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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Research Project #438921

Research Project: Cucurbitacins for Management of Cucumber Beetles

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-22000-315-008-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2020
End Date: Dec 31, 2024

The objective is to combine analytical and preparative chemistry to establish and optimize the attract-and-kill strategy for improved integrated pest management of cucumber beetles, the worst pests of vegetables in North America. Specifically, utilize a unique opportunity to develop and bioassay an effective 3-part attract-and-kill formulation combining an ARS-synthesized aggregation pheromone, with the cucurbitacins provided by South Dakota State University, functioning as a selective and powerful feeding stimulant to suppress pest beetle populations.

Cucurbitacins are large biomolecules abundant in the squash family. Cucurbitaceae that are bitter and therefore uncommon in edible parts of cultivated cucurbits. They are unique feeding stimulants to pest leaf beetles, spotted and striped cucumber beetles and corn rootworms. As such, in combination with distance attractants now synthesized by USDA ARS, they constitute a unique opportunity to combine for an effective 3-part attract-and-kill tactic for these key cucurbit and corn pests. The approach is to provide samples of several candidate bait materials to South Dakota State University, and to have them also provide ARS with the unique and pure cucurbitacins extracted and in their possession. This combination of analytical and preparative chemistry will position our labs to test and optimize the attract-and-kill strategy for improved integrated pest management.