Signal management

California invests $3.75 million to fund safer, more sustainable pest control

SACRAMENTO ― The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) today awarded $3.75 million to fund 10 research projects that explore Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tools for urban, non-agricultural, and agricultural pest management. The 2021-2022 DPR grant programs funded by the state budget represent a 617% increase over the previous year’s funding to accelerate the transition to safer and more sustainable pest management.

“The grant projects we are funding today are essential to the development and expansion of innovative practices and biological, non-chemical and physical tools to manage pests in agriculture, urban communities and other non-farm communities. said Julie Henderson, director of the DPR. “The research will support the state’s work to accelerate a system-wide transition to safer and more sustainable pest management and better protect human health and the environment.”

The DPR Research Grants Program funds projects that advance IPM, an approach that uses the least toxic and most effective method of solving pest problems. Over the past decade, DPR has awarded $9,702,819 in research grants.

Funded research projects for agricultural pest management:

Investigate a pesticide-free mating disruption approach using vibration cues to control the Spotted Lantern Fly, which poses a particular risk to grapes, hops, apples, and stone fruits, as well as maples, poplars, walnut trees and willows. The spotted lantern is one of the most damaging invasive insects nationwide and has already caused significant damage to crops and landscapes in 11 states. This research will be led by Dr. Rodrigo Krugner of the United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS).

· Evaluate an IPM approach that will disrupt insect behavior by targeting and interfering with a pest’s biological processes and minimizing possible unintended effects on other organisms. The project will evaluate the use of this tool to control diamondback moth and western flower thrips that impact California vegetable crops such as lettuce. This research will be led by Dr. Daniel Hasegawa of USDA ARS.

· Evaluation of a biological control system for the management of tadpole shrimp in rice. Tadpole shrimp eat some weeds usefully early in the season, but can damage rice later in their life cycle. To preserve their role in weed control but lessen the subsequent impact of shrimp on the rice harvest, predatory mosquito fish will be introduced mid-season to control the shrimp population if necessary. This research will be led by Dr. Ian Grettenberger at UC Davis.

Testing two emerging IPM technologies for agricultural use, the automatic release of biological control organisms using flying drones and precision spray application technology, which uses significantly less pesticide than applying sprays of pesticides using current techniques. This research will be led by Dr. Ian Grettenberger at UC Davis.

· Develop IPM decision support software for pistachio growers that helps reduce pesticide use by guiding more accurate pesticide applications when chemical use is required. This IPM tool leverages smart technology to help growers transition from routine preventative spraying to more limited threshold-based chemical use. This research will be led by Dr. Themis Michailides at UC Davis.

Research projects funded for urban and agricultural pest control:

Investigate the use of a reduced-risk “attract and kill” approach as an effective alternative to urban and agricultural pesticide spraying programs to manage South American palm weevils, a pest that damages date palms in urban and agricultural environments. “Attract and kill” strategies use pheromones that attract the targeted pest to a small amount of pesticide that kills the insect, as opposed to spraying a large amount of pesticide over an area to control pest populations. This research will be led by Dr. Mark Hoddle at UC Riverside.

· Investigate the impact and potential of using insect growth regulators targeting Argentine ants for pest control in urban and agricultural settings. Insect growth regulators are new, safer pest control tools that pose a much lower risk of causing unintended harm to beneficial insects compared to many traditional insecticides. This research will be led by Dr. Dong-Hwan Choe at UC Riverside.

Research projects funded for urban and non-agricultural pest management:

· Testing non-chemical trapping methods to trap, monitor, and eradicate bed bugs, a major public health pest that disproportionately affects low-income Californians. This research will be led by Dr. Catherine Loudon at UC Irvine.

· Create a new set of guidelines to effectively identify and manage biting mites, a common but poorly understood indoor pest that is often misidentified and mismanaged. This research will be led by Dr. Andrew Sutherland of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR).

Evaluate a baiting system to detect western drywood termites to reduce the number of unnecessary fumigation treatments in California homes, especially in Southern California where termites are a significant pest problem . This system would indicate when active termite infestations have returned and if preventative treatment is needed, greatly reducing the amount of high-risk pesticide use in homes. This research will be led by Dr. Dong-Hwan Choe at UC Riverside.

For more information on past recipients of the DPR Grant Program, please visit the DPR Grant Program webpage.


The California Department of Pesticide Regulation protects human health and the environment by promoting safer and more sustainable pest management practices and by operating a robust regulatory system to evaluate and register pesticides and monitor and regulate their sale and use throughout the state.

DPR’s work includes conducting scientific evaluations of pesticides to assess and mitigate potential harm to human health or the environment before and after registration, registration of all pesticides before sale or use in California, air and water pesticide monitoring and pesticide law enforcement. and regulations in coordination with 55 county agricultural commissioners and their combined 400 field inspectors in all 58 counties of the state. DPR invests in innovative research, awareness and education to encourage the development and adoption of integrated pest management tools and practices and conducts awareness activities to ensure that pesticide workers, agricultural workers and local communities have access to pesticide safety information. More information about DRP.