IPM in Utah

State-by-State: IPM in UtahUtah map

Population: 2.9 million
Farm Operations: 18,100
Leading Agricultural Products
  • Livestock: Laying chickens, turkeys, beef, dairy
  • Crops: Hay, wheat, cherries, corn, peaches, barley, apples, safflower
IPM Adoption Mandates
  • All public, private and charter schools, including attached preschools, are required to use IPM pest-management practices. The law is enforced by local health departments.

See a photo essay on Utah IPM



Utah is one of the most urbanized states in the nation, with 90 percent of the population living on just 1.1 percent of the land. It’s also the second driest state, averaging less than 10 inches of rainfall a year, and has alkaline soils with low organic matter. And the risk of drought is high every year.

“These factors drive our cropping systems, and drive the way we develop IPM programs and research in Utah,” said Diane Alston, entomologist at Utah State University and the state IPM coordinator. “We focus on production crops – fruits and vegetables first and forage and feed crops second – and community IPM including green industry, urban ag and schools.”

Utah has a strong monitoring and preparedness program for invasive species like spotted wing drosophila, brown marmorated stink bug, Japanese beetle, and the emerald ash borer, which don’t yet have established IPM management options. Unlike some Western states, spotted wing drosphila and the stink bug – although present – have not yet caused economic damage in Utah. The Japanese beetle was eradicated and the ash borer hasn’t reached the state yet – its western-most detection is in Colorado.

The plum curculio, a fruit-destroying weevil, and the velvet longhorn beetle, are other insects of concern, and brown rot and plum pox virus are diseases growers and IPM researchers are watching closely.

“Brown rot is new for us,” explained Marion Murray, the IPM project leader in Utah. “We’re seeing it fruit orchards after late-summer hard rains. Plum pox virus is a concern because of the fruit here, but it hasn’t shown up in Utah yet.”

Other orchard pests, like codling moth and peach twig borer, are present in Utah, and researchers just launched a raspberry pest survey to better understand those pests.


Program and Services

The Utah IPM program provides a number of outreach services, including pest advisories sent to 8,000 vegetable and fruit growers who have subscribed to receive the alerts, a weather-based decision-support tool developed with the Utah Climate Center known as Utah TRAPS, a quarterly newsletter, a number of printed guides and handbooks and an active IPM website that features videos and fact sheets.

“We do a lot of school outreach and indoor IPM, and hold workshops and first-detector trainings,” Alston said.

Expanding the community IPM offerings and teaching IPM to home gardeners and urban agriculturalists is a priority for the program, Alston explained. One innovative example is an interpretive signs the team developed for public gardens to explain what IPM is and how it’s used in the garden to supress pests.

IPM signThe signs are being installed at the Wheeler Historic Farm in Salt Lake City, where USU Extension has educational, demonstration, and food bank production gardens, which include displays on attracting beneficial insects and pollinators; and at the Utah State University Botanical Center,  where a new raised-bed demonstration garden is being installed.  The IPM sign will be placed between the new raised-bed garden and a pedestrian orchard and vineyard, and all plantings will use IPM techniques for pest management.




Here is some of the IPM research going on in Utah:

Improved Western Cherry Fruit Fly Monitoring and Management

Submitted by: Dr. Diane Alston; diane.alston@usu.edu. Tel.:  435-797-2516

The cherry maggot in Utah, western cherry fruit fly (WCFF), is a key pest that can reduce yields and cause rejection of an entire orchard of tart cherry fruits if found floating in harvest tanks.  Tart cherries are an important fruit crop in Utah.  IPM research has focused on the testing of new, reduced-risk insecticide classes; demonstration of the efficacy of systemic insecticides in preventing infestation of cherries during early maturity stages (yellow to salmon-colored fruit); enhancing the consumption of insecticide-bait sprays by adult WCFF with the addition of 1-2% sugar; use of yellow killing stations to enhance the longevity and attractiveness of WCFF adults to insecticide-baits; and testing of translucent yellow sticky traps for more efficient monitoring of WCFF.


Mating Disruption:  An IPM Tool in Fruit Orchards

Submitted by:  Marion Murray, marion.murray@usu.edu.  Tel:  435-797-0776

Mating disruption is a low- or no-spray management option for many moth species, including the primary pests of apple and peach in Utah, codling moth and peach twig borer.  It works in orchards that are 10 acres or larger, saturating the air with the target moth’s female sex pheromone, thereby preventing or delaying male moths from finding the females for mating.  Several projects have been demonstrated in Utah, primarily to encourage growers to adopt use, and to show efficacy.  We have analyzed field-aged hand-applied dispensers for pheromone release rate and residual levels; evaluated efficacy and worth of aerosol emitters for both codling moth and peach twig borer; determined application timing of hand-applied dispensers for peach twig borer; and examined ways that mating disruption can improve control on sloped orchards. 


Invasive Pest Surveys

Submitted by: Dr. Lori Spears; lori.spears@usu.edu.  Tel.: 801-668-4056

The Utah Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) program is a joint effort between various state and federal agencies, including Utah State University, Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, and USDA-APHIS-PPQ.  This program focuses on the early detection and surveillance of exotic pests that have been identified as threats to U.S. agriculture and/or the environment.  Current surveys being conducted by Utah State University include field crop surveys (alfalfa, corn, and small grains), an orchard survey, and a survey specifically targeting emerald ash borer.  Other related projects involve conducting surveys of potential wild and feral hosts used by spotted wing drosophila and brown marmorated stink bug.  The Utah CAPS program also hosts workshops and produces extension publications on invasive pests.


Field Crops and Turf Entomology

Dr. Ricardo Ramirez; ricardo.ramirez@usu.edu.  Tel.:  435-797-8088

Alfalfa and corn are important field crops with persistent arthropod pest pressure in Utah.  Research in alfalfa examines the effects of alfalfa weevil management on aphid outbreaks and insect predator communities, and stresses the importance of utilizing economic thresholds in management.  Given the recent rise in soil pest issues in alfalfa, namely clover root curculio and stem nematode, an evaluation of soil pest management strategies are being investigated.  Drought is a persistent problem in the West that has allowed spider mites to thrive in corn and other crops.  Current research is evaluating the effects of drought and neonicotinoid seed treatments in corn on plant stress responses and spider mite outbreaks.  Issues of plant water stress have also affected pest management in urban landscapes, specifically turfgrass.  Here, the focus is on understanding the biology and improving the management of billbugs and other turf pests in the western environment. 


Vegetable and Fruit Disease Management

Submitted by:  Dr. Claudia Nischwitz; claudia.nischwitz@usu.edu. Tel.: 435-797-7569

The plant pathology lab focuses mainly on management of vegetable (onion, tomato, cucurbits, potatoes and pepper) diseases.  The emphasis is on cultural practices such as precision fertilization and border crops as well as seed treatment.  Smaller projects focus on tree fruit diseases, including control of fire blight on apples and pears, and brown rot on stone fruit.