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Tree Fruit: Entomology Research and Extension

Dogwood Borer in Eastern Apple Orchards


Tree fruit entomology research at the center employs the principles of applied insect ecology to address extant and emerging pest management issues in eastern tree fruits. These projects seek to expand our knowledge of the biology and behavior of pest and beneficial species, toward the refinement of existing monitoring and management technologies and the development and validation of new tactics that will reduce reliance on synthetic pesticides.

Research programs at the center include:

  • Pheromone-based management of dogwood borer
  • Biological control of woolly apple aphid, emphasizing the role of hover flies
  • Large-area demonstration trials of alternative apple pest management programs
  • Efficacy trials using new chemistries for tree fruit pest management

Specific projects include:

Extension and Outreach

The center’s Extension and outreach program applies research-based information and knowledge to commercial tree fruit crop growers and the public and addresses needs of the tree fruit crop industry in Virginia.  Emphasis is placed on educating and training growers and Extension agents about new orchard management tactics and new research findings. In order to achieve this, timely, novel, and educational information on orchard management practices is delivered to fruit growers and the public using orchard meetings, fruit schools, workshops, orchard visits, printed materials and numbered Extension publications, phone contacts, and especially electronic media, including e-mail updates and the Tree Fruit IPM website.

Tree fruit entomology Extension work at the center promotes the adoption of pest management decision-making processes that rely on information about the occurrence, relative abundance and developmental stage of pest species. Emphasis is placed on assisting growers in the transition to less reliance on organophosphate pesticides, as mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency’s 1996 Food Quality Protection Act. Regular updates for growers, extension agents and crop consultants throughout each growing season provide information about the current status of key pests of apple and peach, based on pheromone trap-based monitoring in research orchards and on the predictions of degree-day, pest phenology models. New results from pesticide demonstration and efficacy trials are incorporated into all recommendations, toward promotion of optimal pest control and resistance management. 

One key project in the tree fruit entomology Extension program is promoting the adoption of new arthropod pest management practices