An official website of the United States government.

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Exotic Pests and Diseases


To provide funding to Experiment Stations and other research institutions for projects that address exotic pests/invasive species pertinent to California, by means of a peer-reviewed grants program.

More information

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Exotic pests and diseases can become established and cause billions of dollars in damage to California's urban, agricultural, and natural environments. This project supports research to determine how various exotic pest species invade California; factors which determine whether or not they will become established; and how incipient, low-density infestations are best detected and managed.


APPROACH: Through the Exotic Pests and Diseases Research Program (EPDRP), established in 2001 under a CSREES Special Research Grant, the UC Statewide IPM Program (UCIPM) and the UC Center for Invasive Species Research (CISR) coordinate research that addresses invasive species which have, or could become established in California. This research provides the science on which policy decisions can be made and management strategies developed. The EPDRP solicits proposals from scientists affiliated with public research institutions, both within and outside of California, through a Request for Proposals (RFP). Funding is not restricted to UC investigators, although it is suggested that at least one investigator on each proposal be a UC DANR academic to ensure relevance to exotic pests/invasive species of particular importance to California, and linkage to the Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension system. Multidisciplinary and multi-institutional proposals are encouraged to address specific issues and to allow the results of sponsored research projects to have broader utility. Proposals are solicited to study exotic pests/invasive species in agricultural, natural and urban systems. The grants program is managed by UCIPM. The Program Director works closely with a stakeholders' Program Advisory Committee, to establish program direction and priorities. The RFP is distributed through the Western Experiment Station Directors and Deans, to deans or research offices of other public universities and research institutions with evidence of strong exotic pest programs, and to USDA Regional Pest Management Center Directors. Scientific review panels evaluate the proposals, considering the Advisory Committee's recommendations and priorities as to critical needs, appropriateness of the proposal to meet those needs, experimental design, and adequacy of the personnel and facilities to ensure the fulfillment of the proposal objectives. A Technical Committee integrates rankings across science panel research areas, and the Advisory Committee reviews all information and makes funding recommendations to the program directors. An annual research workshop provides an opportunity for researchers to report on their findings and allow a forum for discussion about other exotic pest research related to California environments.
PROGRESS: 2002/09 TO 2005/08<br>
This grant, a collaboration between UC Statewide IPM Program and UCR Center for Invasive Species Research, sponsored the UC Exotic/Invasive Pests and Diseases Research Program (2002-05). The grant funded projects that addressed exotic pests/invasive species of importance to California. Descriptions can be found at Agricultural systems <UL> <LI> Effectiveness of composted yard waste against avocado thrips: mulching promotes numbers and activity of natural enemies. <LI>Determining the area of origin of avocado thrips using molecular techniques: distinguishes origins of avocado thrips species to help identify thrips found in California. <LI>Improving mass rearing of Mediterranean fruit flies and sterile male performance: some probiotic formulations result in improved mating performance, calling activity, or life expectancy. <LI>Targeting the glassy-winged sharpshooter alimentary tract for control of Pierce's disease: identified antibodies that bind to and interfere with proteins in GW|SS saliva and gut. Natural systems <LI>Intensive grazing and revegetation to control medusahead: Intense precision grazing, applying high animal densities for short periods, maximized grazing pressure on medusahead and avoided impacts on desirable weeds. <LI>Managing insect vectors of pitch canker: Determined how many pathogen propagules are carried by different beetle species; sometimes, males and females carry different amounts. <LI>Impacts and control of an invasive seaweed, Sargassum muticum: Removing seaweed manually two to three times annually, before it has reproduced, allows increases in native biota after two or three years. <LI>Managing European green crab in coastal estuaries: Confirmed that green crabs are significant predator of juvenile and adult native oysters; trapping to reduce local crab populations improves oyster survival. <LI> Impacts and control of giant reed in riparian habitats: Characterizes traits related to invasiveness of Arundo donax and impact on microclimate of native riparian species. Urban systems <LI>Controlling Argentine ant infestations in buildings: Water inside of rooms is best predictor of ant infestation. <LI>Biological control of spotted gum psyllid in eucalyptus: Identified a parasitoid species as an effective agent against spotted gum psyllid, and it can be developed for rearing for release. <LI>Differential susceptibility of eucalyptus longhorned borers to an egg parasitoid: Parasite Avetianella longoi can't be made to attack Phorocantha recurva. Host egg appears to mount active defense against pariasitoid. <LI>Distribution and control of the German yellowjacket: Fipronil mixed with ground chicken eliminated German population within hours, destroying colony completely. </ul>

IMPACT: 2002/09 TO 2005/08<br>
Specific impacts of individual projects:<UL> <LI>Natural enemies found in mulch around trees reduces avocado thrips emergence; specifically amended mulches may reverse trend for growers to use insecticides. <LI> Probiotics reduce costs of preservatives and antimicrobials used in mass-reared fruit fly diets. <LI> Varying ability of beetles to transmit pitch canker pathogen help predict future distribution of disease on other hosts, and help to focus on key vectors.<LI>Guidelines can be used to train volunteers in community-based Sargassum muticum removal programs to control the alga in marine reserves. <LI>Guidelines for reducing local crab populations help shellfish growers or natural area managers to restore native oyster populations without increasing green crabs. <LI>Invasive characteristics of giant reed allow researchers to recommend timing and level of removal needed to provide conditions for native species restoration. <LI> Intensive animal grazing for short periods in late spring or mid and late spring reduces medusahead cover by more than 80% and can reduce dependency on chemical and fire as controls.

Lyons, James
University of California - Office of the President
Start date
End date
Project number
Accession number