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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Potential Role for Microbial Control of Orchard Insect Pests in Sustainable Agriculture

Authors
item Lacey, Lawrence
item Shapiro Ilan, David

Submitted to: International Journal of Food, Agriculture, and the Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2003
Publication Date: November 1, 2003
Citation: Lacey, L.A., Shapiro Ilan, D.I. 2003. The potential role for microbial control of orchard insect pests in sustainable agriculture. International Journal of Food, Agriculture, and the Environment. 1:326-331.

Interpretive Summary: Sustainable agriculture will rely increasingly on alternatives to conventional chemical insecticides for pest management that are environmentally friendly and reduce the amount of human contact with pesticides. Insect pathogens can be effective control agents, conserve biodiversity, and serve as alternatives to chemical insecticides under several conditions. The integration of microbial control of insects into integrated control programs will not only depend on compatibility with other biological control agents, but also with chemical methods of control, and the prevailing environmental conditions in a given cropping system and their effects on infectivity and persistence of the pathogens employed. There is excellent potential for combining microbial control with other soft technologies such as the use of mating disruption for codling moth control. The increased use of microbial control will depend on a greater acceptance by growers and the general public and an increased awareness of their attributes.

Technical Abstract: The need to reduce pesticide usage while maintaining adequate agricultural production has provided incentive for the development of cost effective alternatives to conventional chemical pesticides. The integrated pest management (IPM) strategy, in which natural enemies (parasites, predators and pathogens) of pest arthropods and other alternative measures play significant roles in crop protection, is one aspect of sustainable agriculture that attempts to minimize negative environmental impact, and other deleterious effects due to insecticides usage. Due to their specificity for insects and safety for vertebrates, insect pathogens including viruses, bacteria, fungi and nematodes are ideal candidates for incorporation into IPM where their effects on other natural enemies will be minimal as compared to most presently used chemical pesticides. The most common method of employing insect pathogens for successful insect control (also knowns as microbial control) is through augmentative means. In this review we provide an overview of microbial control of the key insect and mite pests in orchards, elucidate factors that influence their success or failure and indicate how they might be incorporated into IPM programs to control insect and mite pests of citrus, pome fruits, stone fruits and nuts.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014