State Receives Funds to Study Biological Control of Bagrada Bug

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A California Deptartment of Food and Agriculture grant proposal, Biological Control of Bagrada Bug, Bagrada Hilaris (Pentatomidae), was selected for funding by the 2016 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

This project will provide a sustainable pest management strategy for suppressing this pest in California. First reported in the United States in 2008, the bagrada bug has spread throughout agricultural areas of Imperial and Riverside counties, up through the Central Valley, and along the coast from San Diego to Monterey Bay. Currently, the only means for controlling this pest is the use of conventional pesticides. This leaves organic producers of cole crops at risk since there are no effective organically-registered control measures.

A long-term, self-sustaining solution is the introduction of parasitoids specialized in feeding on this pest. This project will search for and evaluate novel parasitoids associated with bagrada bug in its native home (parts of Africa, Pakistan, and India). Biologies of parasitoids collected abroad will be studied under laboratory conditions. Candidate parasitoids that show a strong preference for attacking and developing on bagrada bug will be identified.

Researchers will request permission to release the natural enemies from the United States Department of Agriculture Agency that regulates such releases, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Resident natural enemies found attacking bagrada bug eggs in California will be documented. Life history events for bagrada bug will be studied under field conditions.

The ultimate goal is to release the parasitoids into the environment so that bagrada bug populations are controlled naturally by the action of these insects.



This article was submitted by Charlie Pickett, entomologist, California Dept. of Food and Agriculture