Peter C Ellsworth

Peter C Ellsworth

Professor, Entomology
Professor, Entomology / Insect Science - GIDP
Specialist, Entomology
Specialist, BIO5
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 374-6225

Work Summary

Peter Ellsworth is working to develop science-based solutions for integrated pest management through applied ecological investigations and organized outreach programs of Cooperative Extension, with principal focus on cotton; Integrated whitefly, Lygus, and pink bollworm management in cotton.

Research Interest

Peter Ellsworth, PhD, has broad interests in insect-crop interactions and applied insect ecology with particular emphasis on those aspects, which may be exploited for sound ecological and economical pest management. His responsibilities are to develop science-based solutions for integrated pest management through applied ecological investigations and organized outreach programs of Cooperative Extension, with principal focus on Bemisia tabaci, Lygus hesperus and Pectinophora gossypiella in the cotton agroecosystem, other field crops, and new crops as well as in cross-commodity interactions. In addition, Dr. Ellsworth is interested in insect phenology, diapause, insect-water relations, predictive modeling, pest biology, sampling, thresholds, and damage dynamics.As Director of the multi-disciplinary Arizona Pest Management Center, Dr. Ellsworth helps manage the institution's NIFA Extension IPM grant, serves as the state's federal IPM Coordinator and Pesticide Coordinator, and oversees and helps organize teams of research and extension faculty for the betterment of the science and application of IPM in Arizona.


Ellsworth, P., Ellsworth, P. C., Li, X., Degain, B. A., Harpold, V. S., Marçon, P. G., Nichols, R. L., Fournier, A. J., Naranjo, S. E., & Palumbo, J. C. (2012). Baseline susceptibilities of B- and Q-biotype Bemisia tabaci to anthranilic diamides in Arizona. Pest management science, 68(1).
BIO5 Collaborators
Peter C Ellsworth, Xianchun Li

Development of pyriproxyfen and neonicotinoid resistance in the B-biotype whitefly and recent introduction of the Q biotype have the potential to threaten current whitefly management programs in Arizona. The possibility of integrating the novel anthranilic diamides chlorantraniliprole and cyantraniliprole into the current program to tackle these threats largely depends on whether these compounds have cross-resistance with pyriproxyfen and neonicotinoids in whiteflies. To address this question, the authors bioassayed a susceptible B-biotype strain, a pyriproxyfen-resistant B-biotype strain, four multiply resistant Q-biotype strains and 16 B-biotype field populations from Arizona with a systemic uptake bioassay developed in the present study.

Naranjo, S. E., & Ellsworth, P. C. (2017). Methodology for Developing Life Tables for Sessile Insects in the Field Using the Whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, in Cotton As a Model System. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE.

Life tables provide a means of measuring the schedules of birth and death from populations over time. They also can be used to quantify the sources and rates of mortality in populations, which has a variety of applications in ecology, including agricultural ecosystems. Horizontal, or cohort-based, life tables provide for the most direct and accurate method of quantifying vital population rates because they follow a group of individuals in a population from birth to death. Here, protocols are presented for conducting and analyzing cohort-based life tables in the field that takes advantage of the sessile nature of the immature life stages of a global insect pest, Bemisia tabaci. Individual insects are located on the underside of cotton leaves and are marked by drawing a small circle around the insect with a non-toxic pen. This insect can then be observed repeatedly over time with the aid of hand lenses to measure development from one stage to the next and to identify stage-specific causes of death associated with natural and introduced mortality forces. Analyses explain how to correctly measure multiple mortality forces that act contemporaneously within each stage and how to use such data to provide meaningful population dynamic metrics. The method does not directly account for adult survival and reproduction, which limits inference to dynamics of immature stages. An example is presented that focused on measuring the impact of bottom-up (plant quality) and top-down (natural enemies) effects on the mortality dynamics of B. tabaci in the cotton system.

Ellsworth, P. C. (2017). A. Pubs that UAVitae is unable to properly import from standard bibliographic interchange files!!!. Please click on PDF at left for complete listing!!!.
Naranjo, S. E., Ellsworth, P. C., Chu, C. C., Henneberry, T. J., Riley, D. G., Watson, T. F., & Nichols, R. L. (1998). Action Thresholds for the Management of Bemisia tabaci (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) in Cotton. Journal of Economic Entomology, 91(6), 1415-1426.


A 2-yr, multistate project was initiated in 1994 to determine action thresholds for management of Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) Biotype B (=B. argentifolii Bellows & Perring) in cotton using chemical insecticides. Identical experimental designs and data collection protocols were used at sites in Brawley, CA, Yuma and Maricopa, AZ, and Weslaco, TX. The prescriptive application of insecticides based on 4 candidate action threshold levels (2.5, 5, 10, or 20 adult B tabaci per leaf) were compared with one another and an untreated control. In general, there were few differences in whitefly populations among action thresholds of 2.5, 5, and 10 adults per leaf at sites in Arizona and California. All insecticide treatments typically reduced population densities below those in untreated control plots. Insecticide applications were generally ineffective in Weslaco, possibly due to reduced insecticide susceptibility or the late onset of pest infestation, and there were few differences in population density among treatments. Yields were higher in sprayed treatments, but there was little difference among threshold levels. Yield differences were not detected among any treatments for Yuma and Weslaco in 1994 and for Maricopa in 1995. The levels of lint stickiness due to honeydew deposition, as measured by thermodetector, were not consistent among sites and were not generally related to pest densities in the different threshold treatments. Levels of stickiness tended to be higher in 1994. There were no treatment effects on other standard measures of lint quality. A simple budgeting analysis assuming $43.24/ha per application for insecticides and $1.59/kg for lint suggested that action thresholds of 5-10 adults per leaf provided the highest net return at most sites.

Naranjo, S. E., Ellsworth, P. C., & Hagler, J. R. (2004). Conservation of natural enemies in cotton: Role of insect growth regulators in management of Bemisia tabaci. Biological Control, 30(1), 52-72.


Field studies were conducted from 1997 to 1999 to contrast the effects of two insect growth regulators (IGRs) and conventional insecticides on natural enemy conservation in cotton within the context of alternative management strategies for Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius). Compared with an untreated control, insecticide regimes based on the initial use of the IGR buprofezin or pyriproxyfen reduced densities of eight predator taxa out of 20 examined in at least one year, including common species such as Geocoris punctipes (Say), Nabis alternatus Parshley, Chrysoperla carnea s.l., and the empidid fly Drapetis nr. divergens. Patterns of predator and pest population change relative to IGR application dates suggest that factors other than direct toxic effects, such as reduction in prey availability, were likely involved. In comparison, the use of conventional insecticides reduced populations of nearly all the predatory taxa examined in most years, including those affected by IGRs, with the impact being greater and more immediate in all cases. Predator:prey ratios were significantly increased by the use of IGRs compared with both the untreated control and a conventional insecticide regime in most instances. The application of conventional insecticides for suppression of Lygus hesperus Knight, another key pest in the system, in a split-plot design reduced densities of most predator taxa and diminished the selective advantage of the IGRs. Rates of parasitism by aphelinid parasitoids (Eretmocerus eremicus Rose and Zolnerowich and Encarsia spp.) were generally low and did not vary consistently due to B. tabaci or L. hesperus insecticide regimes over the three years. Our 3-year study demonstrates the more selective action of buprofezin and pyriproxyfen in an effective integrated control system for B. tabaci. The use of these IGRs could further facilitate biologically based management in cotton production systems.