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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Commodity Protection and Quality Research

2011 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The overall objective is to develop practical and economical non-chemical insect control and disinfestation treatments that are safe and environmentally acceptable to replace methyl bromide for fresh and durable commodities. Objective 1: Develop a biologically-based management program using biological agents and cultural controls. • Sub-objective 1.A. Develop a biological control program for olive fruit fly using imported parasitoids • Sub-objective 1.B. Develop cultural control methods for olive fruit fly • Sub-objective 1.C. Develop a laboratory diet for olive fruit fly • Sub-objective 1.D. Improve control of navel orangeworm in orchards by using entomopathogenic nematodes that target over-wintering larvae • Sub-objective 1.E. Develop information for obtaining approval to release insect parasitoids into bulk-stored dried fruits and nuts. • Sub-objective 1.F. Determine the potential of commercially available or novel pathogens to control stored product Coleoptera. Objective 2: Develop a sex pheromone based program for use in the integrated management of navel orangeworm. • Sub-objective 2.A. Develop a stable formulation for the recently identified female sex pheromone • Sub-objective 2.B. Develop trapping data to calculate realistic navel orangeworm numbers based on standard sticky trap catch data. • Sub-objective 2.C. Determine the size of mating disruption treatment block necessary for reduction of navel orangeworm damage in almonds • Sub-objective 2.D. Determine fitness of females and potential impact of mating disruption at times of first and second flight. Objective 3: Develop alternative physical treatments for dried fruits, nuts, and fresh fruits • Sub-objective 3.A. Determine whether forced hot air combined with controlled atmospheres (CATTS) for stone fruit or forced hot air for oranges are viable quarantine treatments. • Sub-objective 3.B. Develop and field test low and high temperature treatments for dried fruit and nut insect pests. • Sub-objective 3.C. Develop and field test vacuum treatments using low cost, flexible storage containers for dried fruit and nut insect pests.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Postharvest insects cause significant economic loss to the agricultural sector, both through direct damage by feeding or product contamination, and by the cost of control programs. The export trade of certain horticultural products may be affected as well, with importing countries requiring quarantine treatments to prevent the introduction of exotic pests. Of particular concern to agriculture in the Western U.S. are field pests such as the olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae), navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella), and codling moth (Cydia pomonella), and storage pests such as the Indianmeal moth (Plodia interpunctella). Processors rely largely on chemical fumigants such as methyl bromide for insect disinfestation, but regulatory, environmental and safety concerns mandate the development of non-chemical alternatives. In addition, with the elimination of methyl bromide as a fumigant because of its ozone depletion, the development of alternatives is an immediate concern. This project addresses this problem with a broad collaborative approach, examining both preharvest, biologically based control strategies as well as physical postharvest disinfestation treatments. Areas of investigation will include the development of biological and cultural control practices for olive fruit fly, improved field control of navel orangeworm with mating disruption and entomopathogenic nematodes, improved sex pheromone of navel orangeworm, new microbial controls for stored product beetles, commercial-scale forced hot air control atmosphere treatment for stone fruits, volatile markers to identify suitable hot forced air treatments for citrus, and radio frequency heating, low temperature storage, vacuum treatments, and parasitoid releases for control of postharvest dried fruit and nut insects. New, non-chemical methods for control of these economically important pests will be the outcome of this research. Formerly 5302-43000-031-00D (03/08).

3. Progress Report
Olive fruit fly was found in olives along the eastern edge of the California Central Valley near orchards where olives are grown for canning. A parasitoid, Psyttalia humilis, was imported from Guatemala and released in these locations and shown to successfully reproduce in olive fruit fly larvae. Pre-flight adults and crawling larvae of olive fruit fly were shown to travel long distances on the ground and could disperse in this manner throughout olive orchards. A corrugated yellow pan trap was evaluated as attract-and-kill method for olive fruit fly control. These activities meet the project objective of developing biologically-based management programs using biological agents and cultural controls. Navel orangeworm is the primary pest of almonds and pistachios in California. Evaluation of infestation levels in preharvest almond samples from orchards using mating disruption as a pest management technique provided valuable information about variation in almond development. Laboratory data showed little difference in the effect of delayed mating on navel orangeworm fertility, while field data showed that mating disruption had a substantial impact on navel orangeworm under spring conditions. Researchers adapted two methods to assess pheromone component release ratios from moths and lure formulations. Chemical cleaning of lure matrices and the addition of stabilizers that slow pheromone degradation led to a formulation that trapped as many moths as female-baited traps for one week. Field experiments show that a decrease in trap efficiency begins when about 50 males have accumulated in a trap. The role of orchard sanitation in reducing overwintering populations of navel orangeworm in almonds and pistachios was evaulated. Studies continued on the development rate and survival of navel orangeworm in pistachios, in order to understand differential mortality and development of this pest on almonds and pistachios. This information will be used to predict peaks in flight activity and improve management. These activities meet the project objective of developing a sex pheromone based program for use in the integrated management of navel orangeworm. Research to develop non-chemical disinfestation treatments focused on cold storage for spotted wing drosophila on grapes, radio frequency treatments for cowpea weevil in dried pulses, and low temperature vacuum treatments for codling moth in fresh fruits. Maturity of peaches at harvest was found to influence the amount of ethylene the fruit produced after heat treatment. This may alter the impact of heat treatment on peach flavor. Heating of navel oranges during quarantine treatment caused an accumulation of compounds with a fruity aroma that negatively impacted flavor. Production of these compounds was greatest in the final 30 minutes of the treatment. These activities meet the project objective of developing alternative physical treatments for dried fruits, nuts, and fresh fruits. The above research addresses National Program objectives by reducing postharvest use of methyl bromide for perishable and durable commodities, and protecting postharvest commodities from pests through ecologically sound means.

4. Accomplishments

Review Publications
Yokoyama, V.Y., Rendon, P.A., Wang, X., Opp, S.B., Johnson, M.W., Daane, K.M. 2011. Response of Psyttalia humilis (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) to olive fruit fly (Diptera: Tephritidae) and conditions in California olive orchards. Environmental Entomology. 40:315-323.

Burks, C.S., Mclaughlin, J.R., Miller, J.R., Brandl, D.G. 2011. Mating disruption for control of Plodia interpunctella (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) in dried beans. Journal of Stored Products Research. 47(3):216-221.

Burks, C.S., Brandl, D.G., Higbee, B.S. 2011. Effects of natural and artificial photoperiods and fluctuating temperature on age of first mating and mating frequency in the navel orangeworm, Amyelois transitella. Journal of Insect Science. 11(48):1-11.

Wang, X., Johnson, M.W., Yokoyama, V.Y., Pickett, C.H., Daane, K.M. 2010. Comparative evaluation of two olive fruit fly parasitoids under varying abiotic conditions. Biocontrol. 56:283-293.

Siegel, J.P., Kuenen, L.P. 2011. Variable development rate and survival of navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella, Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) on pistachio. Journal of Economic Entomology. 104(2):532-539.

Jiao, S., Johnson, J.A., Tang, J., Tiwari, G., Wang, S. 2011. Dielectric properties of cowpea weevil, black eyed peas and mung beans with respect to the development of radio frequency heat treatments. Biosystems Engineering. 108(3):280-291.

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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