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Funded Project
Funding Program: Regional IPM Competitive Grants - Northeastern
Project Title: Towards Implementation of a Novel Fungal Biopesticide for IPM of Bed Bugs
Project Director (PD):
Nina Jenkins [1]
Lead State:

Lead Organization: Penn State University
Funding: $21,000
Start Date: Oct-01-2012

End Date: Sep-30-2013
Summary: This is a research project to develop a novel formulations of fungal entomopathogens for implementation as components of IPM of bed bugs. This project addresses the NE RIPM Stakeholder priorities within the Community and Structural IPM setting. Specifically, a need for 'New and emerging technologies and techniques' that could be fully integrated with IPM strategies is identified. The overall aim of this project is to build on the work already conducted in this laboratory that demonstrates that conidia of Beauveria bassiana, formulated in oil and sprayed on surfaces, act as an effective residual pesticide capable of killing 100% of bed bugs that come into brief contact with the spray residue in 3-4 days and 90% of unexposed bed bugs that come into contact with exposed bed bugs in harborages. Our overall objective of this 12 month project is to develop this biopesticide technology to the point where it is ready for field testing and evaluation in collaboration with partners from other NE States as part of a Renewal Application. To achieve this, we will select one of two fungal isolates that are currently registered for use as biopesticides for other pests. Both are effective under our standard bioassay conditions, but we will select the isolate that demonstrates best long-term efficacy over the typical temperature range found in houses. Secondly, we will screen a range of different textiles to select the best material for creating a bed skirt or other barrier over which bed bugs must cross to reach a human host. This barrier should deliver the maximum number of conidia to the bed bug and support long-term viability of the conidia to maximize the time interval between treatments. Finally, we will design a suite of 'formulations' to include bed skirts/barriers, a spray formulation for the base board/carpet interface and a 'paint-on' formulation for application around electrical fitments, cracks, crevices and other likely harborages to create a complete treatment solution for implementation as part of an IPM program. These objectives will be achieved within 12 months and be ready for field testing in IPM settings by the end of 2013. Use of biopesticide technology will reduce the risks to human health posed by chemicals, and effect improved control of infestations via auto-dissemination of conidia to populations in harborages that cannot be targeted with existing chemical control measures.

Objectives: This project proposal builds on the considerable progress that has been made in this lab towards the development of novel oil formulations and barrier treatments of B. bassiana (I93-825) and M. anisopliae (ESF1) for the control of bed bugs in domestic dwellings. Supporting data and a full description of the research work that has lead to this point is provided in Appendix 1, as an attachment to this proposal. We have demonstrated that by spraying an oil formulation of fungal conidia of B. bassiana onto a surface such at jersey knit cotton, we can infect bed bugs simply through short term exposure to the pre-sprayed substrate. Exposed bed bugs die within 3-4 days, and additionally, carry conidia back to their harborages to infect those bed bugs that would otherwise be unaffected by a spray treatment. In order to prepare this technology for field- testing, we have three objectives, which we anticipate will be completed within 12 months. Having achieved these, we propose to submit a Renewal Application in 2013, to include collaborators from other NE States for field-testing of the technology. This 12-month project has three components:

  1. Isolate Selection To compare the virulence of two promising commercial (EPA registered1) fungal entomopathogens to bed bugs over the temperature range of 15-30oC.

  2. Textile Screening To evaluate the relative transfer/pick-up of conidia sprayed in oil formulations to bed bugs exposed to a range of candidate textile substrates.

  3. Development of a comprehensive delivery system Design prototype spore delivery technologies for field evaluation next year in collaboration with bed bug IPM researchers in other States.

Through achieving these objectives, we will be contributing to the science base for management of bed bugs and provide an effective, safe, alternative to chemical pesticides. This will contribute to safeguarding human health through the reduction in the use of chemicals in the home. Furthermore, we are confident that this technology will provide superior control of bed bug via auto-dissemination of conidia to bed bugs in inaccessible areas and provide longer term protection from re-infestation via barrier treatments to prevent immigration of bed bugs from neighboring properties.

Safeguarding human health - The outputs from this 12-month project aim to provide an effective suite of treatment types, based on the use of fungal conidia that can be effectively implemented in the IPM of bed bugs. Via a Renewal Application in 2013, we will conduct field-testing in apartment blocks to demonstrate efficacy. Both fungal entomopathogens that we have selected for development are EPA registered and have undergone all the necessary human safety testing for registration. The safety of entomopathogens is well documented, see Zimmerman 2007a,b. Through the development and implementation of a biopesticide product for bed bug control in IPM settings, we will be providing an effective and safe alternative to chemical pesticides in the home.

Economic benefits - We anticipate technology transfer and commercialization of the technology that we develop. We have a good relationship with the companies that hold the registration for these entomopathogenic fungi, on of which is based in Pennsylvania. They are keen to undertake production and sales and marketing of the resulting product. Based on the application rates that we are currently using, we anticipate the product will be cost competitive with current chemicals. We also anticipate longer term and more effective control of bed bugs when using the biopesticide in conjunction with existing IPM strategies.

Implementation of IPM - Following this initial 12-month project, we will propose a Renewal Application to take the technology into the field. At this stage we will involve IPM practitioners from multiple NE States to conduct field trials, using the biopesticide in conjunction with their best practice IPM strategies. Results will be collected and information packets developed for distribution to pest controllers and homeowners.


Final Report:

We have progressed well with development of a new commercially viable oil formulated biopesticide for control of bed bugs. We will continue this work to ensure that full registration for the novel formulation is obtained and implementation for in home use can occur.
Penn State University will license this Patented technology to a qualified commercial entity capable of taking this technology to the marketplace. Further more, additional funding from the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences has been made available to support the generation of critical safety data required for registration of the product by the EPA. We anticipate that this product will become commercially available in 2015.
Report Appendices

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