Exploration of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) and other beneficial microbes in Oregon grass seed production systems

An update on the Oregon Seed Council and the Western IPM Center-funded project to conduct an area-wide survey of commercial grass seed fields. Our goal is to determine what species of entomopathogenic or insect parasitic nematodes and or other beneficial microbes occur in grass seed production systems and if these organisms have the potential to become promising biological control agents against soil-dwelling insects -like sod webworm, billbugs, and cutworms.

The objectives of this project are to 1) conduct area-wide surveys in the commercial grass seed production systems to determine the occurrence and distribution of EPN species in western OR, 2) identify the isolated EPNs using molecular techniques and maintain lab cultures for infectivity tests), 3) to conduct infectivity trials using EPN species identified during the survey and comparing their efficacy to the commercially available EPN based products against sod webworm under laboratory conditions.

Watch a short YouTube video for the project activities

  • We collect soil samples (five random locations per site) from commercial field sites (18) on a biweekly basis
  • Soil baiting experiment setup includes using a subsample of field-collected soil and baiting with healthy wax moth larva. EPNs are commonly reared on wax moth larva to maintain EPN culture and mass-produce. Wax moth larvae were ordered from Bassett’s Cricket Ranch (Visalia, CA, USA) through Amazon.com
  • Incubation- One-week incubation under the dark condition at ~22°C
  • Recovery of wax moth larva and transfer to white traps. A white trap is a method of placing infected insects in a small Petri dish inside a bigger Petri dish with a film of water
  • White traps are then incubated at room temperature (~22°C) and observed daily
  • Data is being collected and will be disseminated soon.

A survey is designed to assess current knowledge of biocontrol agents and practices and to evaluate the most critical limitations and knowledge gaps for developing biocontrol strategies for grass seed systems

Western IPM Center-Biocontrol Survey Phase 1

Please help us fill out this survey to collect baseline data on the control methods currently used by grass seed growers to manage soil-borne insect pests; 2) assess the feasibility and ability to integrate biocontrol tactics into existing insect pest management practices. We will distribute two $25 gift cards as raffle prizes. We appreciate your participation in this study!

Please contact Dr. Navneet Kaur or Dr. Betsy Verhoeven if there is any question.

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