During an outbreak of the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.), in California in 1997, nine populations were collected from the major broccoli areas throughout the state. Populations were assayed for their susceptibility to currently used materials (Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki, permethrin, and methomyl) and to newer materials that had not yet been commercially used in California (spinosad, emamectin benzoate, and chlorfenapyr). For the currently used insecticides, elevated levels of resistance were seen only with permethrin and seven of the nine populations had tolerance ratios (TR) of >100. With the newer chemistries, TR values were all <15. To compare potential cross-tolerance, TR values of the currently used insecticides were compared with TR values of the newer insecticides. There were significant relationships found between: methomyl and emamectin benzoate, methomyl and spinosad, and permethrin and spinosad. Further biochemical studies are needed to confirm the actual mechanisms that lead to these relationships and field tests are needed to determine what impact, if any, such TR levels would have on control in the field. These data indicate that resistance to at least one of the commonly used insecticides (permethrin) may have played a role in the outbreak during 1997. However, other factors may have been at least equally important. The winter of 1996–1997 was warmer than normal, and during the period from February through August of 1997 the amount of rainfall was <50% of normal. Hot and dry conditions are known to be conducive to outbreaks of P. xylostella. These data add to an overall knowledge about the geographic variation of resistance in P. xylostella populations within the United States. They also serve as a baseline for monitoring changes in susceptibility to these newer insecticides and can also help explain the occurrence of outbreaks caused by factors other than insecticide resistance.
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