Leveraging Pest Behavior for Implementation of Sustainable Management Tactics for Plum Curculio in Southeastern Peach Production

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2018: $16,464.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2020
Grant Recipient: University of Georgia
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Brett Blaauw
University of Georgia


  • Fruits: peaches


  • Pest Management: integrated pest management


    Plum curculio (PC), Conotrachelus nenuphar (Herbst), is a key pest in Southeastern peach production that infests fruit and decreases yield. Currently, peach growers mainly follow the calendar-based spray programs and heavily rely on repeated applications of conventional broad-spectrum insecticides for PC management. However, frequent insecticide applications can cause non-target effects (e.g. eliminating beneficial insects), insecticide resistance and adverse effects on the environments (e.g. insecticide runoff and drift). Thus, there is a need for the development of more sustainable approaches for PC management.

    To establish a sustainable PC management program, understanding the pest’s behavior is important. A better understanding of PC behavior will facilitate the development of sustainable PC management programs that spatio-temporally target PC infestation hotspots within a peach orchard. By precisely targeting PC infestation hotspots, the sustainable PC management programs can not only reduce insecticide input, but also mitigate the adverse effects caused by repeated insecticide applications. The goal of this project was to facilitate the development of sustainable PC management programs for Southeastern peaches by deciphering PC behavior in peach orchards over time. We intensively monitored the distribution and movement of PC in peach orchards in Georgia throughout the season. We found that PC in Southeastern peaches did not exhibit the “edge effect”, where more PC are present next to a forested border than in the center of the orchard. In addition, we discovered that PC tended to fly instead of walking within the orchard during midseason.

    Our results suggest that PC in Southeastern peaches do not exhibit the edge effect and PC can potentially overwinter within the orchard instead of in the adjacent forest. These findings will lead to future research further looking into where in an orchard PC overwinter for new potential management tactics targeting PC prior to the following season. The finding of PC’s tendency to fly during midseason provides information on how monitoring traps should be deployed to efficiently capture PC and shows that during midseason, using insecticide application methods that can target flying PC in the canopies is important.

    Project objectives:

    Objective 1: To investigate plum curculio dispersal patterns form the forested border and distribution within the adjacent peach orchard over time.

    Objective 2: To determine primary dispersal mode and behavior (flight or walking) of plum curculio within a peach orchard throughout the season.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.