Posts Tagged: integrated pest management
Do you know that some pesticides used around homes and other structures are toxic to small aquatic organisms living in nearby streams, creeks, rivers and oceans? The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program has launched a new online course on runoff and surface water protection in California. This course is designed for pest management professionals working primarily in structural pest control or landscape maintenance, but residents and property managers may also find the presented information useful.
Developed by pest management experts from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and the University of California, this course presents information on the Surface Water Protection Regulations that are found in Title 3 of the California Code of Regulations. These regulations were put into place to prevent pesticide runoff into California waterways and to reduce surface water contamination from pyrethroid insecticide use.
In this course, you will learn about the types of pesticide applications that are allowed under the regulations, as well as application types that are prohibited and also application types that are exempt. The course takes a close look at pyrethroids, particularly bifenthrin because of its high use in urban areas, high detection in surface waters, and high toxicity to aquatic organisms. Fipronil, another commonly used ingredient in structural and landscape products, is addressed in the course as well because it causes similar water-quality concerns as pyrethroids. Bifenthrin is used for managing pests such as ants, crickets and lawn grubs. Fipronil is used for ants, roaches and termites.
The Urban Pyrethroid and Fipronil Use: Runoff and Surface Water Protection course has been approved by DPR for a total of 1.5 continuing education units, including 0.5 hour of Pesticide Laws and Regulations and 1.0 hour of Other and by the Structural Pest Control Board for 1.5 hours of Rules and Regulations.
The course takes about 90 minutes to complete. It is divided up into seven sections so a person can stop and resume where they left off. The course is free. To take the course, people need to set up an account at https://campus.extension.org/ then they can enroll. The direct link to the course is https://campus.extension.org/course/view.php?id=2221.
UC IPM currently offers 22 online courses with continuing education units from DPR. Many of these courses are also credited by the California Structural Pest Control Board, Certified Crop Adviser, the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, and the Arizona Department of Agriculture.
Publication in English, Spanish prepares private applicators for state exam
Expanded from four chapters in the previous edition to 12, the third edition of Pesticide Safety: A Study Manual for Private Applicators aims to be more than just a study guide.
The manual, available for purchase in English and Spanish, provides much more detail on essential processes and procedures that will help keep applicators safe while using pesticides – as well as reduce environmental impacts from misapplication.
Published by University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources in collaboration with the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation, the manual – intended for members of the agricultural community who own, manage or work on farms that use restricted-use pesticides – also includes substantial updates.
“The information in the book they were using was way out of date,” said writer/editor Shannah Whithaus, senior editor for pesticide safety education with UC ANR's Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. “Also, the book was much, much shorter than it needed to be, because it wasn't providing enough information for people to safely apply pesticides, given the complexity of the regulatory environment we're in now.”
The new manual reflects important changes to federal and state regulations since the publication of the previous edition in 2006.
“There are significant regulatory updates which help you stay up-to-date with safety rules and standards – and protect your workers from overexposure to pesticides,” said Lisa Blecker, technical editor of the publication, and currently a pesticide safety educator at Colorado State University.
In addition to emphasizing the broader ecological ramifications of improper pesticide use, the manual includes information on subjects that might get short shrift in other manuals, such as the correct calibration of equipment to ensure accuracy of application.
“All of that is now in the book and fully fleshed out,” Whithaus said. “[Applicators] are going to be able to do that much more effectively using the new book, compared to the old one – it was really hard to be thorough in 80-some pages.”
The new edition – totaling more than 200 substantive pages – also features a more streamlined and user-friendly layout modeled after a sister publication, The Safe and Effective Use of Pesticides, written for commercial applicators.
“A significant update is a layout that is not only beautiful, but helps you identify key information you need to know in order to make safe and effective pesticide applications,” Blecker explained.
She highlighted the “knowledge expectations” listed at the beginning of each chapter and in the margins of the book, next to the relevant passages. The statements serve as “visual cues” to help readers learn and retain the material they need to pass California DPR's certification exam for private applicators.
And while the manual functions as an improved study aid for owners, managers and workers who apply pesticides, it doubles as a reference that they can turn to for years to come.
“It's going to be able to serve as a reference manual, as opposed to just a study guide,” Whithaus said. “You really will be able to use this book as a tool to help you do better in managing your land.”
The manual, listed at $29, is available for purchase in English at https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=3383 and in Spanish at https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=3394./h4>
Strawberries, which generated $2.2 billion for California growers mainly on the coast in 2019, are sensitive to soilborne diseases. Strawberry plant roots infected by fungi are unable to take in nutrients and water, causing the leaves and stems to wilt. The diseases reduce fruit yields and eventually kill infected plants.
To protect the delicate plants from pathogens, strawberry growers fumigate the soil with pesticides such as chloropicrin and 1,3-dichloropropene before planting transplants. Due to the potential negative effects on the environment and human health, however, use of fumigants are highly regulated and developing non-fumigant alternatives has been a priority of the strawberry industry.
For a biological alternative to manage soilborne diseases in strawberries, Joji Muramoto, UC Cooperative Extension organic production specialist based at UC Santa Cruz, has received a $411,395 grant from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study the ability of other crops to suppress strawberry pathogens in the soil.
Verticillium wilt, caused by Verticillium dahliae, is a common soilborne disease that can be controlled with anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD), a fermentation-based biological treatment using carbon sources such as rice bran under plastic mulch in moist soils for 3 to 5 weeks in autumn. About 2,000 acres of berry fields, mostly organic, were treated with ASD in California and Baja California, Mexico, in 2019.
In 2008-09, the diseases fusarium wilt, caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. fragariae, and charcoal rot, caused by Macrophomina phaseolina, emerged in Southern California and now threaten strawberry plants throughout the state.
ASD isn't as effective against F. oxysporum and M. phaseolina unless it is applied in summer on the coast. As saprophytes, they feed not only on living plants, but also can colonize crop residues and rice bran especially at lower coastal temperatures in autumn. Treating fields on California's coast with ASD during summer is difficult because it competes with the vegetable production period.
Based on promising studies in Asia and other areas, Muramoto plans to test alliums – such as onion, bunch onion and leek – and a certain variety of wheat (Summit 515) to see if they will suppress F. oxysporum and M. phaseolina. His team will conduct a series of greenhouse and field trials and test these crops with and without ASD to compare the effects on soilborne pathogens.
“Studies have shown the potential of using allium crops to control Fusarium wilt, and Summit 515 wheat for charcoal rot,” Muramoto said. “Our goal is to examine the effectiveness of suppressive crops, optimize them for California strawberry production systems, and evaluate their economic feasibility for commercial use.”
“No single tactic is likely to replace fumigants,” he said. “Integration of multiple biological approaches such as crop rotation, ASD, and use of resistant strawberry varieties is a key to develop a successful non-fumigant-based soilborne disease management strategy for strawberries. This project is a part of such broader efforts.”
At the end of the three-year study, he plans to share the results at workshops, field days and webinars.
Rachael Goodhue, UC Davis professor of agricultural economics; Carol Shennan, UC Santa Cruz professor of environmental studies; and Peter Henry, USDA Agricultural Research Service plant pathologist, are co-principal investigators on the study with Muramoto.
Also collaborating on the project are Christopher Greer, UC Cooperative Extension integrated pest management area advisor in San Luis Obispo County; Oleg Daugovish, UCCE vegetable and strawberry advisor in Ventura County; Mark Bolda, UCCE director strawberry and cane berry advisor in Santa Cruz County; Jan Perez, food systems specialist, and Darryl Wong, farm research manager, at UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems; Miguel Ramos of Ramos Farm; Agriculture and Land-Based Association (ALBA); Driscoll's; Naturipe; and The Oppenheimer Group.
Spotting ants in the home or yard is no reason to reach for insecticide sprays or call an exterminator. UC Cooperative Extension experts say the insects can be managed by residents in ways that are effective, inexpensive, safe and environmentally kind.
“Ants are probably the No. 1 most common pests of our homes and gardens,” said Carolyn Kinnon, an environmental horticulturist and instructional associate at Mira Costa Community College. “Scientists find chemicals in our waterways that include pesticides commonly used to kill ants.”
Kinnon teamed up with UCCE community education specialist Scott Parker to present a Healthy Garden-Healthy Home online ant workshop during the COVID-19 pandemic to take the place of a planned in-person event. Healthy Garden-Healthy Home was initiated in 2005 with a grant from the California State Water Resources Control Board and continues with funding from San Diego County. With the move online, the workshop attracted four times more participants that usual.
“A silver lining of the COVID disaster has been our ability to reach out to many more individuals,” Parker said.
Healthy Gardens-Healthy Homes aims to cut residents' use of chemicals and reduce soil erosion that can wash into gutters with irrigation or rain water, course through storm drains and into streams, reservoirs and the Pacific Ocean. During the recent UCCE webinar on healthy ant control, Kinnon introduced science-based solutions that can be combined to keep ants at bay.
Use ant biology to battle ants
Ants are always looking for food and will forage any accessible source. Short circuiting this biological need is the first approach to controlling the pest. Outside, ants are often attracted to a sticky, sweet honeydew that pests like aphids leave behind when they feed on plants. Washing off aphids and honeydew with a sharp stream of water from the hose reduces the food source.
In spring, Kinnon said, ants like to feed on proteins, like seeds, nuts, dog food and other fatty substances. Fallen nuts, bird seed and leftover pet food should be discarded to reduce ant activity.
“When honeydew production from sap-sucking insects declines in the hot summer, and there is an absence of food sources outdoors, ants may come indoors,” she said. “Ants will travel several hundred feet in search for food.”
Removing inside food sources – like spills on counters and floors – and blocking access – by filling in holes and cracks – is the first defense against an indoor ant invasion. Kinnon recommends keeping food containers clean and sealed, rinsing empty recyclables – particularly sugar-sweetened beverages – and wiping up grease on barbecues and stove tops.
Wipe up ants and their chemical trails with an all-purpose cleaner, and fill tiny gaps, cracks and holes with caulk to make their entry difficult.
Another way to achieve environmentally friendly ant management is coming to terms with the fact that they can't be eliminated from outdoor areas.
“Our goal is to focus on reducing population numbers,” Kinnon said. “We have to tolerate a certain number.”
Spraying a pesticide on an ant trail or sprinkling granular pesticides will only kill a fraction of the ants in the yard. Those materials can run off and pollute watersheds.
If cleaning up food sources, exclusionary measures and increased tolerance aren't enough, pesticide baits are an additional integrated pest management tool.
“This works because female worker ants take the bait back to the nest and feed it to other ants in the colony,” Kinnon said.
The bait must be slow acting so it doesn't kill the worker before she gets back to the colony. Kinnon recommended baits with no more than .5% active ingredient. For best bait placement, follow trails to find the nest and place the bait close by in a safe bait station. If the nest can't be found, the bait station can be placed along the trail.
To control spider mites, many almond farmers have taken to routinely spraying their trees with a miticide in May. However, research by UC Integrated Pest Management advisor Kris Tollerup shows that the pesticide application could cause more harm than good.
“The preventative sprays do suppress spider mite populations, but there's no beneficial effect because the mites show up very late in the season and the population density remains well below an economic level,” Tollerup said. “A natural enemy, six-spotted thrips, will likely show up and suppress the mite population before any damage occurs.”
Tollerup recommends almond farmers monitor their orchards for spider mites and six-spotted thrips to determine whether treatment is necessary.
During the 2017 growing season, about 517,000 acres of almonds in California received a preventative miticide application in May; 93% were treated with the insecticide abamectin.
“This strategy runs counter to sustainable integrated pest management practices,” Tollerup said. “The sprays adversely impact spider mite natural enemies and are based on the calendar, not on the monitoring and economic thresholds that the UC Statewide IPM program has determined help reduce pesticide applications.”
The heavy reliance on abamectin has also caused some spider mites in the mid-San Joaquin Valley to become 16 times more resistant to the miticide than susceptible populations.
Tollerup worked with the Almond Board of California and a large grower in Kern County to compare the effectiveness of the preventative miticide spray with plots that were simply monitored for pests and natural enemies.
“Tollerup and other UCCE advisors have correctly identified the problem and spoken out both in public and private about not treating unless economic thresholds have been met,” said a pest control adviser working in Kern County. “Because of Tollerup's role, we have been able to collaborate with farmers to hold off on spring treatments at many ranches and only treat when warranted, which has essentially removed a spray treatment on a vast number of acres.”
Surveys conducted after the trial results were released showed that 80,000 acres of almonds were not treated with miticide sprays in May 2018 and May 2019. The change in strategy resulted in a savings to farmers of about $2.2 million in miticide and application costs.
Moreover, Tollerup calculated a subsequent reduction of 880,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions due to reduced use of diesel tractors and motor-driven application equipment associated with the miticide spray.
For more information on integrated pest management of spider mites, see the UC Integrated Pest Management website and IPM of spider mites on almond improves farm profitability and air quality.