Influence of Rainfall on Insecticide Efficacy

June 16, 2014 10:00 AM
Influence of Rainfall on Insecticide Efficacy

How long before a rain do you need to spray insecticide to get acceptable control? Here are some factors that can impact insecticide performance

factors that can impact the performance of an insecticide during rainy weather - See more at:

By Jeff Gore, Research and Extension Entomologist, Anus Catchot, Extension Entomologist and Don Cook, Research Entomologist Mississippi State University

Some factors that can impact the performance of an insecticide during rainy weather include (but are not limited to):

Amount of rainfall – This is fairly intuitive. Obviously 1 inch of rain will have more of an impact than a half an inch of rain, and 2 inches of rain will likely have a greater impact than 1 inch of rain. However, any amount of rain can have a negative impact on some insecticides.

Intensity of rainfall – This is an area we don’t know a lot about. You would expect that a half inch of rain that falls over a 20 minute period would have more of an effect than a half inch of rain that falls over a 2 hour period. In other words, a hard driving rain is probably going to be worse than a slow steady rain.

Activity of the Insecticide – Activity refers to whether or not the insecticide being used has systemic activity (moves into the plant) or contact activity. Systemic insecticides tend to be a little more rainfast than most contact insecticides because they can not be washed off once they are in the plant. In general, most of these will move into the plant within about 2-4 hours. Some contact insecticides may not be very rainfast, but it may not matter. This can be very complex depending on the specific crop and targeted pest (see below)

Target Insect – Where the insect feeds can be very important, especially with contact insecticides. For insects that feed enclosed within plant structures (such as bollworms in cotton or soybeans) or mobile insects that are migrating into the field (tarnished plant bugs), residual control is very important. In those situations, a contact insecticide like a pyrethroid or organophosphate may not do a very good job because the rain will wash it off of the foliage before they are moving around in the crop. In other situations where the insect is exposed (bollworms in small beans or grain sorghum, or rice water weevil in rice), a pyrethroid may be the best choice because those insects will come into contact with a lethal dose almost immediately and will be controlled. If the rain washes it off after that point, it may not really matter.

General Guidelines:

For most insecticides, effective control can be obtained if the spray goes out about 2 to 4 hours before the rain. One major exception to this is Orthene or any of the other acephate based products. Acephate is by far the least effective insecticides to use when rain is expected, in fact generally we like to see 8-12 hours after acephate, but longer the better.

Adjuvants can help with rainfastness. We did some work with adjuvants a couple of years ago and found that any good adjuvant can improve control with most insecticides. However, an adjuvant can’t fix a situation where an insecticide like acephate has poor rainfastness.

As far as the thrips materials go, Bidrin and Dimethoate would likely be the best option if rain is immanent. We really have no available data on Radiant and rainfastness but my guess is, based on the formulation, likely 4 to 6 hours. And as previously mentioned, acephate needs the most time.

Nozzle Types:

One final thought. Remember that control of some pest can vary greatly with different nozzle types. Coarse droplet low drift tips reduce efficacy on pest like thrips. Hollow Cone or Flat Fan tips with high P.S.I will greatly improve control. This will become magnified even more when frequent rains are occurring. When mixing thrips products with herbicides it is understandable (and wise) to choose low drift tips but it will likely have some impact on control.

Back to news


Spell Check

No comments have been posted to this News Article

Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by
Brought to you by Beyer