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Spear RC is targeted to cotton, soybean, rice and other broader acre crops to control lepidopteran pests.

John Hart, Associate Editor

March 28, 2023

2 Min Read
Vestaron Spear Spider Venom
Hugh Beckham, left, and R.J. Byrne, both with Vestaron, showcased Spear RC, a new insecticide from Vestaron, at Commodity Classic in Orlando March 8 to 11. John hart

At a Glance

  • Blue Mountains funnel-web spider, most venomous spider on planet.

For decades, researchers sought ways to take the venom from the most venomous spider on the planet, the Blue Mountains funnel-web spider, and package the venom to control insects in an insecticide.

Earlier this century, Vestaron, based in Kalamazoo, Mich., found a way to do that, and in 2014, after a successful registration with the Environmental Protection Agency, released its first product, Spear T, derived from the venom of the Blue Mountain funnel-web spider. Spear T was targeted to thrips, whiteflies and spider mites in greenhouse settings. It is based on a peptide in versutoxin, the major component of the venom of the Blue Mountain funnel-web spider.

Today, Vestaron is the leading producer of peptide-based bioinsecticides. At Commodity Classic in Orlando March 8 to 11, Vestaron highlighted its latest Spear product, Spear RC, derived from versutoxin. Spear RC is targeted to cotton, soybean, rice and other broader acre crops to control lepidopteran pests such as cotton bollworm, soybean looper and armyworms.

Hugh Beckham, Vestaron territory manager for the Mid-South, says Spear RC works in conjunction with Leprotec, another Vestaron product, to kill worms. Beckham says the mixture is one quart of Spear RC and one pint of Leprotec.

Related:Insecticides show promise as Lorsban alternative in sweetpotatoes

Beckham notes that field trials show Spear RC performs similar to conventional insecticides. He says Vestaron’s Spear products have gone through field testing over 500 trials over five years in eight countries. He says Spear is an excellent integrated pest management (IPM) and resistance management tool. With no known resistance or cross resistance, Spear RC works as a standalone or in rotation with conventional insecticides.

“Spear is great for bees and other beneficials. It is very environmentally friendly. We’ve seen a lot of resistance problems in our industry, and that’s one thing we bring to the market is no resistance in our product. Spear is a new mode of action, Group 32,” Beckham says.

R.J. Byrne, Vestaron territory manager for the Southeast, says many are taken aback that Spear is derived from spider venom. They question if it is safe to use.

“I was visiting with a consultant about Spear, explaining how it works and that it comes from the world’s most venomous spider, and he says ‘oh my gosh, does the label have a skull and crossbones on it?’ I say, ‘no,” this product has very low toxicity to mammalians and off-target species.”

About the Author(s)

John Hart

Associate Editor, Southeast Farm Press

John Hart is associate editor of Southeast Farm Press, responsible for coverage in the Carolinas and Virginia. He is based in Raleigh, N.C.

Prior to joining Southeast Farm Press, John was director of news services for the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C. He also has experience as an energy journalist. For nine years, John was the owner, editor and publisher of The Rice World, a monthly publication serving the U.S. rice industry.  John also worked in public relations for the USA Rice Council in Houston, Texas and the Cotton Board in Memphis, Tenn. He also has experience as a farm and general assignments reporter for the Monroe, La. News-Star.

John is a native of Lake Charles, La. and is a  graduate of the LSU School of Journalism in Baton Rouge.  At LSU, he served on the staff of The Daily Reveille.

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