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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Byron, Georgia » Fruit and Tree Nut Research » Research » Research Project #439287

Research Project: Novel Approaches for Managing Key Pests of Peach and Pecan

Location: Fruit and Tree Nut Research

Project Number: 6042-22000-024-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 1, 2020
End Date: Sep 30, 2025

Objective 1: Develop alternative control strategies for the pecan weevil based on enhanced production, formulation delivery, and efficacy of microbial control agents, as well as improved fundamental knowledge of entomopathogens: Subobjective 1a. Determine the efficacy of biocontrol agents in suppressing the pecan weevil. Subobjective 1b. Investigate the basic biology and ecology of biological control agents. Subobjective 1c. Investigate improved methods of nematode pheromone production. Objective 2: Develop control strategies for pecan aphids using banker plants, optimization of chlorosis-impeding plant bioregulators, and the use of microbial control agents: Subobjective 2a. Assessment of banker plants for control of pecan aphid spp. in orchards. Subobjective 2b. Optimize use of plant bioregulators to manage M. caryaefoliae injury. Subobjective 2c. Implement microbial control agents for pecan aphid management. Objective 3: Develop alternative control strategies for key peach pests (plum curculio, sesiid borers, and stink bugs) via reduced-risk insecticides, barriers, mating disruption and application of entomopathogenic nematodes: Subobjective 3a. Determine efficacy of reduced-risk insecticides against stink bugs. Subobjective 3b. Determine efficacy of physical and insecticidal barriers against peach pests. Subobjective 3c. Use mating disruption to manage sesiid borers. Subobjective 3d. Develop entomopathogenic nematodes for control of key peach pests.

Pecan and peach are important horticultural crops that can suffer severe losses in yield due to insect damage. The overall goal of this project is to provide economically and environmentally sound pest management strategies for control of key insect pests of pecan and peach. Objectives include alternative control strategies for key pecan pests (pecan weevil and pecan aphids) and key peach pests (plum curculio, sesiid borers, and stink bugs). Suppression of pecan weevil will focus on developing microbial control tactics including integrated entomopathogen applications and enhanced entomopathogen efficacy through improved delivery and formulation. Additionally, pertinent basic studies on entomopathogen foraging dynamics and production technology will be addressed. Management strategies for pecan aphids will 1) optimize usage of chlorosis-impeding plant bioregulators against the black pecan aphid, 2) incorporate banker plants into orchards for pecan aphid management and 3) implement efficacious microbial control tactics. Suppression of key peach pests via reduced-risk insecticides, physical and insecticidal barriers, mating disruption, and application of entomopathogenic nematodes will be examined. Anticipated products from this research include novel alternative pest management tactics involving microbial biocontrol agents, mating disruption, plant bioregulators, or other innovative strategies, improved methods for production, formulation, and delivery of biocontrol agents, and the filling of key knowledge gaps in basic insect pest and natural enemy biology and ecology.