Current Projects


These projects were funded by the Western IPM Center's 2023 grants. 

For more details about a project, or to find one not listed here, see the Recent Projects page or use the search function on the IPM Projects Interagency Database




Implementing Electrical Mulch for Weed Control in Vineyards and Blueberries

Center Priority Areas: IPM and Ecosystem Services, New Technologies to Manage Pests

Project Director: Dr. Erik Lehnhoff, New Mexico State University 

Cooperating States: New Mexico, Oregon

Project Summary: Weed control in crops such as wine grapes and blueberries is a significant expense. In these crops, weed management often consists of herbicide application and the use of plastic mulch. Herbicides may have off-target impacts, including the potential to negatively impact human health and the environment, and their overuse can lead to the evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds. Plastic mulches may be temporarily effective in preventing weed growth, but they have limited lifespans, are generally not biodegradable, and require landfill disposal. We have developed a novel weed control technique using low doses of electricity to prevent weed growth safely and effectively. While this technique has been demonstrated in xeriscaping and more recently in an annual crop, this will be the first implementation in perennial crops. The research objective is to evaluate electrical preemergent weed control efficacy in vineyards and blueberry, with research conducted in a vineyard in New Mexico and a blueberry field in Oregon, thereby evaluating the technology in two crops and two different eco-regions. 


Diversity and Seed Transmission of High Plains Wheat Mosaic Virus in Corn in the Pacific Northwest

Center Priority Area: Invasive Species

Project Director:  Dr. Lindsey du Toit, Washington State University

Cooperating States: Washington, Ohio

Project Summary: High Plains wheat mosaic virus is an emerging problem for the corn seed industry.  Recent evidence that the disease might have been introduced into several countries on sweet corn seed, and evidence that the risk of seed transmission might be greater on some corn genotypes, has led to implementation of phytosanitary restrictions on corn seed imported from the United States. In this grant, we will assess the diversity of High Plains wheat mosaic virus isolates affecting corn crops in the Pacific Northwest and evaluate the influence of corn genotype on seed transmission rates of the virus using susceptible and resistant cultivars. Understanding nucleotide sequence diversity of the isolates will aid seed-testing efforts by the U.S. National Seed Health System to develop a standardized protocol for High Plains wheat mosaic virus detection in corn seed. The protocol could also be used for harmonization of seed testing with regulatory agencies in other countries. The project is expected to generate foundational knowledge for developing IPM strategies to manage this emerging viral disease in corn and reduce the risk of seed transmission. 


The Development of an Effective Trapping System for the Invasive Greater Banded Hornet, Vespa tropica, in Guam

Center Priority Areas: IPM and Ecosystem Services; IPM for Indigenous, Insular and Isolated 

Project Director: Dr. Jacqueline Serrano, USDA-Agricultural Research Service

Cooperating States and Territories: Washington, Guam

Project Summary: Over the past decade, several hornet species have been introduced outside their native range from Europe and Asia and in 2016, the greater banded hornet, Vespa tropica, was detected in Guam. This newly invasive hornet poses threats to Guam’s agriculture and apiculture industries, as well as human health due to the stinging attacks. There have been numerous reports from island beekeepers that the hornets attack honeybees in large numbers, which has resulted in losses of multiple colonies. Due to the current distribution and a lack of effective resources to combat the invasive insects, greater banded hornet could become permanently established in Guam with significant negative consequences. The goal of this one-year project is to jumpstart this development of greater banded hornet trapping tools by conducting field tests of known and experimental traps and attractants, and beginning research into greater banded hornet pheromones. 


Optimizing Pheromone-based Monitoring Systems to Improve Corn Earworm Pest Management Practices in Hemp

Center Priority Areas: Biological Control of Pests; IPM and Ecosystem Services; New Technologies to Manage Pests

Project Director: Dr. Govinda Shrestha, Oregon State University

Cooperating States: Oregon, California

Project Summary: Corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea, injures a wide range of crops and has turned out to be one of the most important pests of outdoor-grown hemp in all places where production occurs. Larval feeding damages flower buds, the marketable portion of cannabinoid-type hemp, and can lead to significant economic loss to hemp flower bud and biomass yields. Monitoring is an important aspect to managing this pest, but little guidance exists to inform best management practices. This project will apply our understanding of the existing corn earworm pheromone trapping program in other commodities to improve scouting and economic-threshold development for hemp.  In this project, we will evaluate the relationships of corn earworm moths caught in pheromone-baited traps to corn earworm egg and larval populations on plants and to flower yield loss throughout the growing season; survey natural enemies of corn earworm eggs and larvae and determine their presence and natural role in aiding management of corn earworm populations; and develop corn earworm monitoring and scouting video tutorials to improve grower capacity to manage this pest.


Unlocking the Potential of Targeted Grazing for Management of Invasive Weeds on America’s National Forests with Behavioral Science and Adaptive Governance

Center Priority Areas: IPM Culture and Capacity; Invasive Species; IPM in Changing Landscapes

Project Director: Dr. Kelly Hopping, Boise State University

Project State: Idaho

Project Summary: Targeted grazing is an untapped vegetation-management tool to control invasive weeds in the American West. Research has found the practice is broadly effective for short-term reduction of invasive weeds and in promoting plant-community richness and diversity. Yet despite enthusiasm about its potential, implementation of targeted grazing is patchy. Uncertainties about the potential of the tool persist due to ecological variability, trade-offs with other conservation values and social and institutional obstacles. This project seeks to understand the potential of targeted grazing as part of an integrated pest management toolbox on America’s National Forests by utilizing behavioral science and adaptive governance frameworks. Through semi-structured interviews of U.S. Forest Service staff, we will investigate controls on individual agency staff behaviors that in turn influence the agency’s willingness and capacity to implement management practices such as targeted grazing. We have developed an integrated framework that combines existing knowledge of adaptive governance of the Forest Service with the Theory of Planned Behavior framework that has been used extensively within conservation social science. We will use this framework to develop an interview protocol and analyze the relationships between psycho-social factors, governance context and biophysical variables to not only better understand the controls on adaptive governance potential, but also to identify high leverage points for adoption of targeted grazing as a weed management tool.




Klamath Alliance for Regional Invasive Species Management

Center Priority Areas: IPM and Ecosystem Services; IPM for Indigenous, Insular and Isolated People; Invasive Species

Project Director: Tanya Chapple, Mid Klamath Watershed Council

Project State: California

Project Summary: This project will maintain capacity of the Klamath Alliance for Regional Invasive Species Management. The Alliance includes the Mid Klamath Watershed Council, Salmon River Restoration Council, Six Rivers National Forest, Klamath National Forest, Karuk Tribe, Yurok Tribe, Hoopa Tribe, California Department of Transportation, Siskiyou Resource Conservation District, Quartz Valley Indian Reservation, Scott River Watershed Council and the Cultural Fire Management Council. The work group addresses invasive species concerns crossing political boundaries of Humboldt and Siskiyou counties, National Forests, and the ancestral territories of the Karuk, Yurok, Hoopa and Shasta Tribes. The work group will continue to build partnerships and work towards a common goal to conserve native plant species and communities through the management of invasive species in the Klamath Region of California. Upcoming objectives for the Alliance include developing collaborative projects that adhere to our Regional Invasive Plants Management Strategy, increasing local capacity for native plant revegetation, developing shared protocols and providing learning opportunities to the people of the Klamath River watershed in California.


American Pacific Island Work Group Continuation

Center Priority Areas: IPM Culture and Capacity; IPM for Indigenous, Insular and Isolated People; Invasive Species

Project Director: Dr. Zhiqiang Cheng, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Cooperating States and Territories: Hawaii, American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam

Project Summary: This project will support the American Pacific Island Collaboration Team to meet and work collaboratively to fulfill priorities outlined in a needs assessment completed in 2019. Membership in the work group has expanded significantly to include extension educators and other industry representatives and our goal is to expand participation to include growers and other pesticide applicators. This project will support face-to-face and virtual meetings to address priorities identified by the needs assessment and subsequent planning meetings; deliver outreach education programs to stakeholders based on training provided during pesticide safety education Train-The Trainer sessions; develop educational materials and identify needs for future trainings meetings. A facilitator will ensure coordination of these efforts, maintain timelines, continued access to materials, facilitate collaboration and streamline communication. 


Western Invasive Plant Risk Evaluation Network

Center Priority Area: Invasive Species

Project Director:  Dr. Jutta Burger, California Invasive Plant Council

Cooperating States: California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington

Project Summary: This project supports the Western Invasive Plant Risk Evaluation Network, a work group aimed at preventing new invasive plants from getting a foothold in Western states. The Network generates risk assessments for plants that may become invasive and provides a forum for sharing information on new plants of potential concern. Key stakeholders include conservation land managers, the nursery industry, academia and public agencies. Because many plants have an extensive lag phase before becoming invasive, prevention can be strengthened by predicting which plant species pose the highest risk for becoming invasive in a given region. The Network broadens the use of the PRE assessment tool, which evaluates the invasive risk of horticultural and non-horticultural plants that have not yet established broadly. For 2023, we will conduct trainings and provide oversight for evaluations of 30 additional species;  continue meetings and communicating among partners; design and hold a half-day virtual workshop on ways to use PRE assessments to reduce introduction of invasive ornamentals through the nursery trade; and ensure the PRE tool’s longevity through continued enhancements of its web platform.





Assessing Educator Needs for Content, Format and Delivery of Educational Resources for Integrated Management of Vertebrate Pests

Center Priority Areas: IPM Culture and Capacity; IPM for Indigenous, Insular and Isolated People; Urban Pest Management

Project Director: Stephen Vantassel, Montana Department of Agriculture

Cooperating States: Montana, Oregon, Wyoming

Project Summary: Vertebrate pests include wildlife, non-native rodents, reptiles and birds. Management of these pests is generally overlooked as an IPM discipline due to the variable and isolated nature of pest infestations and a scarcity of expertise in the land-grant system. However, with an increase in conflicts between vertebrate pest and humans, vertebrate IPM strategies are needed now more than ever. Our team will assess the needs and desires of Extension Educators in the West for integrated vertebrate pest management material. We will compile and review current IPM educational materials for vertebrate pest management, including fact sheets, videos and other materials, to determine their merit for wider use or for revision or enhancement to address resource shortfalls. The assessment will include a specific focus on the Pacific Island Territories in collaboration with the Pacific Island Collaboration Team. Work group members and stakeholders will create an outline for an online course on integrated management of vertebrate pests and conduct a preliminary assessment of its utility with educators. 


Adopting Integrated Pest Management for Mosquito Suppression at a Newly Operational State Correctional Facility within Wetland Habitats Surrounding the Great Salt Lake

Center Priority Areas: Biological Control of Pests; IPM for Indigenous, Insular and Isolated People; IPM in New Places

Project Director: Dr. Michele Rehbein, Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District

Project State: Utah

Project Summary: This project will focus on the incarcerated population located at the newly built Utah State Correctional Facility, which is surrounded by remote wetland habitats near the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The facility opened in 2022 and concerns regarding mosquitoes quickly became apparent. Mosquitos are a nuisance and health concern to inmates and correctional staff, who lack the proper preventive and protection measures. Through this project, the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District will target mosquitos and other biting insects by educating inmates and correctional staff in IPM. We will create educational programs for inmates and staff about mosquitoes, mosquito-borne pathogens, IPM and the wetland habitats surrounding the prison. We will initiate a fish-rearing program for the biological control of mosquitoes around the correctional facility using the least chub, Iotichthys phlegethontis, a small, native fish species endemic only to Utah. Vocational skills and supplemental training will be given to inmates through this project to attempt to increase their career opportunities post-release. We will also develop IPM Best Management Practices that can be used nationally at other locations with similar problems.


Controlled Trials with Chicken Tractors to Manage Invasive Terrestrial Plants

Center Priority Areas: IPM Culture and Capacity; IPM for Indigenous, Insular and Isolated People; New Technologies to Manage Pests

Project Director: Casey Greenstein, Homer Soil & Water Conservation District

Project State: Alaska

Project Summary: This project will attempt to determine if chickens can provide effective weed management in an isolated, Arctic environment by measuring the diversity and abundance of non-native plants before and after the application of chickens to weed-infested plots. Previous observations have shown that two summers of free-ranging chickens successfully eliminated a dense stand of invasive orange hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum), while leaving a native meadow community intact. This project will use controlled trials of chickens confined to a smaller space and for shorter duration to see if similar results can be achieved. In Alaska, the cost of feeding and housing goats for nine months so they can be utilized for vegetation management for three summer months is a barrier to widespread adoption. By contrast, chickens can be used in the summer months for vegetation control, then meat birds slaughtered for food and hens moved into coops for the winter to provide eggs. If successful, this “chicken tractor” technique could be used within integrated pest management plans and provide a viable alternative to chemical treatments of difficult-to-control weed species in similar environments.