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Posts Tagged: pest

Kyle Lewald of Joanna Chiu Lab: Targeting the South American Tomato Leafminer

If you love tomatoes, you hate any and all pests that attack them. That would include the larvae of Tuta absoluta, a South American tomato...

Larvae of Tuta absoluta, a South American tomato leafminer, damaging a tomato leaf. (Photo courtesy of A. Mussoll)
Larvae of Tuta absoluta, a South American tomato leafminer, damaging a tomato leaf. (Photo courtesy of A. Mussoll)

Larvae of Tuta absoluta, a South American tomato leafminer, damaging a tomato leaf. (Photo courtesy of A. Mussoll)

Posted on Tuesday, February 21, 2023 at 5:24 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Economic Development, Environment, Innovation, Natural Resources, Pest Management

UCCE researchers target sugar-feeding ants, a key to controlling citrus pests, disease

David Haviland sharing his research at the Argentine Ant and Citrus Pest Management Field Day in Redlands in October 2022. All photos by Saoimanu Sope.

Sugar-feeding ants protect pests that infect trees and damage the fruit they bear. Insecticides are often a go-to solution, but may kill beneficial insects in the process, too. Thankfully, Mark Hoddle, University of California Cooperative Extension entomologist and biological control specialist at UC Riverside, together with UCR colleagues in chemical engineering, developed a biodegradable hydrogel baiting system that targets ant populations, which protect sap-sucking pests from their natural enemies. Control of ants allows beneficial parasitoids and predators to greatly reduce pest populations.

Deciding to expand Hoddle's research was a “no-brainer” according to David Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Kern County.

Haviland is investigating active ingredients that can be effectively used in hydrogel baiting systems. His research builds on Hoddle's use of alginate gels, also known as water beads, soaked in sugar water to control Argentine ants.

“What we're doing in California can benefit places like Florida, Texas, Mexico and beyond,” Haviland said.

A display of Argentine ants at the Argentine Ant and Citrus Pest Management Field Day in Redlands in October 2022.
Sugar-feeding ants are a universal problem as they interfere with biocontrol processes and promote diseases like huanglongbing, or citrus greening, because there are more vectors to spread disease-causing organisms between trees.

The Hoddle lab conducted two years of orchard research showing that when ants are controlled, the amount of citrus flush infested with Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), a mottled brown insect that vectors the pathogen causing citrus greening, decreases by 75%. Citrus flush refers to newly developed leaves.

“But benefits are not restricted to just ACP with Argentine ant control, as natural enemies destroy colonies of other sap-sucking pests too,” said Hoddle. “For example, citrus mealybug infestations on leaves were completely eliminated by natural enemies, 100% control, while densities of fruit infested by mealybugs were reduced by 50%.” 

The Hoddle lab's success inspired Haviland to consider how this approach will fare in different regions of the state where there are different crops, different pests and different ant species. 

Haviland has worked for many years on solid baits that are effective and affordable for ants that feed primarily on protein, like fire ants in almonds, but successful control measures for sugar-feeding ants that drink their food have been elusive.

“Therefore, we're using hydrogels to essentially turn a liquid bait into a solid, making it effective and commercially adoptable,” Haviland said. He and his team are assessing whether active ingredients that undoubtedly work against ants, like thiamethoxam, maintain their effects in a hydrogel system.

Unlike Hoddle's biodegradable alginate gels, Haviland is relying on acrylamide gels that are similar to the absorbing material you would find in a diaper. These gels are not organic, but are currently accessible on a commercial scale, and have been shown to be effective in wine grapes on the North Coast by a Cooperative Extension advisor in Napa County, Monica Cooper. Haviland's current research efforts are focused on citrus, table grapes and wine grapes in the San Joaquin Valley, and on lemons on the coast.

Hoddle's hydrogel baiting system uses alginate gels.
Haviland is experimenting with acrylamide gels.

The primary challenge now is navigating pesticide regulations and registration.

“This is cutting-edge research,” Haviland said, and manufacturer labels for the products being used need to be updated to include hydrogels as an approved use. This process takes time. Additionally, adding new product uses needs to make economic sense for the manufacturer.

Hoddle and Haviland's research can provide data for adding these methods to the product labels.

“If we can show that this tech works against lots of pests, lots of ant species, in lots of different crops across California, hopefully we'll achieve a critical mass of benefits that motivates product manufacturers to make modifications to their labels,” said Haviland.

Haviland is hopeful about the process, and said he believes that UC ANR is in a prime position to lead innovation for an issue that requires collaboration among specialists, advisors and the industry.

Posted on Monday, January 9, 2023 at 1:54 PM
Tags: ants (41), Argentine (1), bait (1), biocontrol (6), citrus (27), Haviland (1), Hoddle (1), hydrogel (1), innovation (2), Kern (1), pest (6), pesticide (1), Riverside (2), sugar (3)
Focus Area Tags: Innovation, Pest Management

Dot-lined Angle: New Caterpillar Pest Found in Low Desert Alfalfa Fields

A new caterpillar was found this fall on alfalfa in the Palo Verde Valley of California and several other alfalfa growing areas of western...

Posted on Friday, December 30, 2022 at 12:04 PM
Tags: pest management (0)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

New online pesticide-use course aims to protect water quality

Animated character guides learners through new UC IPM online course and explains how pesticide runoff enters storm drains and leads to surface water.

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 then they can enroll. The direct link to the course is

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.

Residues from urban pesticide applications may be washed into storm drains and lead directly into creeks, rivers, and oceans. Credit: Petr Kosina, UC IPM
Screen from the surface water protection online course showing buttons a learner can click on to learn about regulated applications to various surfaces.
Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2022 at 7:38 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment

A Good Day for a Praying Mantis

It was a good day for a praying mantis. It was not a good day for a honey bee. Here's what happened in the "Daily Insect News": a gravid praying...

A gravid praying mantis, Stagmomantis limbata, dines on a honey bee in a Vacaville pollinator garden. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A gravid praying mantis, Stagmomantis limbata, dines on a honey bee in a Vacaville pollinator garden. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A gravid praying mantis, Stagmomantis limbata, dines on a honey bee in a Vacaville pollinator garden. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2022 at 4:46 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Pest Management, Yard & Garden

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