standard treatments for plant bugs and aphids in the Mid-South and Southeast. It protects the crop from damage faster than other products where the insects continue feeding until they die.”

When FMC first started looking at the flonicamids, researchers were concentrating on aphids, he said. But the longer they worked on the product the more evidence they saw of the impact it could have on plant bugs, which have become the No. 1 cotton insect pest for many growers.

Besides stopping feeding by the insect pests, Carbine also appears to provide residual control of late arrivals of the pests — up to 14 to 21 days for aphids.

“Carbine's best fit may be in the first four weeks of squaring,” says Mitchell. “That's the time when growers would rather not use the harsher OPs because of concerns about wiping out the beneficial insects.”

“Carbine will be a key partner in Insecticide Resistance Management and IPM programs as it provides a novel mode of action with minimal impact to honeybees and other beneficial insects,” says Ortega.

Mitchell says FMC expects registrations for Carbine in other cotton-producing states in the next two to three months, in time for the 2006 use season. California registration may take somewhat longer.