Friday, May 31, 2013

New USDA Grant Available to Develop IPM Decision Support Systems

From USDA: The purpose of the program is to support development of expert systems that help guide, demonstrate and multiply impacts of USDA supported IPM programs. The goals of these IPM programs are: 1) Improve cost benefit analyses when adopting IPM practices, 2) Reduce potential human health risks from pests and related management strategies, and 3) Minimize adverse environmental effects from pests and related management strategies. Both the efficiency and effectiveness of these individual programs have historically been increased by the expert systems made available to the participants. The decision support systems created and maintained by the successful applicant will help these programs maintain and communicate IPM research, education, and extension priorities; allow a diverse group of stakeholders to obtain access to selected program outputs; compile LOGIC model based program reports; and synthesize program outcomes and impacts. projects should substantially contribute to the long-term improvement and sustainability of the IPM portfolio.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Center Funding Helps Develop a Better Way to Control Prionus Beetles in Hops

Hops growers in the Northwest – as well as sweet cheery, apple and other fruit growers around the nation – may soon have a new tool to combat Prionus beetles thanks to research funded in part by the Western Integrated Pest Management Center.

The research identified a sex pheromone produced by female Prionus californicus beetles and developed a synthesized version to be used in a commercial mating-disruption product that will be in large-scale trials as soon as next year. Pacific Biological Control is developing the commercial product.

“Every year, the Western IPM Center supports new pest-management research in the West, and this is exactly the kind of impact we’re looking to make,” said Jim Farrar, the director of the Center. “There really was no good way to manage this pest, and now it looks like we’re close to an effective solution.”

Adult Prionus beetles.
The adult Prionus californicus beetle is a fierce-looking longhorn beetle about two-inches long. The adult beetle doesn’t eat or drink and has a short three-to-four-week lifespan devoted to finding other beetles to mate with. The damage is done by the larvae.

“The larvae are root-feeders,” said Jim Barbour at the University of Idaho who co-led the Center-funded research team with Jocelyn Millar of the University of California, and Lawrence Hanks of the University of Illinois. “They grow to about three inches long, and one or two of them really make a mess of hop roots and the roots of some fruit trees. In fact, one old name for the beetle was the Giant Apple Root-Borer.”

Once a hop yard is infected, the only effective control strategy has been pulling up the plants and leaving the field fallow for two or three years. Fumigation with various organophosphates is sometimes used, but its effectiveness is questionable.

“In Idaho, they are the most serious hop pest,” Barbour said. “They are also a problem in Washington as well, which is the largest hop-producing state with about 25,000 acres in production.”

The team determined the female Prionus beetle produces a sex pheromone, then identified and synthesized the compound.

The larvae do the damage in hops and orchards
“Since then, it’s been shown to attract a number of Prionus beetles, not just Prionus californicus,” Barbour said. “It works with at least eight different species in North America and one in Europe.”

The team tested its compound in both mass-trapping strategies and mating-disruption approaches. In the former, the bait scent is placed in traps that beetles fall into and can’t escape and they die in the traps. In the latter, enough of the scent is released to saturate an area so the beetles can’t follow it back to a female and they die naturally without having mated.

“Mating disruption is easier in some respects because you don’t have traps to manage,” Barbour said. “It takes more work up front to show that the beetles are not finding each other to mate.”

The team’s tests showed both approaches can work, but have focused on mating disruption.

Barbour’s current research team is working with Pacific Biological Control and Western Region IR-4 to get the compound labeled by the EPA as a mating disruption agent for use in hops and sweet cherries. Since both are small-acreage crops, expanding the approved use to other crops like apples and pecans could help make the product more economically viable.
“We hope that by 2014 we’ll have large-scale trials going with it,” Barbour said. “This certainly will be welcome news in hop yards and to the hop commissions in various states.” 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Western IPM Center Creates Free Training Material to Protect Water from Pesticides

To help keep pesticides out of water sources, the Western Integrated Pest Management Center recently created practical, hands-on training modules for agricultural applicators, professional urban landscapers and home gardeners. 

The slide presentations focus on practical tips to protect water sources.
“When the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a 10-year study of pesticides in surface and groundwater, it collected water, sediment and fish samples from hundreds of surface water sites and found pesticide residue in every one of them,” said Western IPM Center Director Jim Farrar. “Most of the concentrations were low and not dangerous to human health, but the findings showed that pesticides often find their way into rivers and streams and they don’t belong there.”

To combat the problem, the Center created the training modules, which are in the form of PowerPoint slide presentations. They can all be downloaded for free on the Western IPM Center website at

The modules each have a different focus and different intended audience, but all deliver similar information.

“Each looks at how pesticides get into water, at soil and pesticide properties that can contribute to pesticides getting into water, and at how to use IPM practices to reduce pesticide contamination,” said Carrie Foss, Washington State University’s urban IPM director and one of the presentations’ authors. “We wanted it to be positive and practical.”

The presentations were peer reviewed before publication, and are designed to be a starting point for trainers – either industry, academic or Extension specialists.

“We expect people to take these modules and adapt them for their local audiences and needs,” Foss said. “We want trainers to add in information they feel is pertinent.”

For instance, the presentations do not contain specific precautions about pyrethroids or organophosphates, and a few reviewers thought they should.

“That type of specific pesticide information is important and it’s something we expect a trainer to include as it relates to their area and audience,” Foss explained.

Foss and others have used the training material for local audiences with good results. The urban modules were shown to a group of local government representatives in Southern California, and others have used various modules with groups as large as 220 people.

The key now is getting the training material out to a larger audience so awareness reaches from large commercial applicators all the way to the home gardener who occasionally buys a gallon of herbicide at the local nursery.

“We need all audiences thinking about what they can do to keep pesticides out of the water,” said University of Nevada’s Susan Donaldson, a co-author and water quality specialist and her state’s pesticide safety education coordinator. “Every little bit helps, and we want people to start doing what they can do.”

One thing the Western IPM Center has done is make the slide presentations available to anyone who wants to use them. Visit and look under Useful Resources for the “Water Quality Protection Training Modules for Agriculture, Homeowners & Landscape Professionals” link.  That will take you to a registration page (so the Center can track downloads) and once you’ve entered your contact information it’ll take you to the slides. From there, you can download any of the modules to your computer, then add, modify and customize the presentations to make them useful to your local audience.