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Biocontrol: Insect Projects

Insect Project Summaries

Project: Biology of the Vine mealybug, Planococcus ficus (Signoret), on grapes in the Coachella Valley
Principal investigator: Joe Ball and Kris Godfrey
Cooperators: Daniel Gonzalez, University of California, Riverside; Riverside County Department of Agriculture
Summary: The vine mealybug, Planococcus ficus (Signoret), has been responsible for major losses to commercial grape growers in the Coachella Valley since its discovery in 1994. Working closely with the University of California at Riverside and the Riverside County Department of Agriculture, we have been determining its life history on vines in this desert valley and attempting to evaluate the role of natural enemies.
Project: Cotton Aphid (Aphis gossypii Glover)
Principal Investigator: Kris Godfrey
Cooperators: Ray Yokomi, USDA,ARS, Parlier, CA; Lyle Carter, USDA, ARS, Shafter, CA; Don Steinkraus, University of Arkansas, Faayetteville, AR; and James Brazzle, UCCE, Bakersfield.
Summary: Efforts are underway to construct a natural enemy complex using natural enemies not currently found in California such that the cotton aphid is attacked in most if not all of the habitats that it occupies. This project is a cooperative effort that began in 1996 and includes CDFA-BCP, USDA-ARS, UC Cooperative Extension, and the University of Arkansas. To date, four species of natural enemies have been or are currently being tested in cotton, citrus, melons, and non-crop hosts. The three species which show the most promise are Aphelinus near paramali, Aphelinus gossypii Timberlake (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae), and Neozygites fresenii (Nowakowski) Batko (Zygomycetes: Neozygitaceae). Testing of these species in all habitats will be continued in 1999.
Project: Augmentative biological control using transplants
Principal investigator: C. Pickett
Cooperators: G. Simmons, USDA-APHIS, Brawley
SUMMARY: Work is being funded by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and we are demonstrating the use of transplants as a vehicle for augmenting parasites in spring melons. The Brawley USDA operation provides the majority of parasites for this project.
Project: Citrus/cotton study in the San Joaquin Valley
Principal investigator: C. Pickett
Cooperators: J. Rudig, Pink Bollworm Program,CDFA ; G. Simmons, USDA-APHIS, Brawley; J. Brown, Biological Control Program, CDFA.
SUMMARY: We are releasing large numbers of exotic parasites into citrus bordering cotton. We monitoring the impact of released parasites for one more summer. We hope to do releases of additional species next year and continue monitoring earlier release sites. We have as yet to release large numbers of Eretmocerus mundus. The USDA Brawley and Mission operations provide the majority of parasites for this operation. Work is being funded in part by the Cotton Pest Control Board
Project: Sentinel Plant Project, San Joaquin Valley.
Project: C. Pickett
Cooperators: Bill Abel, USDA-APHIS, Shafter; C. Hodson, CDFA, Shafter, J. Brown, Biological Control Program, CDFA
SUMMARY: Hibiscus plants inoculated with a fixed number of whiteflies are being used to measure the change in the SLWF parasite species composition and their impact on the whitefly population. This information, combined with other data, will be used to measure the long term impact of our release program in central California. Work is being funded by the Western Region USDA-APHIS.
Project: Refuge plants, San Joaquin Valley
Principal investigator: C. Pickett
Cooperators: J. Brown and B. Roltsch, Biological Control Program, CDFA
Summary: I am monitoring plant growth and parasite activity on several plants that may serve as perennial refuge sites for parasites in the San Joaquin Valley. Two home owners with large properties and Cal Organic Farms are maintaining plantings of purple potato vine, Lavatera, and Chuporosa, plants that support low numbers of Bemisia, are heavily parasitized by our exotic parasites, and are adapted to central California climate.
Project: Biological control of Giant Whitefly: Aleurodicus dugesii
Principal Investigator: C. Pickett
Cooperators: M. Rose, Montana State University, Dave Kellum, San Diego County Department of Agriculture
SUMMARY: Two natural enemies have been introduced into San Diego County for the control of giant whitefly. An eulophid, Entedononecremnus krauteri, collected by Mike Rose in Texas was released fall 1995 at the San Diego Zoo. It has persisted and spread throughout the Zoo. Dave Kellum, the San Diego County entomologist, has spread the parasite to other areas in San Diego County. Delphastus catalinae, (Coccinellidae) was released three years ago and is also being monitored.
Project: Foreign exploration for Lygus hesperus nymphal parasites
Principal investigator: C. Pickett

U. Kuhlmann, CABI Bioscience, Delemont Switzerland;L. Erytle, USDA-ARS, Newark, Delaware;
D. Coutinot, USDA-ARS, Montpelier, France; K. Casanave, Biological Control Program, CDFA
Summary: The foreign exploration and importation for parasites attacking L. hesperus is a new effort. In 1998 foreign explorers working for CABI Bioscience in Switzerland and the European Biological Control Laboratory (USDA-ARS) in France collected several thousand parasites. Some were released for the first time in the Sacramento area this last summer and the remainder will be released this coming spring. The goal of the current foreign exploration is to collect several populations of parasites in Europe and determine which will attack L. hesperus and survive under California climatic conditions.