UCR Researchers Among Team Honored for Innovative Pest Management Effort

ACP Biocontrol Taskforce from left to right: Ruth Henderson (CRB), Raju Pandey (CRB), Mike Pitcairn (CDFA), Greg Simmons (USDA-APHIS-CPHST), David Morgan (CDFA), Brian Leahy (Director, DPR), Jim Gorden (Chairman, CRB), and Mark Hoddle (UCR)

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently honored The Citrus Research Board (CRB) Joint Agency Biological Control Task Force for their development of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to help control the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). The effort was spearheaded by Mark Hoddle, a biological control specialist and director of UCR’s Center for Invasive Species Research.

The task force was one of four programs honored at the IPM Achievement Awards ceremony in Sacramento on Feb. 12. IPM is a tool that allows people to manage pests using natural and preventative strategies, thus reducing the use of chemical pesticides.

CRB established the task force in 2010 to help control ACPs, which are a serious threat to the $3 billion California citrus industry. ACPs, which are as small as a grain of rice, can infect citrus trees with bacteria that cause Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening disease. There is no cure for HLB and it is fatal to trees. In addition to the UCR scientists (which included Christina Hoddle, Richard Stouthamer, Joseph Morse, and numerous technicians, graduate students and post-graduate researchers working in the Hoddle and Stouthamer labs in the Entomology Department), the task force comprises experts from the CRB, California Department of Food & Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture, and Cal Poly-Pomona.

Instead of relying on conventional pesticides to kill this insect, the task force, with assistance from colleagues at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, developed a program using parasitic wasps imported from Punjab Pakistan, to reduce pest populations infesting California citrus. The wasps are natural enemies of ACP. The project has been successfully implemented in several counties, including Imperial, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties.

Asian citrus psyllid feeding on citrus (Credit: Mike Lewis, Center for Invasive Species Research, UC Riverside)

“Christina Hoddle and I visited Pakistan six times and collected and studied parasitic wasps attacking ACP over a two-and-a-half-year period. We then ran safety tests to demonstrate that these wasps likely posed little or no risk to California’s environment,” Mark Hoddle said. “One of the wasps we released, Tamarixia radiata, established readily and spread fast. After three years of monitoring we can see that ACP densities have been reduced by about 70 percent in some areas.”

For more on this story, read the California Department of Pesticide Regulation press release and watch a video about the task force.

Sarah Nightingale 

‘When I Sing’ People’s Choice Nominee at Hollywood Film Festival

Robin Russin directs the film staring Grammy nominee Linda Chorney, who plays herself.

The Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival has named “When I Sing,” a film directed by Robin Russin, professor of screenwriting and playwriting, a 2018 People’s Choice Award Nominee. The film will be shown this weekend in Los Angeles. 

Funny, irreverent, and real, with singer-songwriter Linda Chorney playing herself, “When I Sing” is the true story of a middle-aged, female indie musician’s wild ride toward finally being “almost famous” as a Grammy nominee, after thirty years of gigging on the road.

Robin has written, produced, consulted and directed for numerous film, TV and theatre productions, including the box office hit On Deadly Ground; America’s Most Wanted on Fox; and Vital Signs on ABC, where he was Senior Producer. Among the plays he has directed are Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Charles Evered’s Class, and Eric Barr’s A Piece of My Mind.

The screening will be Feb. 25 at 8:15, located at Regal Cinemas at LA LIVE.

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