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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2009 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The goal of this project is to develop improved strategies for control of arthropod pests attacking pecan and peach. Strategies will be employed to suppress key insect and mite pests using economically and ecologically sound methods that result in sustainable management systems and increased profitability.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Research to control arthropod pests involves development of IPM programs. Biological control efforts focus on developing entomopathogens (e.g., nematodes and fungi) to suppress pecan weevil and peachtree borer. A multifaceted improvement program is being employed to enhance entomopathogenic nematode and fungus efficacy and persistence; the program includes survey and genetic enhancement of strains, improved formulations, refinement of application, mass production, and conservation methods, and pertinent basic studies e.g., on beneficial trait stability. Other research on improved pest management focuses on efficacy of chemical insecticides applied to target-specific areas, soft chemistry and plant derived pesticide alternatives, and physical barriers to protect the crop. IPM and monitoring efforts focus on stink bug movement across agricultural landscapes. Additionally, emergence/post-emergence behavior of adult and larval pecan weevils will be studied to better time application of control measures. Research efforts on pecan focus on control of pecan weevil, aphids, and stink bugs, but may also include efforts to control hickory shuckworm, pecan nut casebearer, and other pest complexes. Research efforts on peach focus on development of control of strategies for sesiid borers using mating disruption and entomopathogenic nematodes; IPM for plum curculio management; and impact of root-feeding weevils.

3.Progress Report
This report serves to document progress of research conducted under in house project 6606-22000-21-00D. Novel strategies for controlling a key pecan pest, pecan weevil, with microbial control agents were investigated including new methods of applying beneficial fungi and long-term suppression using entomopathogenic nematodes. These biocontrol approaches appear to be promising for use against pecan weevil and other pests.

This report serves to document research conducted under CRADA 58-3K95-6-1124, "Mechanization of in vivo production of entomopathogenic nematodes in Tenebrio molitor," between ARS (Byron, GA and Stoneville, MS) and Southeastern Insectaries, Inc. This project relates to Objective 1 of this in house project: Determine the efficacy of biological control agents in suppressing pecan and peach insect pests, thereby reducing reliance upon chemical insecticides. Insect-killing nematodes are potent natural biopesticides. Novel methods to enhance production methods for these nematodes are required to expand the usage of these promising biocontrol agents. This project is aimed at mechanizing and optimizing host insect and nematode production systems. Advancements have been made in in vivo production of mealworms and nematodes for application in aqueous suspension of infected host cadavers.

This serves as a final report for the funded agreement “Entomopathogenic Nematodes as a Reduced Risk Alternative to Organophosphates for Control of Borers (Lepidoptera: Sesiidae) Attacking Peach," between ARS (Byron, GA), University of Georgia, and University of Florida (Primary Institution). Scientists on the project discovered that a certain species of beneficial nematode is capable of providing high levels of peachtree borer control. In field trials the nematodes produced 88% to 100% suppression of peachtree borer damage. The nematodes were effective in both curative and prophylactic applications. The technology has been adopted by some growers and has potential for expansion.

1. Novel control of the peachtree borer using beneficial nematodes: The peachtree borer is a major pest of stone fruits such a peach and plum. Safe and effective methods of controlling this pest are of interest. Beneficial insect-killing nematodes are safe environmentally friendly natural insecticides. ARS scientists from the Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research laboratory, Byron, Georgia, in cooperation with colleagues at the University of Georgia and University of Florida have discovered that a certain species of beneficial nematode is capable of providing high levels of peachtree borer control. The nematodes are capable of providing high levels of suppression when applied curatively or in a prophylactic approach. The technology is being adopted by industry.

2. Beneficial nematodes cue into electrical currents: Beneficial insect-killing nematodes are safe environmentally friendly natural insecticides. To maximize pest control efficacy, it is important to understand the basic biology of these nematodes. ARS scientists from the Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Lab, Byron, Georgia, in cooperation with ARS scientists in Manhattan, Kansas, the University of California, Davis, and Wake Forest University, have been investigating the basis for how nematodes find an insect pest to infect in the soil. The researchers discovered that the nematodes respond to small electrical currents; this may be one way that the nematodes cue into their host or their host’s habitat. Identification of factors that affect nematode infection and host-finding leads to enhanced insect suppression.

3. Aphids move to avoid predation: The black pecan aphid feeds on pecan leaves causing the leaves to turn yellow and eventually fall prematurely from trees. This energy drain on the pecan tree is costly to nut production for growers. ARS scientists (Byron and Tifton, GA) have shown that black pecan aphids prime leaves for feeding by inducing leaf yellowing –‘chlorosis’. However it takes about 2 days to induce visible chlorosis all while the aphid remains sedentary at the same site. This could subject the aphid to higher predation because it needs to stay put to take advantage of the chlorotic site it developed. One way that the black pecan aphid may avoid predators is by moving to areas of the leaf that are not searched as often by predators. ARS scientists collaborating with University of Georgia scientists have documented that about 50% of black pecan aphids migrate to the upper leaf surface presumably to avoid predation. Almost all aphids of the other two species feeding on pecan are found on the underside of the leaf where predators forage more frequently. A better understanding of this pest’s biology improves the ability to implement alternative control strategies to prevent the black pecan aphid from damaging pecan leaves.

5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
More than 33% of commercial pecan acreage is managed on small farms (< $250,000). Pest management research activities, such as biological control studies, that are conducted by ARS scientists at the Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Lab, Byron, Georgia, may be of substantial benefit to growers on small farms with limited resources.

6.Technology Transfer

Number of Active CRADAs1
Number of the New/Active MTAs (providing only)1
Number of Invention Disclosures Submitted1
Number of New Patent Applications Filed1

Review Publications
Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Cottrell, T.E., Jackson, M.A., Wood, B.W. 2008. Virulence of Hypocreales fungi to pecan aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in the laboratory. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 99:312-317.

Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Cottrell, T.E., Gardner, W.A., Leland, J., Behle, R.W. 2009. Mortality and mycosis of adult Curculio caryae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) following application of Metarhizium anisopliae: laboratory and field trials. Journal of Entomological Science. 44:24-36.

Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Cottrell, T.E., Mizell III, R.F., Horton, D.L., Davis, J. 2009. A novel approach to biological control with entomopathogenic nematodes: Prophylactic control of the peachtree borer, Synanthedon exitiosa. Biological Control. 48:259-263.

Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Campbell, J.F., Lewis, E.E., Elkon, J.M., Kim-Shapiro, D.B. 2009. Directional movement of parasitic nematodes in response to electrical current. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 100:134-137.

Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Rojas, M.G., Morales Ramos, J.A., Lewis, E.E., Tedders, W.L. 2008. Effects of host nutrition on virulence and fitness of entomopathogenic nematodes: lipid and protein based supplements in Tenebrio molitor diets. Journal of Nematology. 40:13-19.

Fushing, H., Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Campbell, J.F., Lewis, E. 2008. State-space based mass event-history model I: many decision-making agents with one target. Annals of Applied Statistics. 2:1503-1522.

Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Grewal, P. 2008. Entomopathogenic nematodes and insect management. In: Capinera, J.L., editor. Encyclopedia of Entomology. 2nd edition. Dordrecht:Springer. p. 1336-1340.

Cottrell, T.E., Shapiro Ilan, D.I. 2008. Naturally-occurring pathogens and invasive insects. In: Hajek, A.E., et al., editors. Use of Microbes for Control and Eradication of Invasive Arthropods. New York, NY:Springer. p. 19-32.

Cottrell, T.E., Fuest, J., Horton, D.L. 2008. Influence of Prunus spp., peach cultivars and bark damage on oviposition choices by the lesser peachtree borer (Lepidoptera: Sesiidae). Environmental Entomology. 37:1508-1513.

Cottrell, T.E., Wood, B.W., Ni, X. 2009. Chlorotic feeding injury by the black pecan aphid (Hemiptera: Aphididae) to pecan foliage promotes aphid settling and nymphal development. Environmental Entomology. 38:411-416.

Christen, J.M., Campbell, J.F., Zurek, L., Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Lewis, E.E., Ramaswamy, S.B. 2008. Role of symbiotic and non-symbiotic bacteria in carbon dioxide production from hosts infected with Steinermena riobrave. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 99(1): 35-42. Doi:

Chen, Y., Ni, X., Cottrell, T.E., Wood, B.W., Buntin, G. 2009. Changes of oxidase and hydrolase activities in pecan leaves elicited by black pecan aphid (Hemiptera: Aphididae) feeding. Journal of Economic Entomology 102:1262-1269.

Last Modified: 9/1/2015
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