Stored products includes durable or processed commodities. Together, these play a significant role in both the economy and global food security. However, as these commodities proceed through the post-harvest supply chain, which includes storage, transportation, processing, and marketing, stored product pests readily attack them, resulting in reduced quality and quantity for end consumers, including food facilities. Pest management after harvest has relied heavily on fumigation to combat infestations. Methyl bromide and phosphine have been the primary fumigants used historically, but methyl bromide has been banned in most settings due to its harmful impact on the ozone layer, while phosphine is still the most commonly used fumigant. However, multiple stored product insects around the world have developed resistance to it. Additionally, consumer demand for products with minimal or no insecticide usage throughout the supply chain after harvest has increased. Thus, there has been a push to diversify integrated pest management programs after harvest. A key challenge in IPM programs is insect movement from the landscape. One way to intercept immigrating insects from the landscape is by using long-lasting insecticide netting (LLIN). Prior work by my lab has found that LLIN causes 73–98% mortality in five out of eight stored product insect species, and results in a 2–3-fold reduction in movement, and 95–99% reduction in progeny production in pilot-scale warehouses after brief exposure times. In addition, LLIN is effective against phosphine-resistant insects as well. However, there is a need to understand how to integrate LLIN into comprehensive pest management programs with other existing tactics that are already being used, such as fumigation and residual insecticides. Finally, it would be helpful to know how LLIN deployment can affect the long-term dynamics of stored product insects at food facilities. My project aims to expand the use of LLIN in the post-harvest supply chain by addressing these concerns directly. As a result, my research has three primary objectives, including Obj. 1) evaluating the use of LLIN in bulk storage to decrease phosphine fumigation, Obj. 2) leveraging ongoing residual contact insecticide by pairing with LLIN to reduce overall inputs at food facilities, and Obj. 3) modeling stored product insect population-level response to LLIN to determine long-term effects of usage for phosphine-susceptible and -resistant strains. My research will help to speed adoption of LLIN by stakeholders at food facilities, while helping to increase the sustainability of IPM after harvest.
Project objectives from proposal:
The immediate goal of this project is to understand how to integrate LLIN with existing pest management programs at food facilities in order to speed up adoption. Our data will provide a convincing case for stakeholder adoption. The learning outcome is that stakeholders will understand the use of LLIN decreases their reliance on phosphine fumigation in bulk storage and residual insecticides in other contexts, while providing superior protection of commodities. Our action outcome is to increase stakeholder acceptance and adoption of LLIN at food facilities so that the North-Central region can continue to be the world’s breadbasket.