The California Department of Food and Agriculture has awarded more than $1 million to fund three UC Agriculture and Natural Resources integrated pest management projects to research insects that have the potential to become pests in California agriculture. Each of the three-year projects received strong support from commodities which could be affected by invasive pests.
The projects that were awarded the funds are:
Proactive management of avocado seed and stem feeding weevils, led by UC Cooperative Extension specialist Mark Hoddle and entomology professor Jocelyn Millar, both at UC Riverside, will receive $348,893. This project will develop pheromones, identify natural enemies in the host range, and quantify flight capacity of the avocado seed weevils. Native to Mexico and invasive in Ecuador, these weevils feed directly on avocados and could cause substantial damage to the California avocado industry. The California Avocado Commission pledged an additional $150,000 to support this project. The work will be conducted at UC Riverside and in Mexico.
A proactive approach to prepare for the invasion of Tuta absoluta into California, led by UCCE specialist Ian Grettenberger, will receive $499,847. T. absoluta, a tomato leafminer, is a serious pest throughout Europe, Africa, western Asia and South and Central America and could decimate California's tomato industry. This project will proactively test targeted insecticides, identify native natural enemies that could be used in biological control, and conduct work to assist in breeding plants resistant to this pest. This project will be conducted at UC Davis, throughout California, and in Chile and Peru.
Detection, biology and control of the exotic Sweede midge for California cole crops, led by UCCE area IPM advisor Alejandro Del Pozo-Valdivia, UCCE specialist Ian Grettenberger and USDA research entomologist Daniel Hasegawa. Swede midge is a pest of cole crops in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada and could cause significant management issues for California's large cole crop industry. This project will collect important information about the biology of Swede midge, test low impact insecticides and botanical products as options for control, assess the possibility of weeds as alternative hosts, and work with growers to start monitoring for the pest. This project will be conducted at UC Davis and in the Salinas Valley.