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Phoenix Laboratory

Phoenix Lab, Phoenix, Arizona

Location: 3645 E. Wier Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85040
Phone: (602) 431-3230
Fax: (602) 431-3258
Contact: Matt Ciomperlik

The Phoenix Lab’s mission is to develop, adapt, and implement area-wide control technologies for program pests. Current work includes developing control tools, methods, equipment, and support for rangeland grasshoppers/Mormon cricket complex, and Navel Orange Worm (NOW). These control technologies include biological control methods for the use of fungal pathogens, sterile insect technique, pheromones, new environmentally friendly insecticides, ground and aerial delivery systems, and geographic information system applications. The lab’s scientists conduct extensive laboratory and field development and operational scale studies to test and validate materials, methods, and equipment.

The Phoenix Lab’s rangeland section works with Federal and State customers to provide technical assistance for the grasshopper and Mormon cricket control programs. This section also develops and implements solutions to program problems and continuously evaluates the technology and tools of the control program to maintain state-of-the-art status.  Current work on Navel Orange Worm includes developing mass rearing and sterile insect technique methods to be integrated in an area-wide management program to combat the pest in pistachio and almond production systems.

Notable Accomplishments

Rangeland Grasshopper/Mormon Cricket Section

  • Continue to evaluate Rynaxypyr in field trials against rangeland grasshopper populations in an effort to determine effective dose range. Field trials with chlorantraniliprole have shown the insecticide equal in performance to current chemistries, and has been rated as soft on beneficial and non-target organisms.  Rynaxypyr will be included in the revised Environmental Impact Statement.  This will allow it to be included in the Statement of Work and available for Rangeland control programs.
  • Bifenthrin in a bait formulation produces mortality comparable to carbaryl formulations used for rangeland grasshopper and Mormon cricket control.  Feeding studies have shown that carbaryl and bifenthrin are similar in their species control profiles.  These studies will begin to focus on finding a feeding attractant to increase the mortality in species that are listed as non-bait acceptors.
  • Work with selected Metarhizium sps. isolates has moved to field trials using protocols and methods for tests of the biopesticides.  Small replicated plot methods have been developed that will speed the search for suitable biopesticide field applications including UV screens and encapsulation technology.  The methodology can be transfer to new pathogens such as Bacillus thuringensis crystals.
  • Collaborated with ARS to conduct field test to determine the fate of the exotic grasshopper specific pathogen, Metarhizium acridum, exposed to field conditions in the northern plains.  An application for a permit to study the pathogen under field conditions in mini plots is being submitted. 
  • Unmanned aerial systems are being field tested to determine utility in grasshopper survey and detection.  Current work has shown them to be able to measure forage differences in areas treated for grasshopper control when compared with untreated plots using near infrared sensors that measure bare soil reflectance.  Lidar technology will be added to the senor array to facilitate plant height measurements.
  • Collaboration with ASU and Global Locust Initiative to share methodology with others conducting research on grasshoppers/migratory locust worldwide.

Navel Orange Worm Section

  • Developed diet improvements for Navel Orange Worm (NOW) and transitioned to lower cost ingredients, adding in preservatives and antimicrobial agents all the while preserving production levels. 
  • Developed a diet produced on the large scale extruder allowing much higher daily production of finished diet in preparation for transition from experimental scale production to full production.
  • Continued methods development testing for more efficient rearing techniques including using rearing units without lidding paper, optimizing the loading of eclosion boxes, testing and selection of new handling equipment, and optimizing egg to diet ratio.
  • Tested NOW production in the Pink Bollworm Rearing Facility at full scale by harvesting over 5,000,000 adult moths in less than a week.  This was a process covering 10 weeks from implant of first eggs on diet to the final harvest of adult moths for production.  Also conducted full scale test releases using aircraft.
  • Determined the minimum radiation dose to fully sterilize NOW adults in preparation for pilot project field releases.
  • Selected a “mass production strain” of NOW resulting in increased egg production and more efficient production and handling of adults for use in egg production


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