Effect of Piperonyl Butoxide on the Toxicity of Four Classes of Insecticides to Navel Orangeworm (Amyelois transitella) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae)

Mark Demkovich, Catherine E. Dana, Joel P. Siegel, May R. Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Amyelois transitella (Walker) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), the navel orangeworm, is a highly polyphagous economic pest of almond, pistachio, and walnut crops in California. Increasing demand for these crops and their rising economic value has resulted in substantial increases of insecticide applications to reduce damage to acceptable levels. The effects of piperonyl butoxide (PBO), a methylenedioxyphenyl compound that can act as a synergist by inhibiting cytochrome P450-mediated detoxification on insecticide metabolism by A. transitella, were examined in a series of feeding bioassays with first-instar A. transitella larvae from a laboratory strain. PBO, however, can have a variety of effects on metabolism, including inhibition of glutathione-S-transferases and esterases and induction of P450s. In our study, PBO synergized the toxicity of acetamiprid, λ-cyhalothrin, and spinosad, suggesting possible involvement of P450s in their detoxification. In contrast, PBO interacted antagonistically with the organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos, reducing its toxicity, an effect consistent with inhibition of P450-mediated bioactivation of this pesticide. The toxicity of the anthranilic diamide insecticide chlorantraniliprole was not altered by PBO, suggestive of little or no involvement of P450-mediated metabolism in its detoxification. Because a population of navel orangeworm in Kern County, CA, has already acquired resistance to the pyrethroid insecticide bifenthrin through enhanced P450 activity, determining the effect of adding a synergist such as PBO on detoxification of all insecticide classes registered for use in navel orangeworm management can help to develop rotation practices that may delay resistance acquisition or to implement alternative management practices where resistance is likely to evolve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2753-2760
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of economic entomology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Amyelois transitella
  • cytochrome P450 monooxygenase
  • detoxification
  • insecticide
  • piperonyl butoxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Insect Science

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