NCERA224: IPM Strategies for Arthropod Pests and Diseases in Nurseries and Landscapes
(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)
NCERA224: IPM Strategies for Arthropod Pests and Diseases in Nurseries and Landscapes
Duration: 10/01/2022 to 09/30/2027
Statement of Issues and Justification
The green industry includes important economic sectors of wholesale nurseries, greenhouses, turfgrass sod producers, landscape design, construction and maintenance firms, and wholesale and retail firms that distribute related products (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 annually 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.
The value of ornamental plants and shade trees 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). Shade trees and ornamental 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 and urban forests increase property values and foster community pride.
The health, aesthetic quality, and utility of plants in urban landscapes are decreased by a wide diversity of arthropod pests and pathogenic disease organisms, which stimulates widespread interest and activity in mitigating the negative influences of these problems. The development of effective and sustainable pest management programs for the green industry is complicated by three factors:
First, the scope of pest management in the green industry is national. Nurseries, homeowners, landscapers, municipal governments, and tree care professionals strive to grow and maintain healthy and aesthetically pleasing plants, while reducing the impacts of 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 problems, means that no individual researcher or state can hope to address them all.
Secondly, associated with the increased shipment of horticultural products are the expanded distribution of invasive pests. 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 in Ohio, hemlock shoot blight, crape myrtle bark scale, brown marmorated stink bugs and Japanese apple rust have been added to the pest complex. Other invasive pest issues, such as ash dieback in Europe, are on the horizon. The spread of alien invasive organisms has been facilitated at times by accidental shipment of infested nursery stock, resulting in quarantines that have negative economic impacts on nurseries. The boxtree moth was accidently shipped from Ontario to multiple locations in the United States in 2021. Furthermore, urban environments have been the site of major eradication and suppression efforts for alien invasive pests such as emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, and Asian longhorned beetle.
Lastly, critical information is still needed to optimize the use of novel pest management tools. 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. Additionally, increased public scrutiny of neonicotinoid insecticides have led to the development of new insecticides. These insecticides need to be investigated to better understand the best way to incorporate them into urban, nursery or greenhouse pest management strategies. 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.
Members of NCERA-224 focus on IPM strategies for arthropod and disease pests of plants in nurseries, landscapes, and urban forests. This working group has been in existence for 24 years and has expanded its membership to include researchers and extension specialists outside of its original hosting region in north-central United States. The continuous expansion of its membership in the current and the proposed project periods allows members of the working group to establish a network of information exchange and collaborative projects that focus on endemic and invasive arthropod pests and diseases that may be spreading in all directions due to climate change and trade of horticultural products. Discussions focused on these issues frequently include nonmember colleagues working in the USDA-ARS, USDA-APHIS, or state departments of agriculture that often leads to productive collaborations.
Economically important pests with expanding distribution include the emerald ash borer, redheaded flea beetle, banded elm bark beetle, crape myrtle bark scale, Phytophthora, Phomopsis and Botryosphaeria species. For example, insecticides used for managing redheaded flea beetle, which frequently include broad spectrum insecticides, cost the growers an average of $1637/ha/yr (Joseph et al. 2021). The impacts that the use of these insecticides have on IPM programs in nurseries or landscapes warrant further investigation.
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., Klingeman et al. 2015, Weston et al. 2008; Weston 2008; Drees et al. 2007), approaches to pest and plant disease monitoring and prediction (Chahal et al. 2019, Hansen et al. 2015, Klingeman et al. 2017, Oren et al. 2018, Ranger et al. 2011, Seybold et al. 2019, Stackhouse et al. 2021), assessment of new pesticide chemistries and application technology (e.g. Herms et al. 2010, 2019, Rhainds and Sadof 2009), assessments of field-based steaming as a mitigation tool to limit the spread of invasive pests and pathogens (Elliott et al. 2021), identification of stress factors predisposing plants to pest attack (Ranger et al. 2010), evaluation of plants for pest resistance (e.g., Nielsen et al. 2011; Rebek et al. 2008), identification of host plant resistance mechanisms, cultural practices to enhance plant health (Lloyd et al. 2006), implementation of biological control (Weston and Desurmont 2008), and development of decision making tools and processes (Sadof et al. 2017, Klingeman et al. 2020).
NCERA-224 is a continuation of NCERA-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 nurseries, landscapes and urban forests, exchange research results and pest management recommendations, 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. As a group, our objective focus more on the conceptual rather than specific in order to develop generalized frameworks 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, urban and natural forests across all regions of the country. By necessity, we focus on complementation and avoid duplication of effort, which has dramatically improved our ability to address the great diversity of pest issues our stakeholders must confront.
Members of NCERA-224 are and will continue to develop collaborative research and Extension programs that will address the challenges in the green industry:
- Interactions, collaborations, and complementary objectives resulting from NCERA-224 meetings and information exchanges have allowed entomologists and plant pathologists to address a much wider variety of key pests or unpredictable emergence of key pest problems more efficiently and quickly, while avoiding duplication of efforts. NCERA-224 form the foundation to develop national collaborative programs to develop management strategies against native pest species that have increased their pest status in recent years. For example, redheaded flea beetle has emerged as a major pest of the nursery industry in the past 5 years (Joseph et al. 2021). Members of NCERA-224 from University of Delaware and Clemson University have led the effort in developing a national working group to develop management of redheaded flea beetle. Members of the working group include researchers and Extension specialists from 10 other states.
- NCERA-224 continues to provide a platform to develop collaborations on tackling invasive pests on a regional and national scale. Woodland and forest patches within urban landscapes are frequent reservoirs of various insect and disease pests that can become problematic in urbanized landscapes, such as sudden oak death, emerald ash borer, and beech leaf disease. Beech leaf disease was unknown to science just 10 years ago (Ewing et al. 2019), but in this short time frame it has become a major concern in the Eastern USA and Canada, as well as Europe. Members of NCERA-224 look forward to solving this issue as well as others associated with crape myrtle bark scale, boxtree moth, spotted lanternfly, ambrosia beetles, etc.
- Members of NCERA-224 continue to evaluate the efficacy of novel pest management tools and their integration in IPM programs against native and invasive pests. For example, the evaluation of novel systemic and translaminar insecticides against sweetpotato whitefly in poinsettia crops allows growers to select the most effective non-neonicotinoid insecticides that also have the least impact on the pollinators and other beneficial organisms (Gill and Chong 2021). Demonstration of the efficacy of cutting dip with reduced risk insecticides (such as horticultural oil, insecticidal soap and entomopathogenic fungi) also allow growers to manage pests successfully and sustainably (Chong and Gill 2021).
Monitor and characterize new and emerging arthropod pests and host plant pathogens (including invasive species and climate change induced range expansion). Investigate and develop detection methods, biology, and management.
Pesticide technology development: Evaluate effectiveness of reduced-risk pesticides, biopesticides (i.e., bacterial, fungal, and viral), new and novel chemistries, diagnostic detection and monitoring methods, and application technologies for control of key plant disease and arthropod pests of landscapes, nurseries, and Christmas trees.
Pesticide alternatives: Develop management strategies for key pests based on classical biological control (i.e., predators and parasitoids), host plant resistance, and cultural control.
Technology transfer: Develop and deliver science-based educational materials focused on management of key pests through outlets such as mass media, publications and fact sheets, eXtension.org, ask2.extension.org, and social media.
Procedures and Activities
Our specific objectives will be addressed through the following research and outreach projects.
Objective 1, New and emerging arthropod pests and plant pathogens and associated diseases (including invasive species and climate change-induced range expansion): Investigate detection methods, biology, epidemiology, and management of new and emerging pests and diseases. Members of NCERA-224 will:
Conduct risk assessment for potential future alien invasive pathogens and insect pests of important North American tree species by way of reciprocal sentinel plantings in the Northeastern USA, Europe and China involving important European and Asian tree species. Such plantings were established in 2020 in Columbus, Ohio, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire for European and Asian tree species; in Alnarp, Sweden and Florence, Italy for North American and Asian tree species; and in Nanjing, China for North American and European tree species. Trees in these settings are scouted regularly during the growing season, sample collected, fungal pathogens and insects identified and reported.
Conduct multi-state investigations of the distribution, spread, and biology of plant diseases of emerging concern in the USA (e.g., beech leaf disease, laurel wilt, and sooty bark disease). Use visual and detection surveys, molecular detection techniques, and remote-sensing approaches to investigate distribution and impact of these and other diseases and insect pests, as well as quantify rate of spread. Investigate distribution, biology and management of native and exotic bark and flatheaded borer beetle species. Investigate other native and exotic invasive insects and diseases such as white pine blister rust, laurel wilt, oak wilt, thousand cankers disease of walnut, citrus greening, Dothistroma needle blight, crape myrtle bark scale, emerald ash borer and redheaded flea beetle. Coordinate inter-state interactions within National Plant Diagnostic Network to facilitate rapid response to detections of emerging pests, including bark and ambrosia beetle species, boxtree moth, spotted lanternfly, crape myrtle bark scale. 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, diagnostic detection and monitoring methods, and application technologies for control of key plant disease and arthropod pests of landscapes, nurseries, and Christmas trees. Members of NCERA-224 will:
Assess new and novel products and application methods for control of flatheaded borers, bark and ambrosia beetles, scale insects, soil infesting insects, exotic invasive insects, and mites. Develop insecticide-based strategies for protecting ash from emerald ash borer. Evaluate treatments for diseases such as bacterial leaf scorch, thousand cankers disease, Phytophthora ramorum, Stigmina needlecast, Diplodia shoot blight and stem canker, and other key pathogens.
Objective 3, Pesticide alternatives: Develop management strategies for key pests based on classical biological control (i.e., predators and parasitoids), host plant resistance, and cultural control. Members of NCERA-224 members will:
Develop biological control programs for key exotic pests such as Japanese 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. Efforts will also be made in developing integrated management programs by evaluating the compatibility between insecticides and selected biological control agents.
Objective 4, Technology transfer: Develop and deliver science-based educational materials focused on management of key pests through outlets such as mass media, publications and fact sheets, eXtension.org 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 and diseases. Ensure regular contact with county agents (e.g. Horticulture/Forestry Conference Calls) to provide the most current and up to date 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 beech leaf disease, and coordination of efforts between national beach leaf disease interest group. 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, root-infesting insects, scale insects, spotted lanternfly, needlecast diseases of Christmas trees
FL - 1, 3, 4 - Armored scale, biological control, urban landscapes
GA - 1, 2, 3, 4 - Redheaded flea beetles, applied ecology, biological control
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
KS - 1, 3, 4 - Thousand cankers disease of walnut, pine wilt
MN - 1, 2, 3, 4 - Emerald ash borer, Japanese beetle, gypsy moth, Cooley spruce gall adelgid, scales, spider mites, pollinators, biocontrol agents
NC - 1, 2, 3, 4 - Climate change, urban landscape ecology, invasive species
ND - 1, 3, 4 - Dutch elm disease, Stigmina needlecast of spruce, Dothistroma needle blight of pine, X-disease phytoplasma OH - 1, 4 - Beech leaf disease, Diplodia tip blight, resistance screening
OK - 1, 2, 3, 4 - Japanese beetle, aphids, leafhoppers, scale insects, spider mites
PA - 1, 2, 3, 4 - Viburnum leaf beetle, emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgid, gypsy moth, armored and soft scales, Sirex wood wasp, thousand cankers disease, Dutch elm disease, elm yellows
SC - 1, 2, 3, 4 - Bark and ambrosia beetles, flatheaded borers, Japanese beetle, scale insects, flea beetles
TN - 1, 2, 3, 4 - Bark and ambrosia beetles, flatheaded borers, oak wilt, laurel wilt, scale insects, thousand cankers disease
TX - 1, 2, 3, 4 - Oak wilt, sudden oak death, citrus greening, bacterial leaf scorch, Pierce’s disease, red imported fire ants, raspberry crazy ants
WA - 1, 2, 3, 4 - Sudden oak death, Phytophthora root rot, diseases of conifer nursery stock, Christmas trees, ornamental bulb crops, Pacific madrone, and urban forests
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-193 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 highly-cited multistate 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 Branch and National Entomological Society of America meetings. 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.
Here are examples of how the NCERA 224 group has come together for collaborative sharing of information that is then distributed throughout the regions and states extension programs:
- Webinars or other forms of distance training or meetings facilitated contact with key researchers investigating prominent invasive pathogens and insect pests. This became even more important during Covid shutdowns in 2020 and 2021, facilitated meetings and collaborations between different states and cooperators, when we couldn’t meet in person. Examples include webinars discussing emerging landscape pests, discussions revolving around emerging difficult pests in nursery situations, and discussions about new pathogen discoveries and distributions. Specific pests and pathogens discussed include spotted lanternfly, redheaded flea beetle, and beech leaf disease.
- We initiated self-organized task forces, interest groups, and committees that discussed relevant insects and pathogens of concern. Additionally, regionally organized task forces frequently included members of NCERA-224, to provide information for decision making processes. Specific examples include the national beech leaf disease interest group, spotted lanternfly task forces, and the Forest Health Watch program (https://foresthealth.org).
- Collaborative variety trials were maintained and evaluated for Dutch elm disease in the National Elm Trial. Trials evaluating impacts on pollinator populations have been shared within the group and efforts to collaborate with other large interest groups have continued. Members in the same regions have collaborated on pesticide efficacy trials targeting invasive pests and new diseases and were discussed at annual meetings. Members of the group have coordinated efforts on host plant resistance trials. Results from these trials have repeatedly been shared at NCERA-224 meetings so this information can be disseminated to stakeholders across the country.
- Master gardener training has continued throughout the existence of NCERA-224. The information that is provided to these interested citizens is updated yearly and shared by NCERA-224 members that attend the annual meeting. First Detector disease and insect training information is also updated and shared with detectors.
- Research project results are disseminated to stakeholders and professional colleagues attending field days, in-person workshops, hands-on trainings, newsletters, fact sheets, outreach forums, social media, websites, local radio, or TV spots. A number of these efforts are collaborative endeavors between institutions near each other, or similar research focuses. As an example, there is a bi-annual ornamental workshop organized by NC State for participation of colleagues across the country.
Expected Outcomes and Impacts
- New and emerging pests: Knowledge of new detection methods, biology, epidemiology, climate change effects and management of new and emerging pests, including invasive insect and fungal species.
- Pesticide technology development: Replace broad spectrum pesticides with reduced-risk pesticides, biopesticides, new chemistries, and application technologies for control of key disease and arthropod pests of landscapes, nurseries, urban forests and Christmas trees.
- Pesticide alternatives: Adoption of novel and integrated management strategies for key pests based on classical biological control, host plant resistance, and cultural control.
- Technology transfer: Deliver science-based educational materials focused on recognition and management of key pests and plant pathogens.
- 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 invasive alien pests and plant pathogens.
Projected ParticipationView Appendix E: Participation
Where appropriate, we will work with stakeholders through their professional societies (e.g. International Society of Arboriculture, Entomological Society of America, American Phytopathological Society) and trade organizations (e.g., AmericanHort) 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 Chair, a Chair-elect, and a Secretary. All officers are to be elected for at least two-year terms to provide continuity. Administrative guidance will be provided by an assigned Administrative Advisor and a NIFA Representative.
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