Agricultural entomologist and Cooperative Extension specialist Ian Grettenberger, who joined the faculty of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Entomology in January 2019, targets a variety of pests, including western spotted and striped cucumber, beetles, armyworms, bagrada bugs, alfalfa weevils, aphids, and thrips
Grettenberger, who fills the vacated position of Larry Godfrey (1956-2007), received his bachelor of science degree in biology, with an ecology, evolution and organismal emphasis (honors Program) in 2009 from Western Washington University, Bellingham, Wash., and his doctorate in entomology in 2015 from Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa. He served as a postdoctoral researcher in the Godfrey lab and later, the Frank Zalom lab, before accepting his current appointment of assistant Cooperative Extension specialist.
Grettenberger's fields of expertise include field and vegetable crops; integrated pest management; applied insect ecology, and biological control of pests.
Among his current grants:
- Protection of rice from invertebrate pests
- Management of key cotton arthropod pests with insecticides and acaricides, a proactive approach to prepare for the invasion of the tomato leafminer (Tuta absoluta) into California
- Detection, biology and control of the exotic Swede midge (Contarinia nasturtii) for California cole crops
- Management of the western spotted and striped cucumber beetle in melon production
- Biological control of the bagrada bug
- Insecticide resistant alfalfa weevils in the western United States:Quantifying the scope of resistance and implementing a plan to manage the threat
- Insecticide resistance monitoring and evaluation of efficacy of current chemical tactics for managing aphids and thrips in lettuce
How did you get interested in entomology? Can you recall an occasion that sparked your interest?
I had biologist parents, and was drawn into entomology at a pretty young age. I spent plenty of time looking in flowers and turning over logs looking for insects. Once I started thinking about going to graduate school for entomology, I decided to focus on the intersection of agricultural entomology and insect ecology. I wanted to work on applied issues in entomology.
How would you describe yourself?
I like tackling problems, which has worked out well with my work in applied entomology and extension. I can be intensely focused and immensely distracted, which I would say has its pluses and minuses.
What do you like best about your work?
I love working in applied entomology and that I get to use research to better understand pests and work to develop IPM tools. The breadth of crops I cover is both a bit overwhelming but immensely exciting because of the diversity in pest issues, types of tactics that are applicable, and interesting ecological/biological questions among the various crop pests. I also get to work with great people, both within my lab and with all of the various collaborators/cooperators. I have met and worked with a lot of fantastic people this first year, and I also think my lab is off to a great start.
Where were you born and where did you spend your childhood?
I was born in Portland, Ore., but I primarily grew up in Olympia, Wash. As you might imagine, I grew up with lots of rain, but in a beautiful area.
What are your research plans/goals here at UC Davis? What drew you to UC Davis?
Thus far, I have been focused on projects in crops where there has historically seen solid research by UC Davis (such as rice and cotton) and have been developing new projects and collaborations. For better or worse, IPM is never static, so my research will be continually evolving to address pest management needs and has already been shifting this first year. Because I have an extension appointment, stakeholder needs have driven much of my work and this will continue to be a theme.
I was drawn to Davis by the many opportunities it would afford working in agricultural entomology. The department has a great reputation academically and the people in it are great as well. I also would have (and have had) the opportunity to connect with many other great researchers in the UC system, both campus- and county-based. There are many crops and pests to work on. We are quite literally surrounded by crops I work in, including alfalfa, rice, and tomatoes. I even found some alfalfa weevil on my run last weekend.
What do you like to do in your leisure time?
My primary hobby is running, ideally on trails and long distances. I can deal with the nearly zero elevation gain in our area, but I like to get out to where there are some hills. I also like to be outdoors in general and spending time with my family (wife/dog/cat; dog will go on adventure runs with us, cat only gets the backyard).
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I don't like all foods, but I will try basically anything just to see what it tastes like. I think some people are also surprised by the amount of food I can eat at one time.
Let's hear it for biocontrol.
You've seen lady beetles, aka ladybugs, preying on aphids.
But have you seen an assassin bug attack a spotted cucumber beetle?
How about a crab spider munching on a stink bug?
All biocontrol, part of integrated pest management (IPM).
If you access the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) website or more specifically, this page, you'll learn that "Integrated pest management, or IPM, is a process you can use to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. IPM can be used to manage all kinds of pests anywhere–in urban, agricultural, and wildland or natural areas."
Or, UC IPM's more in-depth definition:
"IPM is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and nontarget organisms, and the environment."
Think of biocontrol as beneficial: "Biological control is the beneficial action of predators, parasites, pathogens, and competitors in controlling pests and their damage. Biological control provided by these living organisms (collectively called "natural enemies") is especially important for reducing the numbers of pest insects and mites, but biological control agents can also contribute to the control of weed, pathogen, nematode or vertebrate pests."--UC IPM
Yesterday we witnessed an incredible case of biocontrol in action.
At Bodega Bay's Doran Regional Park, Sonoma County, we spotted a great blue heron stepping stealthily through a thatch of ice plant in the Jetty campground. It was 6:30 in the morning. As campers slept in their recreational vehicles a few feet away, the great blue heron just kept stepping silently through the ice plant. One step. Another step. And another.
And then it happened. Its long sharp beak speared a rodent. Yes, they eat rodents. It crunched the body from head to toe, breaking the bones, and then swallowed it whole.
Not a pretty picture, but a simple case of biocontrol, compliments of a hungry heron.
They go together like superman (Clark Kent) and supervillian (Lex Luthor). Or like Coccinellidae (lady beetles) and Aphididae (aphids).
Fact is, IPM specialist Frank Zalom, a distinguished professor of entomology and Extension entomologist at the University of California, Davis, targets pests. He solves pest problems the IPM way--using effective, biologically based pest management approaches.
Over the last four decades, he has honed an incredible career. Absolutely incredible.
And now he's receiving a well-deserved lifetime achievement award at the Ninth International IPM Symposium March 19-22 in Baltimore.
“Dr. Zalom continues to advance the science and implementation of IPM,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “His integrity, service and respect for all are legendary.”
At the Baltimore seminar, Zalom will deliver a presentation on “The ‘I' in IPM: Reflections on the International IPM Symposium and Evolution of the IPM Paradigm.” He will reflect on his 16 years co-chairing the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities' National IPM Committee, the committee that launched the symposia. Zalom also played a role in organizing the first four IPM Symposia.
In addition, Zalom and fellow members of the UC European Grapevine Moth Team will receive an award of excellence for contributing to eradication of the pest in 2016--only six years after its discovery in California vineyards.
The only other lifetime achievement award recipient this year also has a UC connection: Peter Goodell, UC IPM advisor emeritus, affiliated with the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center. And a longtime friend and colleague of Frank Zalom.
Zalom, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, teaches arthropod pest management, targets pests using IPM methods, and develops major agricultural IPM programs for California's specialty crops.
Zalom is a past president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America; co-founder of the International IPM symposia; and for 16 years, directed the University of California Statewide IPM Program, considered “the gold standard” of IPM programs.
Zalom's 16 years at the helm of the UC IPM program set the standard, nationally and globally, for subsequent IPM programs. He established a statewide, interdisciplinary IPM team of Cooperative Extension farm advisors, and oversaw development of the website's online degree-day tool, and the database of degree-day models that remains widely used by California's county-based extension staff and crop consultants.
“Advancing the science and implementation of IPM will reduce the impact of pests and pest control on agriculture and the environment,” Zalom said. “This is critical in California, where we grow more than a third of our nation's vegetables and two-thirds of our nation's fruits and nuts. California agriculture is a $42.6 billion industry that generates at least $100 billion in related economic industry.”
The Zalom laboratory has helped establish biologically based IPM programs for arthropod pests of California tree, vine, small fruit and vegetable crops valued at over $19 billion. The lab has addressed 17 invasive species introductions, among them southern green stink bug, silverleaf whitefly, glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fly, invasive saltcedar, light brown apple moth, spotted wing drosophila, and most recently European grape vine moth, brown marmorated stink bug and bagrada bug. Specific programs have reduced insecticide use and pesticide runoff into surface waters, and resulted in more effective management of several key and invasive pests of specialty crops.
Zalom interacts broadly with research colleagues, extension educators, growers, consultants, environmental groups, and public agency personnel throughout the state, nation and world to advance the science and use of IPM. He has served on scores of national ad hoc committees of agencies and organizations that shaped IPM policy and directions. He was recently appointed to a new Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) task force that will produce a white paper on behalf of the organization on Integrated Pest Management. He previously served on the task force for the CAST Issue Paper, “Feasibility of Prescription Pesticide Use in the United States."
Zalom's professional goals are four-fold (1) to solve pest problems using effective, biologically based pest management approaches; (2) to provide IPM leadership at the regional, state, national and international levels, (3) to maintain a vigorous cutting edge research program in entomology, especially related to IPM and invasive species; and (4) to educate a new generation of IPM practitioners through effective undergraduate teaching and graduate student mentoring.
Zalom has pursued his goals through a combination of fundamental studies related to pest biology, physiology, and community ecology; problem-focused, hypothesis-driven management research; and community-oriented extension efforts. “I focus my research on exploiting weaknesses in the biology of a pest species and its niche in the agroecosystem or the broader landscape,” Zalom said.
Among his many accomplishments:
- Appointed the first Editorial Board chair of ESA's new Journal of Integrated Pest Management.
- Founding member of the steering committee for the USDA-NIFA Pest Management Information Platform for Extension (ipmPIPE), an effort intended to assess risk of disease and insect outbreaks.
- Co-principal investigator of the USDA grant for $3.49 million that originally funded the Western IPM Center, located at UC Davis
- Numerous leadership roles in the Entomological Society of America (ESA), including president in 2014, member of ESA's presidential line for four years and Governing Board member for four years. He also served as the president of the Entomological Foundation and first chair of ESA's new Science Policy Committee.
- Author of more than 350 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and books, and has served as major professor for 12 Ph.D. students and seven master's students.
- Recipient of multiple awards at UC Davis including one for his outstanding mentoring, of women graduate students and post-doctoral scholars.
- Co-chair of the International Entomology Leadership Summit in 2016 in Orlando,Fla.
Zalom is a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, Entomological Society of America, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Royal Entomological Society (London). Previous IPM awards include the Entomological Foundation's IPM Team Award and Excellence in IPM Award, and the Perry Adkisson Distinguished Speaker Award from Texas A&M University. He is the only entomologist to be awarded the BY Morrison Memorial Medal for horticultural research, presented by the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the American Society for Horticultural Science.
Zalom, who joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980, shortly after receiving his doctorate of entomology in 1978, earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in zoology and ecology from Arizona State University, Tempe.
Now it's off to Baltimore to receive a well-deserved honor. Congratulations, Frank Zalom, champion of IPM!
"I do! I do! I do!"
Some of us engage in wedding photography.
Not with humans. With insects.
All you need is a bride, a groom and a…hmm…bedroom. That could be a leafy green bedroom in the rose garden where the lady beetles, aka ladybugs, are. Most of the time they're in the kitchen, eating aphids. Sometimes they're not.
Sometimes the activities underway aren't just...well...."integrated pest management activities." Think two ladybugs on a leaf. Two. One is not a "lady." There's this gender thing.
Life is simple in insect wedding photography.
- There's no preacher saying “Let us prey.” The bride and groom are both predators, and aphids are their prey.
- There are no vows. There's no “til death do us part.” Unless the bride and groom are praying mantids and the groom is about to part with his head.
- Love amid the roses? Well, there is “I larva you.” But insects are interested in only two things: reproduction and an all-you-can-eat buffet.
- There's no wedding party. But there is a congregation of favorite aunts (ants) and soldiers (soldier beetles), and assorted uninvited guests, including lacewings, honey bees, syrphid flies and spiders. Some of the guests are eating one another. Oops! Is it too late to hire a wedding planner?
- There's no need to coordinate what the mother of the bride and groom are wearing. They're wearing spots. And a few minutes ago, they flew off in search of more aphids. Sorry, to leave you, dears, but we're hungry.
- There's no wedding cake. Aphids are the fare when you're a ladybug. Mites and scales are fairly delicious, too.
Here's the kicker: the bride and groom will never, ever--never, ever!--complain about how fat, old, tired or wrinkled they look in the photos. They're as cute as well…bugs…and bugs are pretty darn cute.
If you want to pursue insect photography or insect wedding photography, you'll need a macro lens, patience, and the ability to blend into the scene.
Just don't bug the love bugs.
It's off to Berlin for integrated pest management (IPM) specialist Frank Zalom, professor and former vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and soon-to-be-president of the 6000-member Entomological Society of America (ESA)
Zalom is one of three Americans invited to speak at an international IPM workshop, Oct. 16-19, in Berlin, Germany.
Zalom, invited by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection of Germany, will speak on “Stimulating Use of Professional IPM Consultants in Agriculture, Benefits for Farmers and Society,” on Monday, Oct. 17.
That's indeed quite an honor.
The event is sponsored by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), which helps governments of the developed countries tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalized economy. The OECD is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
At the OECD workshop, to be held in the Julius Kuhn Institute, Federal Research Center for Cultivated Plants, invitees will develop recommendations related to the workshop themes, adoption and implementation of IPM in agriculture, contributing to the sustainable use of pesticides and to pesticide-risk reduction.
Wolfgang Zornback, chair of the OECD Working Group on Pesticides, German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, will welcome the group.
The speakers will include noted IPM specialists from Australia, Denmark, Canada, Germany, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, The Netherlands and the UK.
In other words, the top-notch IPM specialists in the world...
About 100 participants were either nominated by their governments or invited by the OECD. Half of the participants will include government representatives working on pesticide regulation, and half of the participants will include representatives from international/regional organizations: European Commission, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO), International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC), bio-pesticide industries, environmental and consumer organizations and academia.
Americans joining Zalom in Berlin will be Tom Green of the US/IPM Institute of North America in Madison, Wis., who will discuss “IPM in U.S. Schools: Challenges, Opportunities and Implications for IPM in Agriculture” and James VanKirk of the Southern Region IPM Center, North Carolina State University, who will address “IPM Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education.”
The OECD workshop will conclude with a visit to the German chancellery.
Zalom will begin a four-year commitment to ESA this fall when he will be inducted as vice president-elect at the organization’s 59th annual meeting, set Nov. 13-16 in Reno. He will subsequently move up to vice president and president and then serve a year fulfilling the duties of past president. The UC Davis entomologist will become president at the end of the 2013 annual meeting and then will serve as president at the 2014 meeting in Portland, Ore.
Zalom has been heavily involved in research and leadership in integrated pest management (IPM) activities at the state, national and international levels. He directed the UC Statewide IPM Program for 16 years (1986 -2001) and is currently experiment station co-chair of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) National IPM Committee.
He focuses his research on California specialty crops, including tree crops (almonds, olives, prunes, peaches), small fruits (grapes, strawberries, caneberries), and fruiting vegetables (tomatoes), as well as international IPM programs.
The Zalom lab has responded to six important pest invasions in the last decade, with research projects on the glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fruit fly, a new biotype of greenhouse whitefly, invasive saltcedar, light brown apple moth, and the spotted wing Drosophila.