Southern university researchers find new ways to battle pests and save money with USDA Regional IPM grants

Researchers and educators will find new ways to fight pests in the future, thanks to nine new USDA Southern Region IPM grants.

These nine projects have just received funding from USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) as a result of a Regional Integrated Pest Management Grants competition managed by the Southern Region Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center.

In Georgia, that means finding solutions to small hive beetle infestations in beehives. In Texas, funds will go toward furthering IPM adoption in schools.

Of the 36 proposals submitted with requests totaling slightly over $4 million, 9 projects totaling $805,237 received funding. Each of the funded projects addresses pest management issues affecting several states and mentioned in published regional priorities submitted by state IPM coordinators, researchers and extension specialists.

One of those projects will assess how well IPM is reducing human and environmental risk in the region. In the first evaluation project funded by this grant program, Virginia Tech researchers will develop strategies for assessing IPM impact and use those strategies to evaluate the impact of selected IPM programs.

Dr. Keith Delaplane at the University of Georgia will study small hive beetle behavior to find the most effective way to limit their population in beehives. In light of the national initiative to conserve the nation’s pollinators, this project will research chemical-free management tactics, including hygienic queens, adult beetle traps, and predatory nematodes.

Texas A&M University researchers Raul Medina and Marvin Harris will experiment with pheromone blends to help manage the pecan casebearer, the most damaging pest to pecans. Another Texas project promises to increase IPM adoption among public school personnel. An “IPM cost calculator,” developed in 2004, has already helped maintenance personnel in schools in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico choose the most effective and least costly methods to reduce insect and rodent infestations. Most of the time, those methods do not involve the use of pesticides. In this year’s project, Texas Cooperative Extension specialists will refine the cost instrument to make it even more efficient. A third project will train floriculture and greenhouse employees in both Spanish and English on pesticide alternatives.

At the University of Kentucky, extension specialists plan to create a four-state pest trapping network to monitor common pest populations and alert surrounding states to upcoming threats. Pest alert and forecasting networks have proven to be quite effective and have reduced both the use of unnecessary pesticide applications and crop losses. University of Virginia researchers Chris Bergh, Catharine Mannion, Aijun Zhang and Justin Vitulio will explore ways to effectively use pheromone traps to manage the pink hibiscus mealybug.

The following is a list of projects funded by the Southern Region IPM grant:

—Evaluation of IPM in the Southern Region (Virginia Tech: George Norton)

—Multi-State Evaluation of School IPM Cost-Calculator and Training Model (Texas A&M University: Michael Merchant)

—Developing an IPM Program to Control Small Hive Beetles in Bee Hives (University of Georgia: Keith Delaplane)

—Enhancing IPM Programs Through Deregulation and Release of Genetically Modified Virginia-type Peanuts with Resistance to Sclerotinia Blight (Virginia Tech: Patrick Phipps)

—TALLER MIP (IPM Workshop)-a Bilingual Worker Education Program on Integrated Pest Management for the Southern Nursery and Floriculture Industry (Texas A&M University: Carlos Bogran)

—Development of the Regional Multi-State Insect Trapping Network for Use in Issuing Scouting Alerts and Predicting Potential Field Crop Insect Damage in the Heartland (University of Kentucky: Patricia Lucas)

—Molecular and Pheromone Studies of Acrobasis nuxvorella Neunzig (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) to Improve Pecan IPM (Texas A&M University: Raul Medina)

—Biotic Factors Associated with the Spread and Suppression of Pink Hibiscus Mealybug (Virginia Tech: J. Christopher Bergh)

—Synergistic Activity in Mixtures of Copper and Garlic-Derived Products to Enhance Control of Bacterial Spot of Peach (University of Georgia: Harald Scherm)

Abstracts and objectives for each of the funded proposals are available at

The Southern Region IPM Center is supported by a grant from USDA/CSREES and supports the 13 southern states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. For more information about the Southern Region IPM Center, visit

e-mail: [email protected]

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