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Biological Control of Pepper Weevil


PROBLEM: Pepper weevil is the only economically significant pest for organic pepper farmers in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

SIGNIFICANCE: Only chemically managed farms are able to participate in the lucrative late season pepper market by using a heavy weekly pesticide spray schedule.

STRATEGY: pursue two parallel strategies with regard to this pest: release of pepper weevil parasite Catolaccus hunterii in farmer/cooperator fields, and mass–rearing of a locally adapted parasite for expanded augmentative release.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Secured USDA approval for parasite introduction. Undertook program of weekly parasite releases in cooperation with University of Florida researcher Dr. Dave Schuster during 1999 season. Verified short–term survival and spread of released parasites. Gathered tentative evidence of parasite reproduction. Establishing culture of factitious host Callosobruchus macculatus to allow rearing of locally adapted parasite strain. Establishing parasite culture for study and release on local farms as numbers permit.

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