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Researchers Develop Integrated Controls for Potato Pests

By Kathryn Barry Stelljes
May 16, 2001

The key to protecting potatoes from insects in the Pacific Northwest may be a combination of pest-specific insecticides and biological control agents. Agricultural Research Service scientists in Wapato, Wash., are looking for the best mix to help growers.

The biggest threat is leaf roll virus, carried by green peach aphids. ARS entomologist Lawrence Lacey is evaluating a fungus and a parasite to see if they are more effective together against aphids. In other situations, the two dampened, rather than enhanced, the effect of the other.

Another combination--the fungus Beauveria bassiana and a strain of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis--provides good control of a secondary pest, the Colorado potato beetle. Although not usually a big problem in the Pacific Northwest, researchers fear damage from the beetle could increase as growers move away from broad-spectrum pesticides.

Other research at the lab aims to find the best aphid-specific pesticides to use in combination with the biological controls.

An article on this research appears in the May issue of Agricultural Research, the agency's monthly magazine.

ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientific contacts: Lawrence A. Lacey or David R. Horton, ARS Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory, Wapato, Wash., phone (509) 454-6550, fax (509) 454-5646, or

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