Research targets insect pests of pulse crops

Around the world, pulse crops–such as beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils–are an important staple in the modern food supply, and their cultivation is growing in the United States and many other Western countries. As in any agricultural system, though, pulse crops can fall victim to a wide range of insect pests.

Pulse crop growers facing pest management challenges will soon have a new set of resources to tap into with the July issue of the Annals of the Entomological Society of America. The issue features a special collection with nine articles on pulse crop insect pests and management strategies.

The collection arises from a gathering of experts at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America. “We had excellent speakers from all over the world during our special symposium,” says Gadi V.P. Reddy, Ph.D., professor of entomology and insect ecology and Montana State University and editor of the special collection. “I was truly motivated in delivering this information from the symposium to the growers and stakeholders who are looking for solutions for managing the insect pests on pulse crops.”

Articles in the collection range from reviews of current knowledge on major pests of pulse crops, such as the pea weevil (Bruchus pisorum) and the pea leaf weevil (Sitona lineatus), to explorations of both the microbes that pulse crop pests spread and the microbes that could be used for pulse crop pest control. Methods for managing pests in the storage of harvested pulses is also covered.

The collection also offers insights on the research most needed to keep up with the growing levels of pulse crop farming. Reddy says he hopes the collaborative effort will spark added interest in pulse crop pest entomology.

“We need to develop economic threshold levels for different insect pests from different regions,” he says. “We are trying to garner more funds to work on pulse entomology, and we are also trying to recruit more graduate students and postdocs to work on the pulse insect pests.”

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