Current Projects


These projects were funded by the Western IPM Center's 2024 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



Development 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

Project Director State: Montana       

Cooperating States: New York, Oregon

Summary: Vertebrate pests, including wildlife such as rodents, ungulates, birds and reptiles, affect all of us – no matter where we live or what we do. Integrated management of vertebrate pests is generally overlooked as an IPM discipline partly due to the variable and isolated nature of pest infestations and scarcity of expertise in the Land Grant system. However, with an increase in conflicts between vertebrate pests and people, integrated vertebrate pest management is needed now more than ever. Our project team is a very diverse and skilled group of stakeholders engaged in bridging the gap between pesticide safety education and IPM. We recently assessed the needs and desires of extension educators to determine the content and desired format of educational resources on integrated vertebrate pest management and are currently reviewing and compiling IPM educational materials (such as fact sheets, videos, etc.) identified in the needs assessment or recognized by our team. Through a preliminary assessment of the survey results, Western Region respondents expressed a strong interest in the development of an online course on integrated management of vertebrate pests. 


Inspiring Change in Western Cranberry Grower Renovation Habits to Prevent Invasive False Blossom Disease and Blunt Nose Leafhopper 

Center Priority Areas: IPM Culture and Capacity; Invasive Species

Project Director: Dr. Laura Kraft, Washington State University

Project Director State: Washington   

Cooperating States: New Jersey, Oregon

Summary: The phytoplasma called False Blossom Disease threatens cranberries on the East Coast and in Wisconsin. The disease causes permanent yield loss in these perennial plants, which must then be removed. False Blossom Disease can be spread either through nursery cuttings, like those used to replant or ‘renovate’ a cranberry bog, or via an insect vector, the Blunt Nose Leafhopper. Currently, there are no recorded cases of the disease on the West Coast and it is uncertain if the insect vector already exists here. Communication with growers in Washington and Oregon about this pest-disease system found they have a lack of knowledge and are showing a deep hesitancy to change renovation behavior to help prevent these potential invasive species. We propose developing new communication tools to serve West Coast cranberry growers that focus on the social-emotional connection that growers have with their East Coast counterparts through the OceanSpray network. We will work with researchers at Rutgers who have access to infested field sites and growers suffering from the symptoms of this disease-pest complex. The Rutgers team will create videos on how to identify false blossom disease symptoms, how to manage the disease by removing entire plants and provide interviews with growers in New Jersey about their experiences managing the disease. We expect that seeing their East Coast peers discussing how this disease-pest system has serious implications to their farming and yields will incentivize change in Western growers.


Adopting Integrated Pest Management and Training Opportunities for Future Mosquito and Vector Control Professionals at a Utah State Prison and an Alternative High School in Wyoming 

Center Priority Areas: Biological Control of Pests; IPM for Indigenous, Insular and Isolated People; Urban Pest Management 

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

Project Director State: Utah

Cooperating States: Wyoming

Summary: This project will focus on two populations: an underserved community (an incarcerated population) located at the newly built Utah State Correctional Facility, which is surrounded by rural wetland habitats near the Great Salt Lake in Utah, and an alternative high school, Summit Innovations School, in Jackson, Wyoming. Through this project, the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District and Teton County Weed and Pest Control District aim to increase the adoption of integrated pest management, primarily targeting mosquitoes, by educating students, inmates and correctional staff about IPM. An educational program within the prison will educate inmates and staff about mosquitoes, mosquito-borne pathogens, IPM and the wetland habitats (ecology, biology, environmental science) surrounding the facility. A fish-rearing program for the biological control of mosquitoes around the prison will also be implemented. Vocational skills and supplemental training will be given to inmates to attempt to increase future career opportunities post-release. At Summit Innovations School, an education program for students will grow young professionals interested in biology, entomology, public health, mosquitoes and vectors, the environment and other science-related fields and increase the professional workforce in mosquito and vector control through training and teaching. The final objective of this project is to develop IPM best management practices that can be used nationally at other locations with similar problems.



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: Jenell Jackson, Salmon River Restoration Council

Project Director State: California

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 Mid Klamath region warrants its own invasive species management area due to conditions unique to the Klamath Mountains such as remote location, rugged terrain and tribal sovereignty. This group promotes a non-chemical approach to invasive species management in respect to tribal ordinances against herbicide use. The work group will continue to build partnerships and work towards our 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 ramping up in-person collaboration regarding non-native and native plant identification, mapping, plant removal (timing and methods), as well as developing shared protocols and providing learning opportunities to the people of the Klamath River watershed in California.


Western Invasive Plant Risk Evaluation Network 2024: Strengthening Early Detection Communication 

Center Priority Areas: IPM Culture and Capacity; Invasive Species

Project Director Information

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

Project Director State: California       

Cooperating States: Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington

Summary: The Western Invasive Plant Risk Evaluation Network is an interstate work group established in 2021. The Network generates risk assessments across five states for plants that may become invasive and provides a forum for sharing information on new plants of potential concern. Network collaborators include conservation land managers, the nursery industry, university extension services, environmental non-profits and public agencies, all of whom benefit from the risk evaluations and communications associated with the project. 

Regionally specific risk evaluations are especially valuable because many plants have an extensive lag phase before becoming invasive and because invasiveness varies across environments. Our Network improves our ability to prevent the spread of invasive plants by serving as an early detection communication network and supports the evaluations of high priority potentially invasive plants. The online Plant Risk Evaluator tool is the primary tool the Network uses. This project will facilitate the evaluation of an additional 30 species for Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona; train at least three additional evaluators on the Plant Risk Evaluator tool and two additional horticultural reviewers; recruit partners and public gardens to join the “Public Gardens as Sentinels against Invasive Plants” program and utilize database information from the program to help assess plants for potential invasiveness; provide a forum for state partners to share information about new regional invasive species; and complete the transition of the Plant Risk Evaluator webtool to new content management software to ensure long-term sustainability of the tool. 


Implementation of Endangered Species Act Pesticide Mitigations: Developing Localized Solutions for Diverse Cropping Systems in Washington and Oregon 

Center Priority Areas: IPM Culture and Capacity; IPM and Ecosystem Services

Project Director: Dr. Dani Lightle, Oregon State University

Project Director State: Oregon          

Cooperating States: Washington

Summary: Agriculture in Oregon and Washington is exceptionally diverse, producing over 200 specialty crops. This diversity presents unique challenges for the U.S. EPA’s development of pesticide mitigation measures for protecting species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

While Oregon and Washington share implementation challenges with other parts of the United States, they are unique because of the diversity of specialty crops and growing regions, coupled with the diversity of endangered species and habitats within these states. Over the past year, stakeholders in Oregon and Washington have begun discussing the challenges to implementation and a growing consensus is emerging that success depends on regionally focused efforts. We propose bringing these conversations together through a work group to gather farmers, conservation practitioners, species biologists, pesticide applicators, regulators, researchers and tribal representatives and outline the key components for balancing resource conservation, species conservation, and agricultural production by leveraging the learnings of successful IPM, conservation and stewardship programs.  We will hold four regionally focused one-day workshops across Oregon and Washington to identify areas of confusion and workable components of EPA’s proposed national mitigations and compile regional knowledge around existing conservation programs, best management practices, stewardship activities and IPM programs to inform the need or format of tailored mitigations. A fifth workshop will bring together the learnings from the four regional workshops to help stakeholders characterize needs, develop evaluation criteria for incorporating local efforts into a regional approach, and identify the key knowledge gaps to implementing regionally tailored mitigations for compliance with ESA labeling. 



Assessing the Emergence of Fungicide Resistance in Botrytis Populations Associated with Vegetable Transplants of California

Center Priority Areas: IPM for Pest-Resistance Management

Project Director: Dr. Ruchika Kashyap, University of California, Davis

Project Director State: California 

Summary: Over the past two decades, vegetable production in California has shifted from direct seeding to planting vegetable seedlings as transplants, creating a new type of agricultural production in the state that generates significant economic returns. The demand for year-round, high-quality vegetables drove this transition. However, several diseases pose recurrent management challenges to transplant production, causing economic losses to stakeholders. Currently, Botrytis blight is a major disease concerning vegetable transplant growers in California’s Central Valley and Central Coast, impacting numerous crops like processing tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and others. To manage this disease, growers mainly rely on fungicide applications and use multiple products during the short production period before shipping vegetable seedlings to the field. Several challenges arise from the frequent application of products with a single site of action and fungicides with medium to high risk of resistance development, leading to shifts in the sensitivity of Botrytis population to the applied fungicides. In addition, its genetic diversity and short life cycle make Botrytis cinerea more prone to developing fungicide resistance, posing environmental and management concerns. This project aims to evaluate and confirm the presence of resistance in the B. cinerea population to commonly used fungicides in California's vegetable transplant industry. Preliminary findings indicate the presence of potential resistance, particularly to azoxystrobin, and wider screening is needed to monitor the sensitivity and confirm the presence of resistance to several applied fungicides. The outcomes of this project will help define management decisions, grower recommendations and the adoption of alternative control measures in vegetable transplants.


Integrating Fuel Reduction Practices and Restoration into IPM for Invasive Annual Grasses 

Center Priority Areas: IPM and Ecosystem Services; Invasive Species; IPM in Changing Landscapes

Project Director: Dr. Justin Valliere, University of California, Davis 

Project Director State: California       

Summary: This project will develop a novel approach for combatting weeds in working and natural lands by harnessing fuel-reduction practices and native plant restoration to control weeds and prevent reinvasion. Some of the worst weeds of wildlands in the Western United States are invasive annual grasses, which have severely altered – or in some instances completely replaced – a number of native ecosystems. In many Western ecosystems, woodlands exist within a matrix of invasive annual grasslands. In these woodlands, reducing fuel loads is a high management priority to mitigate the risk of high-severity fires and one approach is to thin and gather woody debris and burn these in controlled fires. We propose that these pile burns can be taken advantage of to kill grasses and other weeds in the soil seedbank. Further, by replanting these burned areas with native species, we can increase invasion resistance and enhance ecosystem services. We will develop a protocol for integrating pile burns and replanting into IPM for invasive-dominated oak woodlands in California by:

  • Surveying stakeholders to evaluate current practices for fuel reduction in mixed grassland-woodland landscapes.
  • Monitoring the impact of pile burns on weed cover and soil seed banks.
  • Establishing restoration trials within burn scars to determine which species and planting approach is most effective for preventing reinvasion.
  • Develop a protocol for integrating fuel reduction practices and replanting into IPM for weed-dominated ecosystems.

By focusing on multiple management stages, this approach could provide practitioners with a useful and efficient tool for meeting multiple land management goals, including reducing fire risk, enhancing biodiversity and improving forage. 


Adapting Attract-and-Kill Methodology to Improve Mosquito IPM 

Center Priority Areas: IPM for Pest-Resistance Management; New Technologies to Manage Pests; Urban Pest Management

Project Director: Dr. Gregory White, Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District

Project Director State: Utah  

Cooperating States: Wyoming

Summary: Mosquito-borne diseases that used to be major problems, like yellow fever and malaria, have been eliminated from the United States through IPM but new challenges have appeared and new pathogens have arrived. IPM strategies for mosquitoes target different life stages of these insects, with many techniques focusing on eliminating juveniles. This strategy has been proven to reduce mosquitoes and diseases they carry, however, there are many instances where additional methods are needed to control adult mosquitoes. As flying insects, adult mosquitoes are harder to target than larval mosquitoes and adult mosquito suppression is a weak link in mosquito IPM due to limited pesticide application methods, few classes of active ingredients, rising insecticide resistance, cultural changes, the regulatory climate and environmental barriers. Attract-and-kill strategies have been widely successful in the IPM of other insect pests including ants, cockroaches, beetles and filth flies and we propose to adapt the attract-and-kill strategy by using persistent, stationary devices to lure in mosquitoes through attractants and then expose them to different classes of insecticides not currently compatible with existing adult mosquito management. Previous studies in our lab on potential active ingredients have found three excellent candidates and the top one will be used in trials. Evaluations will be conducted in Utah and Wyoming, states that have different situations where new mosquito control methods are needed. Data from these attract-and-kill device trials will be shared with mosquito abatement districts widely, particularly those lacking manpower in their operations.