Citrus root weevils and other
insect pests could soon fall prey to two newly licensed strains of a tiny
beneficial roundworm. Click the image for more information about
New License May Aid Control of Citrus Weevils,
Other Pests By Sharon Durham June 22, 2006
Two strains of a tiny, wormlike nematode could give citrus growers a
more effective natural way to rein in the serious pest known as citrus root
weevil (Diaprepes abbreviatus). Thanks to findings by Agricultural
Research Service (ARS) scientists, the
commercial production of the nematode Steinernema riobrave has been
licensed by BioControl Systems of
Shapiro-Ilan, at the
Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, Ga., with
Clay McCoy and Robin Stuart at the University of
Florida, found the two S. riobrave strains in Texas and Mexico. The
naturally occurring roundworms kill the pests but don't harm people or the
According to Shapiro-Ilan, S. riobrave generally ranks as the
best beneficial nematode for biological control applications against larvae of
the citrus root weevil in citrus groves.
Native to the Caribbean Islands, D. abbreviatus was first
reported in Florida in 1964 and has become a major pest of citrus and many
other commercial crops grown in the state. It's sometimes referred to as the
diaprepes root weevil.
Earlier this year, Donald Sturniolo, owner of BioControl Systems,
licensed the technology from ARS. Since then, the nematodes have been
mass-reared and stockpiled for future large-scale trials. These new strains
also have the potential to control other important pests, such as plum
curculio, pecan weevil and corn earworm, according to Sturniolo.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.