Enhancement, Implementation - Evaluation of Biologically Based Pest Management Tactic for Three Key Pests in Production Nurseries

2003 Annual Report for LNE02-167

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $138,636.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $32,651.00
Region: Northeast
State: Maryland
Project Leader:
Dr. Paula Shrewsbury
University of Maryland

Enhancement, Implementation - Evaluation of Biologically Based Pest Management Tactic for Three Key Pests in Production Nurseries


The four phases of the proposed four-year project are: 1) research to evaluate the efficacy of, and refine techniques for using a biologically based pest management tactic, 2) a demonstration phase to integrate this and other tactics into a biologically based IPM program in commercial nurseries and evaluate their applicability (efficacy, ease of use, and profitability), 3) an education phase to extend results to end users and increase the likelihood of adoption of these biologically based tactics and IPM, and 4) perform an impact assessment to determine and document changes in practice, knowledge, and attitudes of beneficiaries.

In addition, a committee of project beneficiaries (IPM scouts, nursery managers, and demonstration cooperators) will be formed. Feedback, in the form of discussions and emails with project investigators, will be solicited at key points in the project to assure the project stays on track.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  1. To refine and evaluate biologically based pest management tactics, habitat manipulations, for their feasibility (effectiveness, ease of use, and profitability) in increasing generalist predator populations, with a concomitant reduction in pest populations (research).

    We predict that three of the four commercial nurseries and all three of the IPM scouts engaged in the demonstration phase of the project will continue to implement biologically based pest management tactics over chemical tactics (demonstration).

    We predict that 100 of the 250 nurseries in Maryland will increase their implementation of biologically based tactics, and that 25 of the 36 participating Cooperative Extension personnel in the northeast region will increase the number of times they train on biologically based control tactics for one year after participating in SARE education programs compared to the previous year (education and evaluation).


For 2002, our goal was to develop and evaluate biologically based pest management tactics by conducting an applied research project. (Performance Target 1). More specifically, we wished to determine: 1) the effect of adding wood mulch to nursery beds with container plants of Cotoneaster dammeri as compared to weed cloth beds, and 2) the effect of plant/pot position (above ground compared to pot in pot) on arthropod (herbivore, alternate prey, natural enemy) taxa and abundance and herbivore (Hawthorn lace bug and black vine weevil) survival. This goal was accomplished.

For 2003, the demonstration phase of the project was initiated. This phase integrates biologically based tactics into commercial nurseries and evaluates their applicability, and compares a biologically based IPM program to a conventional IPM program. The goal is to increase the implementation and adoption of biologically based pest management tactics over chemical tactics (Performance Target 2). The demonstration phase also continues into 2004.

In 2003, we identified three nursery cooperators and began implementation of the demonstration program. We are able to examine all of the tactics and pest systems proposed in the project using three nursery cooperators and the amount of labor and time input into each demonstration nursery is greater than anticipated. Therefore the demonstration phase of this project will be implemented at three nurseries rather than four as stated in the initial proposal. In one nursery, we have implemented a program targeting the management of azaleas and their key pest, azalea lace bug. We are currently examining biologically based tactics such as the use of wood-mulch ground cover, a pot-in-pot planting system, and augmentative release of predators. In a second nursery, we are examining the use of augmentative releases of predatory mites to manage a key mite pest, southern red mite, on Ilex species. In a third nursery, we will examine the use of the pot-in-pot planting system and entomopathogenic nematodes to manage black vine weevil. These tactics will begin in the spring of 2004.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

In 2002, we evaluated a pest management tactic, habitat manipulations, for its feasibility in increasing generalist predator populations, with a concomitant reduction in pest populations and damage (Performance Target 1). In comparing the taxa and abundance of alternative prey and natural enemies in plant containers between mulch and weed cloth beds, and pot position (pot in pot vs. above ground pots) we found no effect of mulch. However, natural enemies were greater in pot-in-pot containers than in above ground containers. Individual predators such as ants, rove beetles, ground beetles, and spiders, and a parasitoid (Scelionidae) were found to be more abundant within pot-in-pot containers than in containers above ground. Arthropods, such as Collembola, that serve as alternative prey for beneficial insects were again more common in the pot-in-pot position than the containers above ground.

We found that the mulch and no-mulch treatments rarely had an effect or a reduction in the survival of hawthorn lace bug nymphs or the eggs and larvae of black vine weevils. We also found that the pot position had a variable effect on hawthorn lace bug survival. However, pot position did significantly affect black vine weevil egg and larvae survival. In all experiments, predation of eggs and larvae was higher in containers placed pot-in-pot versus above ground.

For the demonstration project in 2003, we are currently analyzing data on pest survival and natural enemy activity from two nurseries. Demonstration programs are continuing in 2004.
Results of this research were presented at two professional conferences in 2003.


Stanton Gill

[email protected]
Regional Extension Specialist
University of Maryland Coop. Extension Service
Central MD Research and Education Center
11975 Homewood Road
Ellicott City, MD 21042
Office Phone: 3015969413
Colin Stewart

[email protected]
4700 River Road
Riverdale, MD 20737-1231