The moth's larvae are among the worst pests for the $9.5 billion U.S. floriculture and nursery crop industry.
Research is underway to combat one of the most damaging pest insects for the multi-billion-dollar U.S. floriculture and nursery crop industry – the European pepper moth. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is leading the work.
Mengmeng Gu, AgriLife Extension specialist and professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University, and co-principal investigator Steven Frank, entomologist and plant pathologist at North Carolina State University, will conduct the study at locations in both states.
The three-year study is funded by a $325,000 grant from the Crop Protection and Pest Management program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The study’s purpose is to improve integrated pest management strategies and provide data that can be used to decrease economic losses from the pest in commercial nursery and greenhouse settings.
The European pepper moth was first sighted in the U.S. in 2004 in San Diego County, California. The pest has now been reported in multiple locations from Washington to New York, throughout the southern states and into Canada. Management practices are proving ineffective due to a lack of available information regarding the European pepper moth’s distribution, populations, life cycle, plant preferences or effective insecticides.
“European pepper moths are a huge issue for the nursery and greenhouse industry,” Gu said. “They can negatively impact a wide range of plants, and our goal is to control their damage and provide sound best management practices for growers.”