Current Projects


These projects were funded by the Western IPM Center's 2021 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


Project Initiation

Being Selective in IPM: Novel Research to Reduce Risk and Advance Integration of Chemical and Biological Control

Isadora Bordini, University of Arizona

This proposal will develop new scientific information about the effects of numerous available cotton insecticides on non-target arthropods, including key predators critical to biological control in Arizona and California cotton. In addition, we will compile information on other non-target risks of these insecticides from available toxicological and risk assessment data, including risks to aquatic invertebrates, fish, birds, mammals, pollinators, and humans. After completion of this project, results will be used to update pest management guidelines for cotton in Arizona and California. This information will empower growers to choose insecticides based on safety to natural enemies, avoiding options that are disruptive to biological control and that result in additional sprays and economic losses. Our evidence suggests a high probability of future grower adoption of revised guidelines, and we estimate potential economic gains to cotton growers across both states at around $9 to $16 million per year.


Enhancing Biological Control of Citrus Sooty Mold Complex with Novel Ant Control Technology Using Entomopathogenic Nematode Water-Storing Hydrogels in an IPM Approach

Jia-Wei Tay, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Big-headed ants, Pheidole megacephala, are invasive ants that form a mutualistic relationship with phloem-feeding insect pests, which increases the probability of sooty mold disease affecting a wide range of agricultural crops. Broad-spectrum insecticide or fungicide applications provide poor control and result in negative impacts on human and environmental health. This project proposes a reduced-risk or biological-based integrated pest management approach utilizing entomopathogenic nematodes, natural enemies of many soil insects. We propose using a biodegradable alginate hydrogel to deliver high-moisture liquid sucrose bait by lacing it with entomopathogenic nematodes or boric acid as an “attract and kill” system to manage ant populations and reduce sooty mold.


Powdery Mildew Risk Associated with Hemp Production in the Pacific Northwest

Cynthia Ocamb, Oregon State University

This project will collect critical baseline data to understand the risk of powdery mildew occurrence on hemp and the IPM implications for both hemp and hop. Both hop and hemp can develop powdery mildew but the two fungi responsible have been thought to be uniquely pathogenic on their respective hosts: Golovinomyces spp.  in hemp and Podosphaera macularis in hop. However, in 2019 and 2020 we found natural infection of hemp by P. macularis in western Oregon. Given the expansion of hemp production in the Pacific Northwest, also the center of U.S. hop production, the occurrence of the hop powdery mildew fungus on hemp has profound management implications for both crops. This project will:

  • Quantify when, where, and to what extent powdery mildew occurs on hemp;
  • Characterize the virulence and putative origin of the hop powdery mildew fungus on hemp to inform disease risk assessment and quarantine policies;
  • Evaluate hemp lines for susceptibility to powdery mildew; and
  • Broadly communicate results to stakeholders


Developing Augmentative Biocontrol Programs for Northwest Tree Fruit

Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris, USDA-ARS Wapato, Washington

Apple and pear growers in the Pacific Northwest are experimenting with releasing natural enemies purchased from commercial insectaries. These releases typically target aphids, mealybugs, and pear psylla. Organic control options for these pests is limited and conventional orchardists struggle with pesticide resistance and obtaining adequate chemical coverage. Unfortunately, release recommendations are typically based on greenhouse use, in crops with small canopies, or in environments with higher humidity and lower temperatures than the unique arid tree fruit growing region of the PNW. Therefore, there is a need for scientifically based recommendations on best natural enemy choices, release rates, timings, and methods of delivery that are appropriate for these crop systems. This will need to be the work of a large-scale, multiyear project. The goal of the proposed project is to gather preliminary data with the long-term goal of increasing adoption and success of natural enemy releases for pest management in tree fruit.


Exploration of Native Entomopathogenic Nematodes Associated with Sod Webworm in Oregon Grass Seed Production

Navneet Kaur, Oregon State University

Oregon is the leading grass-seed-producing state in the nation, with over 400,000 acres in production annually. Grass seed growers have identified the sod webworm, also known as cranberry girdler, as the most problematic insect pest issue. This pest has a relatively wide host range, is persistent and inflicts damage across multiple grass seed species.  A limited number of insecticides are currently available, so alternative methods, including biological control agents such as entomopathogenic nematodes are needed. The objectives of this project are to conduct area-wide surveys in the commercial grass seed production systems to determine the occurrence and distribution of entomopathogenic nematode species in western Oregon, identify the isolated entomopathogenic nematodes using molecular techniques and maintain lab cultures for infectivity tests, and conduct infectivity trials using species identified during the survey and comparing their efficacy to the commercially available entomopathogenic nematode-based products against sod webworm under laboratory conditions.


Developing Effective Control Strategies for Rat-Tail Fescue in Pacific Northwest Prairies

Sarah Hamman, Ecostudies Institute, Olympia Washington

Rat-tail fescue (Vulpia myuros) is a non-native, cool-season annual grass that poses an increasing threat to native grasslands along the Pacific Coast. Similar to other early season annual grasses, V. myuros thrives on disturbance (including fire) and can displace native species through direct competition, allelopathic compounds and by forming a dense thatch layer which impedes the establishment of native plants. Grass-specific herbicides have not been effective in controlling V. myuros but preliminary trials suggest that vinegar may be a viable alternative, particularly in post-burn areas where thatch is limited. Pre-emergent herbicides have also demonstrated efficacy in controlling V. myuros and may be used in combination with post-emergent agents. We will collate existing data from a suite of small-scale, site-specific trials conducted over the last five years in western Washington and Oregon to develop best management practice guidelines for treating V. myuros. We will also complete an herbicide application experiment testing both pre- and post-emergent herbicides on V. myuros infestations across four sites.


Work Groups

American Pacific Islands Collaboration Team/Work Group Meeting and Pesticide Safety Train-the-Trainer Workshop

Zhiqiang Cheng, University of Hawaii

This project will continue the efforts of the American Pacific Islands Collaboration Team/Work Group to fulfill priorities identified in a needs assessment previously funded by the Western IPM Center. Specifically, we will hold a face-to-face train-the-trainer workshop to address priority areas previously identified; support face-to-face, virtual meetings and online communication; and collaborate in efforts to develop educational materials and needs for future trainings.


Developing an IPM Multi-Stakeholder Group for California Rice

Whitney Brim-DeForest, University of California

California rice systems have more herbicide-resistant weed species than any other crop or region in the United States. Although crop rotations are one of the most effective IPM tools for managing resistance, rotations are rarely practiced in California rice. One of the biggest impediments to adoption is the unknown economic impacts (both positive and negative) of changing to a new crop or cropping system. Many rice growers lack the information and tools necessary to make this decision. This project will develop a stakeholder work group focused on understanding the feasibility and impact of crop rotation as an IPM tool in rice, with a focus on economics, and to plan for long-term research projects that address the specifics of weed management and weed population dynamics.


Building Continuity Across State Invasive Plant Lists: Predicting Invasion Risk of Horticultural Plants

Doug Johnson, California Invasive Plant Council

Prevention is a key IPM approach for stopping the spread of invasive plants. Because many plants have an extensive lag phase before becoming invasive, prevention can be strengthened by predicting which plants may become invasive in the future in a given region. The Plant Risk Evaluator is an online assessment tool designed to predict the risk of plants becoming invasive. A primary focus of the tool has been on ornamental plants since horticulture has been a top pathway for introduction of non-native plants that later become invasive. This project will form a multi-state work group to expand the use of the Plant Risk Evaluator tool to guide listing of invasive plants and help prevent them from being introduced through horticulture and possibly expand the use of the tool to rate and “green light” ornamentals that do not pose a high risk of becoming invasive.


Outreach and Implementation

IPM for Western Managed Pollinator Protection Plans

Andony Melathopoulos, Oregon State University

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandates that states develop Managed Pollinator Protection Plans (MP3s) in order to improve pollinator health. In response, a number of states have come together under a national MP3 Working Group, including Western states included in this proposal, to develop common educational material to increase adoption of MP3s and develop uniform assessment tools. By working together we have identified two priorities for the Western Region: 1) education targeting right-of-way vegetation management and 2) better integration of MP3 practices with IPM. This project will develop a training module for licensed pesticide applicators on how to manage rights-of-way to encourage pollinator habitat and a series of four case studies in Oregon and New Mexico to help land managers better conceptualize how IPM and MP3s could be integrated in practice.  


South American Palm Weevil Outreach and Extension

Sonia Rios, University of California

The South American palm weevil, Rhynchophorus palmarum, has the potential to cause significant damage to native and non-native palms in California. Not only are urban, beach and desert landscapes throughout California changing as a result of this pest, the estimated $70 million ornamental palm growing areas may be under additional regulatory scrutiny as it spreads. In addition, the insect has the potential to impact the commercial date industry in counties adjacent to heavily infested San Diego, as the weevil is known to attack the agriculturally important date palm that produces Deglet Noor and Medjool dates. This project will provide training to mitigate the South American palm weevil’s deleterious impacts to three target audiences: native habitat managers from public and private lands, urban ornamental tree growing and management sectors, including homeowners, and date producers.