Current Critical Issues Projects

Each year, the North Central IPM Center chooses to fund research projects related to important pest concerns; the pests may threaten crop productivity or human health or safety. Funding may be awarded to Critical Issue Projects that provides opportunity to better understand a pest's biology or that seek ways to better manage the pest (or both). Pest threats may include diseases, weeds or insects. To learn about the details of our Critical Issues grant opportunities and how to apply, click here.

Past Critical Issues Projects


Development of Degree-day Model for Management of Spotted Wing Drosophila in Small Fruit Production in Missouri

Project Director: Clement Akotsen-Mensah, Lincoln University

The spotted wing drosophila (SWD), Drosophila suzukii was first reported in Missouri in June 2013, and has since become a major pest in Missouri and other states in the North Central Region. It is currently spreading and poses serious threat to small fruit production like blackberries, blueberries, cherries, elderberries, strawberries, and other tree fruit crops. Like many other pests, the development of monitoring tools is an important first step towards an effective IPM program. Fortunately, there are good commercial attractants that are currently available but these traps and attractants have not been tested extensively in Missouri to determine whether they provide early warning, which could aid in early control. A good trap and attractant should be able to sample insects at both low and high insect population levels and also provide reliable estimate of damage levels based on the estimated population size. However, very few SWD traps and attractants can achieve this, which means that more research efforts are required to identify effective traps and attractants particularly, in Missouri. In addition, trap numbers when used in combination with degree-day accumulation can predict early emergence, and seasonal activity pattern of the insect. 


  • Evaluate and fine-tune existing traps and lures as pest monitoring tools for Spotted Wind Drosophila

  • Develop a predictive model using historic trap numbers and degree-day accumulation to aid in proper and timely application of insecticides against Spotted Wind Drosophila


Exploring linkages between IPM practices, social networks, and success of carrot weevil management in the Great Lakes & Mid-Atlantic Regions of the US

Project Director: Elizabeth Y. Long,  Purdue University

The carrot weevil (Listronotus oregonensis) is a pest that threatens carrots, parsley, and celery in key production regions of North America. The carrot weevil (CW) is a small snout beetle whose larvae feed on the stalk, crown, and roots of plants, causing severe injury and plant death. Progress towards management of this pest remains sporadic at best, and as a result, there is heavy reliance on insecticides, which are ineffective and routinely applied blindly. Key constraints to improving CW management are 1) lack of broader knowledge of growers’ IPM practices and knowledge networks across regions where focal crops are grown, and 2) lack of research-based information on the relative costs and benefits of IPM strategies for CW at the commercial field scale.

We propose an interdisciplinary approach to identify social and biological factors that influence the efficacy of CW management tactics across affected states in the Great Lakes and mid-Atlantic regions of the U. S.  Our goal is to identify key management-based factors that influence the efficacy of carrot weevil IPM tactics, so we can synthesize and develop modern management solutions. Although manipulative aspects of this proposal are focused in Ohio, this project represents the first regional effort to address critical CW knowledge gaps and develop future steps towards successful CW management across affected regions. 


1A. Develop and disseminate a survey instrument to compile regional knowledge and adoption of IPM practices against vegetable insect pests, particularly CW.

1B. Assess the importance of knowledge networks in implementation of IPM practices against vegetable pests, particularly CW.

2. Conduct a cost-benefit analysis of CW management strategies in conventional versus delayed planting scenarios, using fresh parsley as a model system.