Pest Management Research Grants Awarded 2018

Back to Funded Pest Management Research Grants (2013 - present)

Project Summaries

  • Reducing pesticide use in citrus by capitalizing on previously-unrecognized innate resistance in mandarin species

    The current University of California Integrated Pest Management citrus guidelines are based on years of careful research in oranges, Citrus sinensis, and have not been updated to accommodate the recent dramatic increase in mandarin acreage. This project builds on surprising insights gained from analyses of the Citrus Grower Database that suggests that some mandarin species have a hitherto unrecognized innate resistance to scarring by forktailed katydids, citrus thrips and citrus cutworms. Field experiments have confirmed that tango mandarins, a common variety of C. reticulata, are resistant to katydids. This project will test varieties of two more mandarin species (clementines, C. clementina, and C. satsumas, C. unshui); and will explore the mechanisms of resistance using field and laboratory experiments. The results will help to eliminate unnecessary applications of insecticides including pyrethroids and organophosphates applied to mandarins that are naturally resistant to direct pest damage.

    Media contact: Kathy Keatley Garvey, 530-754-6894,

  • Reducing fumigant use in processing tomato by enabling use of resistant cultivars to manage Fusarium diseases

    The overall goal of this project is to reduce fumigant-based management of Fusarium wilt, and a new disease, Fusarium stem and crown rot, in processing tomato. Producers use metam-sodium and metam-potassium, as well as 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D) to control these diseases. Specific objectives of the project are to: (1) Reduce current fumigant use for Fusarium wilt and Fusarium crown and root rot by enabling resistant cultivar selection through rapid DNA-based diagnosis; (2) Prevent increasing fumigant use for Fusarium wilt by preserving resistant cultivar efficacy; (3) Reduce fumigant use for a new Fusarium crown rot by identifying diagnostic traits and resistant cultivars; and (4) Disseminate this information to enable fumigation reductions.

    Media contact: Diane Nelson, senior writer, 530-752-1969,

  • Reducing risks associated with fumigation by improving current heat treatment and localized treatment technologies

    The temperature and heating time that are required during heat treatment to achieve drywood termite control could be significantly reduced by incorporating volatile adjuvants. The end product of this project will be a novel method to make heat treatment possible with a minimal amount of heat damage. This could lead to more frequent adoption of heat treatment for whole structures or intermediate-scale treatments for drywood termites.

    By incorporating volatile adjuvants, control efficacy of localized insecticide treatments targeting drywood termites could be maximized. Some volatile oils and the termite trail pheromone component are known to attract drywood termites from a distance. Control efficacy of currently used methods can be improved by "pulling" the termites to the insecticide deposits injected. This could potentially lead to more frequent adoption of localized treatment as an effective / economical method when the infestation is localized.

    Media contact: Sarah Nightingale, Senior Public Information Officer, 951-827-4580,

  • To spray or not to spray? Using small cheap IR sensors to automate pest ant counts

    Ants form mutualisms with honeydew producing pests, such as the Asian citrus psyllid. Ants protect pests from natural enemies in return for honeydew. This mutualism is highly disruptive to IPM and biocontrol as ants significantly reduce attacks on pests by natural enemies, which results in higher pest densities and more sprays to control pests and ants. Because chlorpyrifos is under review, DPR has supported work on the development of biodegradable hydrogels for ant control. However, if alternative ant control technologies are to be implemented effectively, we need to be able to accurately monitor ant activity and treat when action thresholds are crossed. These researchers have developed small infrared (IR) sensors that can "count" ants moving in feeding trails. They have determined an action threshold for ant control. Ant count data will be wirelessly transmitted from IR sensors to smart devices so pest managers can make highly targeted pesticide applications to treat ants in specific areas when needed.

    Media contact: Sarah Nightingale, Senior Public Information Officer, 951-827-4580,

  • Reducing pesticide risk by using drones to enhance performance of biological control

    To reduce the use of and risk from high-risk pesticides, the performance and practical feasibility of alternative pest management tactics must be improved. Small drones provide a unique opportunity to minimize reliance on pesticides and therefore the associated health and environmental risks. Through a unique collaboration between aerospace engineers and entomologists at UC Davis, this project will further develop and thoroughly test an existing prototype and accompanying software of a drone-mounted dispenser of predatory mites, important natural enemies of spider mites. The prototype and software will be developed to optimize targeted releases of predatory mites by accounting for wind speed/direction, drone altitude, and speed. Spider mites are among the most pesticide resistant arthropod pests and also have a very wide host range. This project addresses a major need – novel high-performance tools/technologies as alternatives to high-risk pesticides.

    Media contact: Christian Nansen, 530-752-2728,

For content questions, contact:
Jordan Weibel
1001 I Street, P.O. Box 4015
Sacramento, CA 95812-4015

John Gerlach
1001 I Street, P.O. Box 4015
Sacramento, CA 95812-4015
Phone: (916) 445-3909