NCERA224: IPM Strategies for Arthropod Pests and Diseases in Nurseries and Landscapes

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Active

NCERA224: IPM Strategies for Arthropod Pests and Diseases in Nurseries and Landscapes

Duration: 10/01/2017 to 09/30/2022

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

Members of NCERA-224 focus on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies for insect and disease pests of ornamental plants in nurseries, landscapes, and urban forests. Key research and technology transfer goals of members include development, evaluation, and integration of the cultural, chemical, and biological control tactics that are the foundation of IPM programs. To address these goals, specific research objectives have focused on biology of key pests (e.g., Drees et al. 2007; Rigsby et al. 2015; Weston 2008; Weston et al. 2008), approaches to pest monitoring and prediction (Ranger et al. 2011), assessment of new pesticide chemistries and application technology (e.g., Herms et al. 2009, 2010; Rhainds and Sadof 2009) stress factors predisposing plants to pest attack (Ranger et al. 2010), evaluating plants for pest resistance (e.g., Nielsen et al. 2011; Rebek et al. 2008), elucidating mechanisms of host plant resistance (e.g., Rigsby et al. 2016; Sherwood and Bonello 2016; Villari et al. 2016), cultural practices to enhance plant health (Lloyd et al. 2006), implementation of biological control (Weston and Desurmont 2008) and decision making (Sadof et al. 2011). 

The value of landscape plants extends far beyond the substantial economic activity generated by their sale and maintenance. They are an integral part of, and provide critical services to, the human environment. Properly placed and maintained plants can reduce energy costs, absorb noise and air pollutants, purify water, reduce soil erosion and flooding, increase ecological stability, and provide wildlife habitat (McPherson 2006). Landscape plants are integral to the human outdoor experience, whether relaxing in the yard, playing a round of golf, or walking in a park. Ornamental plants increase property values, enhance physical and mental health, and foster community pride. The health, aesthetic quality, and utility of landscape plants are decreased by a wide diversity of arthropod pests and pathogens that cause disease, which stimulates widespread interest and activity in preventing and mitigating the negative effects of these problems. 

NCERA-224 is a continuation of NCR-193, which was formed in 1997 through the merger of NCR-98 and NCR-43. The directive provided a highly successful forum for plant pathologists and entomologists to discuss IPM programs for insects and diseases of ornamental plants, exchange research results and extension information, formulate complementary research objectives, establish interdisciplinary, multi-state collaborations, and avoid duplication of effort. This merger has fostered communication and facilitated interactions of entomologists and phytopathologists throughout the country, promoted awareness of regional and inter-regional arthropod pest and disease problems, fostered research collaborations to understand their potential impact and develop mitigation tactics and strategies, and resulted in workshops and other inter-state outreach programs for green industry professionals. These impacts are documented in the outcomes section of the proposal. 

A great benefit of NCERA-224 is that it provides a pre-positioned organizational framework necessary to generate a multi-state, collaborative research and outreach response to unforeseen and unpredictable emergence of key pests. For example, sudden oak death and emerald ash borer were unknown to science 15 years ago, but have come to dominate the research and outreach efforts of several members of NCERA-224 (including several collaborative multi-institutional research projects and a coordinated, multi-state, multi-agency outreach partnership between Michigan State University, Purdue University, The Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin, USDA-FS, USDA-ARS, and USDA-APHIS). 

The green industry consists of many sectors including wholesale nursery, greenhouse, turfgrass sod producers, landscape design, construction and maintenance firms, and wholesale and retail distribution firms (Hodges et al. 2015). The annual economic contributions of the green industry were estimated at $196 billion in output revenue in 2013. The largest sectors of the green industry with respect to output, employment, and gross domestic product (GDP), respectively, were landscaping and horticulture services ($84.2 B, 1,105,526 jobs, $54.7 B), greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture production ($31.3 B, 240,809 jobs, $20.4 B), and lawn and garden equipment and supply stores ($21.0 B, 217,798 jobs, $12.9 B).  Since 2007-08, contributions to revenue by the green industry increased by 4.4% for employment and 2.7% for GDP after adjusting for inflation (Hodges et al. 2015). These figures represent slow growth for an industry that is reaching maturity, yet the U.S. green industry remains a vital component of national, regional, and local economies. 

Nurseries, homeowners, landscapers, municipal governments, and tree care professionals strive to grow and maintain healthy and aesthetically pleasing plants, while reducing the use of conventional pesticides by embracing integrated pest management (IPM) programs. As the ornamentals industry has expanded, so has the complexity of managing disease and insect problems. Many of these problems are national rather than local in scope as widespread shipment and planting of ornamental plants has resulted in regional, national, and international distribution of key pests. Furthermore, the great diversity of ornamental plants produced in nurseries and planted in landscapes, each with their own complement of pest and disease problems, means that no individual researcher or state can hope to address them all. Interactions, collaborations, and complementary objectives resulting from NCERA-224 meetings have allowed entomologists and plant pathologists to address a much wider variety of key problems more efficiently and quickly, while avoiding duplication of efforts. 

The implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996 has resulted in cancellation of registrations of key broad-spectrum insecticides formerly used to manage pests on ornamental plants. A number of next-generation insecticides have emerged to replace these, but their range of activity tends to be much more specific and their residual activity much shorter. EPA has also increased emphasis on registration of biologically based insecticides. Increased emphasis on reduced-risk pesticides creates significant opportunities for incorporating these products into IPM programs. However, detailed information about pest biology and ecology, pest response to these products, and effective technology transfer to pest managers will be required in order to do so effectively. 

Exotic insects and pathogens continue to threaten North American forests and urban landscapes. Research efforts directed towards previously introduced invasive pests (e.g. emerald ash borer, Phytophthora ramorum) continue even as additional exotic pests such as viburnum leaf beetle, southern pine beetle, hemlock shoot blight, brown marmorated stink bug, Japanese apple rust, and crapemyrtle bark scale have been added to the pest complex. The spread of exotic invasive organisms has been facilitated at times by accidental shipment of infested nursery stock, resulting in quarantines that have negative economic impacts on nurseries. Furthermore, urban environments have been the site of major eradication and suppression efforts for exotic invasive pests such as emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, and Asian longhorned beetle. The rapid response to emerald ash borer and sudden oak death emphasizes the benefits of NCERA-224, as its members have played key roles in developing and implementing coordinated multi-state research and outreach programs. The projects of Smitley, Sadof, Williamson, and Herms have coordinated and integrated the emerald ash borer outreach programs for Michigan State University, Purdue, University of Wisconsin, and The Ohio State University. As the geographic scale and impact of insect and disease problems of ornamental plants continues to expand as the green industry continues to grow, so does the significance of outcomes and impacts provided by NCERA-224. The need to coordinate regional and national research and outreach programs to address these problems continues to be very high, and NCERA-224 plays a key role in facilitating these efforts. This interdisciplinary committee has proven to be an invaluable forum for developing coordinated, complementary programs needed to address a great diversity of pest problems, while avoiding duplication of efforts, in an era of increasingly limited resources, as well as facilitating interdisciplinary, multi-state collaborations necessary to address problems of regional and national significance. 

Our objectives focus more on the conceptual rather than specific in order to develop a generalized framework from which we can address the great diversity of pest management issues that emanate from hundreds of host species, several times as many pests (across multiple kingdoms), all interacting in vastly different management systems including nurseries, landscapes, and urban and natural forests across all regions of the country. By necessity, we focus on complementarity and avoidance of duplication of effort, which has dramatically improved our ability to address the great diversity of pest issues our stakeholders must confront.


  1. New and emerging pests (including invasive species and climate change-induced range expansion): Investigate detection methods, biology, and management of new and emerging pests.
  2. Pesticide technology development: Evaluate effectiveness of reduced-risk pesticides, biopesticides (i.e., bacterial, fungal, and viral), new and novel chemistries, and application technologies for control of key disease and arthropod pests of landscapes, nurseries, and Christmas trees while minimizing impacts on non-target organisms, including pollinators
  3. Pesticide alternatives: Develop management strategies for key pests based on biological control, host plant resistance, and cultural control.
  4. Technology transfer: Develop and deliver science-based educational materials focused on management of key pests through outlets such as mass media, peer-reviewed publications, extension fact sheets,, and social media.

Procedures and Activities

Our specific objectives will be addressed through the following research and outreach projects. 

Objective 1) New and emerging pests (including invasive species and climate change-induced range expansion): Investigate detection methods, biology, and management of new and emerging pests. Members of NCERA-224 will: 

Conduct multi-state investigations of the distribution, spread, and biology of Phytophthora ramorum. Use visual and detection surveys and remote-sensing approaches to investigate distribution of emerald ash borer populations and impact, and quantify rate of spread. Investigate distribution, biology, and management of native and exotic bark beetles. Investigate other native and exotic invasive insects and pathogens such as white pine blister rust, thousand cankers disease of walnut, citrus greening, Dothistroma needle blight, emerald ash borer, and viburnum leaf beetle. Coordinate inter-state interactions within the National Plant Diagnostic Network to facilitate rapid response to detections of emerging pests. Investigate incidence and distribution of pests in relation to climate change. 

Objective 2) Pesticide technology development: Evaluate effectiveness of reduced-risk pesticides, biopesticides (i.e., bacterial, fungal, and viral), new and novel chemistries, and application technologies for control of key disease and arthropod pests of landscapes, nurseries, and Christmas trees while minimizing impacts on non-target organisms, including pollinators. Members of NCERA-224 will: 

Assess new and novel products and application methods for control of woodborers, bark beetles, scales, soil-infesting insects, and mites. Develop insecticide-based strategies for protecting ash trees from emerald ash borer. Evaluate treatments for diseases such as bacterial leaf scorch, thousand canker disease, Phytophthora ramorum, Stigmina needlecast, Diplodia shoot blight and stem canker, and other key pathogens.  Evaluate the impact of neonicotinoid insecticides and other chemistries on pollinators and other beneficial arthropods. 

Objective 3) Pesticide alternatives: Develop management strategies for key pests based on biological control, host plant resistance, and cultural control. Members of NCERA-224 members will: 

Develop biological control programs for key exotic pests such as Japanese beetle and other scarab beetles, viburnum leaf beetle, and scales. Coordinate the National Elm Trial to evaluate resistance to key insect and disease pests. Evaluate host resistance to key arthropods and pathogens such as Phytophthora spp., emerald ash borer, X-disease, and Diplodia. Evaluate effects of cultural practices and environmental stressors on key pests including drought, fertilization, mulching, composting, and pruning. 

Objective 4) Technology transfer: Develop and deliver science-based educational materials focused on management of key pests through outlets such as mass media, peer-reviewed publications, extension fact sheets,, and social media. Members of NCERA-224 will: 

Develop and deliver coordinated multi-state outreach programs and action plans for key native and alien pests. Develop multi-state eXtension resources, fact sheets, and bulletins on key pests. Develop and maintain internet-based list-servers (such as Ornaent) and websites to disseminate information on key pests. Ensure regular contact with county agents (e.g., Horticulture/Forestry Conference Calls) to provide the most information. Liaison with federal and state regulatory and management agencies to help develop, deliver, implement, and assess action plans for key insects and diseases such as Asian longhorned beetle, citrus root weevil, red imported fire ants, emerald ash borer, Sirex wood wasp, bacterial leaf scorch, and sudden oak death. Organize symposia and outreach programs of interest to entomologists, plant pathologists, and stakeholders. 

The roles covered by different states in relation to the objectives are summarized below: 

State - Objectives - Key Pests/Diseases: 

CO -       1, 2, 3, 4- Thousand canker disease of walnut, white pine blister rust, emerald ash borer, Dutch elm diseases

DE -       1, 2, 3, 4 - Redheaded flea beetle, brown marmorated stink bug

IN -        1, 2, 3, 4 - Emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, leafhoppers, scales, spider mites

IA -        1, 3, 4 - Japanese beetle, emerald ash borer, brown marmorated stink bug, pine wilt, Diplodia tip blight

KS -       1, 3, 4 - Thousand cankers disease of walnut, pine wilt

MI -       1, 2, 3, 4 - emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, hemlock wooly adelgid, Japanese beetle, viburnum leaf beetle, spider mites, pollinators, Diplodia tip blight

MN -      1, 2, 3, 4 - emerald ash borer, Japanese beetle, gypsy moth, Cooley spruce gall adelgid, scales, spider mites, pollinators, biocontrol agents

NE -       1, 2, 3, 4 - emerald ash borer, brown marmorated stink bug, sudden oak death, pine wilt, Diplodia tip blight

OH -       1, 2, 3, 4 - Asian longhorned beetle, viburnum leaf beetle, hemlock woolly adelgid, emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, ambrosia beetles, Japanese beetle, sudden oak death, Diplodia tip blight

OK -       1, 2, 3, 4 - Japanese beetle, emerald ash borer, aphids, leafhoppers, scales, spider mites, pine wilt, bacterial leaf scorch, rose rosette disease

SC -       1, 2, 3, 4 - Bark and ambrosia beetles, Japanese beetle, scale insects, flea beetles

WA -      1, 2, 3, 4 - Sudden oak death, Phytophthora root rot, diseases of conifer nursery stock, Christmas trees, ornamental bulb crops, and Pacific madrone.

WI -       1, 2, 3, 4 - Brown marmorated stink bug, emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, Japanese beetle, sudden oak death, Diplodia tip blight 

Different research and extension networks will help execute the objectives. Research and technology transfer is facilitated by the coordinated structure of the group. For example, entomologists in NCERA-224 from the states with active emerald ash borer infestations used the NCERA-224 structure to coordinate research objectives and protocols in various states to evaluate insecticides for control of emerald ash borer. They were then well positioned to develop consensus recommendations for managing emerald ash borer, which were subsequently published in the highly cited multi-state NCR-IPM bulletin, Insecticide Options for Protecting Ash Trees from Emerald Ash Borer. More generally, members of NCERA-224 provide information, as appropriate, to clientele and stakeholders through face-to-face meetings, newsletters, CEU trainings, and professional society meetings such as annual meetings of the Entomological Society of America and American Phytopathological Society. Many of the same pests occur in several of our states, so avoiding duplication of effort is critical. Members take NCERA-224 information back to their states where they deliver extension programming through various networks - state tree organizations, Departments of Agriculture of Forestry, horticulture "focus teams" of county agents, and their own personal extension programming. Involvement with NCERA-224 will allow our members to coordinate delivery of consistent and coherent information to stakeholders across the United States. Additionally, we aim to recruit more scientists from the southeastern U.S. (e.g., members of the Southern Nursery IPM Working Group) to join NCERA-224 and therefore, broaden the impact of our efforts in research and outreach. Specific and measurable outputs include peer-reviewed manuscripts, regional and national symposia at professional meetings, extension publications and workshops, and internet-based outreach materials and communications. Expected impacts over the next 5 years include improved detection, identification, and management of invasive arthropods and plant pathogens; greater awareness of pollinators and improvements in pollinator health in ornamental and production landscapes; and wider adoption of biologically based pest management strategies.

Here are examples of how individual members use different research and extension networks to execute these objectives: 

  1. In Indiana, our members conduct webinar series to update individuals on emerging forest pests, such as the Asian longhorned beetle, thousand cankers disease of walnut, and emerald ash borer (e.g., the EAB University).
  2. In Wisconsin, members conduct webinars on the brown marmorated stink bug and the spotted wing drosophila, viburnum leaf beetle, lily leaf beetle, and other invasive species as part of the Wisconsin First Detector’s Network. Information about landscape insect IPM is also shared with the Wisconsin Arborist Association, the Wisconsin Turfgrass Association, the Wisconsin Green Industry Federation, and other groups via field days, workshops, and newsletters.
  3. The Colorado representatives are active in master gardener training, local and regional ISA training, pesticide training updates, firewood and emerging pest task forces, and in hosting regional research and outreach forums such as the Central Rockies White Pine Health Working Group each year and Great Plains Tree Pest Council.
  4. In the state of Washington, members are active in organizing/hosting and participating in regional workshops, conferences, webinars, and field days for stakeholders relating to sudden oak death, ornamental bulb crops, Christmas trees, and Pacific madrone. Members also hosts web sites ( that update individuals on emerging pests, research, and outreach activities. These sites also provide information on opportunities for community members, high school and undergraduate students to be involved in research and community-based programs, such as the WSU Puyallup sudden oak death community-stream monitoring program for invasive plant pathogens.
  5. The member from South Carolina works with state, federal and university colleagues from other southeastern states as well as Virginia and Ohio, with networking and promotional support from American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) and state nursery growers and landscape professional associations, to offer multiple sessions of ambrosia beetle and/or scale insect detection and management workshops for nursery growers and landscape professionals. New information and technology is also transferred to stakeholders through the monthly Southern Ornamental IPM Webinar series currently hosted through North Carolina State University.
  6. The Oklahoma member relies on information generated from other research and extension outlets such as list-serves and newsletters to keep the green industry of the state current on effective pest management strategies. These outlets are associated with professional societies (e.g., Entomological Society of America) and collegial networks established from research and extension collaborations spanning several scientific disciplines and geographic boundaries. He also conducts research on alternative pest management methods for a wide variety of crops, emphasizing IPM principles and tactics.  These emphasis areas include biological control, microbial control, cultural control, and host plant resistance.
  7. In Iowa, the representative actively participates in extension and outreach programs for the greenhouse and nursery industry, and consumer horticulture including master gardener and master woodland manager, as well as other workshops, webinars, and video recordings. Her role in the local diagnostic clinic includes implementing detection methods for plant pathogens, extending management recommendations in every report for every sample submitted for diagnosis, and emphasizing the use and implementation of IPM.
  8. The Minnesota representative regularly delivers workshops that discuss reduced risk pesticides to preserve pollinators and biocontrol agents in plant production, landscapes, and home gardens. She also evaluates effectiveness of reduced risk insecticides on Japanese beetle grubs and adults, mites, Cooley spruce gall adelgid, and impacts of these insecticides on pollinators and biological control agents.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • Knowledge of new detection methods, biology, climate change effects, and management of new and emerging pests, including exotic invasive species
  • Replacement of broad-spectrum pesticides with reduced-risk pesticides, biopesticides, new chemistries, and application technologies for control of key arthropod pests and diseases of landscapes, nurseries, urban forests, and Christmas trees
  • Adoption of management strategies for key pests based on biological control, host plant resistance, and cultural control
  • Delivery of science-based educational materials focused on recognition and management of key pests Comments: These outcomes will lead to decreased pesticide use; enhanced environmental, public, and worker protection; more cost-effective pest management for the green industry to increase profitability; urban reforestation with pest-resistant trees, thereby maintaining environmental services provided by the urban canopy; and decreased risk of spread of exotic invasive pests.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

Where appropriate, we will work with stakeholders through their professional societies (e.g. International Society of Arboriculture, Entomological Society of America, American Phytopathological Society) to produce relevant manuals and conduct educational meetings. Regional recommendations will be posted on the web and advertised in trade shows as appropriate. Further details regarding the Educational Plan are detailed in the Procedures and Activities section under Objective Four.


The recommended Standard Governance for multistate research activities include the election of a new Secretary each year. Leadership succession is by transition from Secretary, Chair to Past-Chair. Administrative guidance will be provided by an assigned Administrative Advisor and a CSREES Representative.

Literature Cited

Drees, B. M., B. Summerlin, and S. B. Vinson. 2007. Foraging activity and temperature relationship for the red imported fire ant. Southwestern Entomologist 32(3):149-156.

Herms, D.A., D.G. McCullough, D.R. Smitley, C.S. Sadof, R.C. Williamson, and P.L. Nixon. 2009. Insecticide options for protecting ash trees from emerald ash borer. North Central IPM Center Bulletin. 12 pp.

Herms, D.A., D.G. McCullough, D.R. Smitley, C.S. Sadof, R.C. Williamson, and P.L. Nixon. 2010. Professional options for treating EAB. Lawn and Landscape 31(5):88-92.

Hodges, A.W., Hall, C.R., Palma, M.A, and Khachatryan, H. 2015. Economic contributions of the green industry in the United States in 2013. Hort Technology 25: 805-814.

Lloyd, J.E., D.A. Herms, J.V. Wagoner, and M.A. Rose. 2006. Fertilization rate and irrigation scheduling in the nursery influence growth, insect performance, and stress tolerance of Sutyzam crabapple in the landscape. HortScience 41 (2):442-445.

McPherson, E. G., J. R. Simpson, P. J. Peper, S. E. Maco, S.L. Gardner, S. K. Cozad, and Q. Xiao 2006. Midwest Community Tree Guide.: Benefits, Costs and Strategic Planting. USDA FS Pacific Southwest Research Station General Technical Report PSW-GTR-199. 100 pp.

Nielsen, D.G., V.L. Muilenburg, and D.A. Herms. 2011. Interspecific variation in resistance of Asian, European, and North American birches (Betula spp.) to bronze birch borer (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). Environmental Entomology 40:648-653.

Ranger, C.M., M.E. Reding, A.B. Persad, and D.A. Herms. 2010. Ability of stress-related volatiles to attract and induce attacks by Xylosandrus germanus and other ambrosia beetles. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 12:177-185.

Ranger, C.M., M.E. Reding, K..J.K. Gandhi, J.B. Oliver, P.B. Schultz, and D.A. Herms. 2011. Species dependent influence of (-)-±-pinene on attraction of ambrosia beetles to ethanol-baited traps in nursery agroecosystems. J. Econ. Entomol. 104:574-579.

Rebek, E.J., D.A. Herms, and D.R. Smitley. 2008. Interspecific variation in resistance to emerald ash borer (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) among North American and Asian ash (Fraxinus spp.). Environmental Entomology 37:242-246.

Rhainds, M. and C. S. Sadof. 2009. Control of bagworms (Lepidoptera: Psychidae) using contact and soil applied systemic insecticides. J. Econ. Entomol. 102:1164-1169.

Rigsby, C.M., D.N. Showalter, D.A. Herms, J.L., Koch, P. Bonello, and D.F. Cipollini. 2015. Physiological responses of emerald ash borer larvae to feeding on different ash species reveals putative resistance mechanisms and insect counter-adaptations. J. Insect Phys. 78: 47-54.

Rigsby, C.M., D.A. Herms, P. Bonello, and D. Cipollini. 2016. Higher activities of defense-associated enzymes may contribute to greater resistance of Manchurian ash to emerald ash borer than a closely related and susceptible congener. Journal of Chemical Ecology -

Sadof, C. S., L. Purcell, F J. Bishop, C. Quesada, and, Zhang, Z. W. 2011. Evaluating restoration capacity and costs of managing the emerald ash borer with a web-based cost calculator in urban forests. Arboriculture and Urban Forestry 37:74-83.

Sherwood, P. and P. Bonello. 2016. Testing the systemic induced resistance hypothesis with Austrian pine and Diplodia sapinea. Physiological and Molecular Plant Pathology -

Villari C., D.A. Herms, J.G.A. Whitehill, D.F. Cipollini, and P. Bonello. 2016. Invited Tansley Review: Progress and gaps in understanding mechanisms of ash resistance to emerald ash borer, a model for wood boring insects that kill angiosperm trees. New Phytologist 209: 63-79.

Weston, P.A. 2008. Plant Defense Elicitors Fail to Protect Viburnum dentatum from Herbivory by Viburnum Leaf Beetle (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 101(4): 1466-1470.

Weston, P.A. and G.A. Desurmont. 2008. Pupation by Viburnum Leaf Beetle (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae): Behavioral Description and Impact of Environmental Variables and Entomopathogenic Nematodes. Environ. Entomol. 37(4): 845-849.

Weston, P.A., G.A Desurmont, and M.D. Diaz. 2008. Ovipositional Biology of Viburnum Leaf Beetle, Pyrrhalta viburni (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Environ. Entomol. 37(2): 520-524.


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

Tennessee State University, The Davey Tree Expert Company
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