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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Parlier, California » San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center » Commodity Protection and Quality Research » Research » Research Project #425093

Research Project: Non-chemical Alternatives for Post-harvest Pests of Fresh Fruits, Dried Fruits, Tree Nuts, and Other Durable Commodities

Location: Commodity Protection and Quality Research

Project Number: 2034-43000-038-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 10, 2013
End Date: Jul 12, 2015

Objective 1: Determine biologically-based management programs using biological control agents and cultural controls. • Sub-objective 1A: Determine the potential of Habrobracon hebetor as a natural control of field populations of navel orangeworm. • Sub-objective 1B: Determine the feasibility of using a combination of sanitation and entomopathogenic nematodes for postharvest control of navel orangeworm in pistachios. • Sub-objective 1C: Disrupt symbiotic aspects of California grey ants (CAGA) with mealybug pests on grape vines to allow biological control of the mealybugs. Objective 2: Develop behaviorally based management programs using pheromone trapping, mass trapping, and mating disruption. • Sub-objective 2A: Develop attract and kill traps to control olive fruit fly in table olive orchards. • Sub-objective 2B: Determine efficacy for navel orangeworm control using mass trapping of males with sex pheromone. • Sub-objective 2C: Elucidate mechanisms of navel orangeworm mating disruption. Objective 3: Develop alternative physical treatments for fresh and durable commodities. • Sub-objective 3A: Determine potential of combinations of high temperature and controlled atmosphere for control of codling moth in walnuts.

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), various mealybugs, 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. 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 include the development of attract and kill traps for control of olive fruit fly, improved field control of navel orangeworm through mating disruption, mass trapping, sanitation and entomopathogenic nematodes, control of vineyard mealybugs through reduction of ant populations, combining forced hot air with controlled atmospheres to disinfest walnuts of codling moth, and the potential of the parasitoid Habrobracon hebetor as a natural control agent for navel orangeworm and Indianmeal moth. New, non-chemical methods for control of these economically important pests will be the outcome of this research.