2012 Highlights: UC IPM Annual Report

Surendra Dara, a UC Cooperative Extension entomology advisor, conducts a field study to improve pest management in strawberries.Surendra Dara, a UC Cooperative Extension entomology advisor, conducts a field study to improve pest management in strawberries. Photo by S. Dara.
SLygus bug infected with Beauveria bassiana.Lygus bug infected with Beauveria bassiana. Photo by S. Dara.

Friendly fungus could manage strawberry and vegetable pests

IN BRIEF

  • A fungus shows promise to control insect pests.
  • Researchers goal is to increase the use of alternative pesticides.

Surendra Dara wants to help growers with some major pest problems. Dara, an entomology advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties who is affiliated with UC IPM, is working to develop Beauveria bassiana into a microbial pesticide. This friendly fungus occurs naturally in the soil and infects insect pests that come in contact with it.

Following some positive results from his laboratory and greenhouse studies, Dara recently conducted field studies in strawberries and lettuce using a commercial formulation of this insect-destroying fungus. Results are very encouraging and show promise to become a part of current IPM programs. Since this fungus can attack several pest species on various crops, developing an appropriate treatment strategy could potentially reduce conventional pesticide use and provide a sustainable management option.

Dara has been evaluating the use of environmentally safe alternatives to conventional pesticides for the past few years. His research goals are to increase the use of alternatives, extend the use of currently available conventional pesticides, and improve overall pest management by providing more management options to growers.

> Next article: Kaolin clay doesn’t harm honey bees or natural enemies in watermelons


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