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Low-cost Pheromone Traps and Insect-Resistant Varieties of Tomatillos: Sustainable Tools to Achieve Reduction in Pesticide Use and Diminish Damage by the Fruit-Feeding Caterpillar, Heliothis subflexa Guenee (Noctuidae) in the State of Jalisco, Mexico

EPA Grant Number: SU831862
Title: Low-cost Pheromone Traps and Insect-Resistant Varieties of Tomatillos: Sustainable Tools to Achieve Reduction in Pesticide Use and Diminish Damage by the Fruit-Feeding Caterpillar, Heliothis subflexa Guenee (Noctuidae) in the State of Jalisco, Mexico
Investigators: Gould, Fred
Current Investigators: Gould, Fred , Bateman, Melanie , Benda, Nicole , Groot, Astrid , Lopez, Guillermo Gonzalez , Schiers, Jan , Schulze, Birgit
Institution: North Carolina State University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: September 15, 2004 through September 14, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004)
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development

Description:

In West-central Mexico, the tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica Lam.) is a fundamental feature of people's day-to-day diets and, as such, it is an important crop. Cultivation of this plant is shifting from small, intercropped farms to larger monocultures. Thus far, sustainable control measures have not been developed to respond to changes in horticultural practices and concomitant increases in herbivore pressure. The primary agents of damage to fruits of the tomatillo are caterpillars of the species Heliothis subflexa Guenee (Noctuidae), and, at present, broad spectrum pesticides are used to control H. subflexa. We aim to research, develop, and deploy tools that farmers can use to sustainably manage this herbivore. As an immediate means of pesticide and damage reduction, low-cost pheromone-baited traps can be used to detect early stages of H. subflexa infestation. In phase I, we will assess the effectiveness of our trap design and the informativeness of male trap capture.

Through two years of research in the field, common gardens, and the laboratory, we have identified Physalis species that are not suitable hosts of H. subflexa larvae, and the tomatillo can be hybridized wit some of these wild relatives. In the long term, we hope to generate intrinsically resistant tomatillo breeding lines. To move towards this goal, in phase I, we will screen hybrid crosses of the tomatillo and its wild relatives for resistance to H. subflexa. All of our experiments will conducted through the team effort of faculty, graduate and undergraduate students. With the results of phase I, we will be able to judge the feasibility of these strategies, and map out the steps to take in phase II.

Supplemental Keywords:

agriculture, pesticides, pollution prevention, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Ecology and Ecosystems, alternative products, environmental sustainability, insect resistant tomatillos, pheromone traps, pesticide alternative, fruit feeding catepillars, agriculture, pollution prevention

Relevant Websites:

Gould website Exit
Biogeography Exit
Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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