Development of novel control options for agapanthus gall midge

Purpose/Primary Objective

To improve current knowledge and develop novel control strategies for agapanthus gall midge (Enigmadiplosis agapanthi) in outdoor agapanthus crops.

Background

Agapanthus gall midge (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) affects plants of the agapanthus genus, causing discolouration and deformities of the buds, resulting in a failure to flower or the collapse of the entire head. It was first identified in 2014 following a report to the RHS of agapanthus damage in a garden in Surrey. Further examination revealed the pest to be already widespread in the UK, probably arriving in the country two years prior to identification. There appear to be no climatic barriers to the establishment of this pest in the UK.

There are approximately 100 agapanthus growers in the UK, selling over 1.52 million cut stems and 400,000 containerised plants each year. It is estimated that the potential cost to a nursery infested with this pest could be as high as £840,000. Currently, the only control option available to growers is to remove infested flower heads. If ineffective however, plants cannot be sold until the following year providing no further infestation occurs. This is particularly problematic in field-grown crops where soil infested with larvae cannot be removed.

In response to the emergence of this pest in the UK, an AHDB project (HNS PO 199) was established to provide more information on the biology of this insect, examine the potential for differences in varietal susceptibility, and investigate the effectiveness of chemical and biological control options. Large numbers of larvae can be present in infested flower heads and once mature drop to the soil. Project HNS PO 199 identified the potential for overlapping generations of the midge, making targeted control more difficult. Another major constraint with chemical control of this insect and other gall midge pests is that once inside the buds and stems of plants, larvae are protected from contact-acting pesticide sprays. It is felt that there is limited benefit in exploring pheromone traps for this species before control measures have been tested, therefore the focus of the research should be on disruption to the life cycle, systemic or biological controls. This pest species is not covered by the work being done in year two of SCEPTREplus, however a research review has been commissioned on chemical and biological controls of gall midges in soft fruit crops.

Submissions should address the knowledge gaps surrounding agapanthus gall midge identified in project HNS PO 199 and provide a brief review of the current cultural control options for gall midge pests more generally in the UK and abroad. Methods to evaluate promising novel control options for agapanthus gall midge should be included in the proposal, and may include chemical, biological or physical controls but should not include the use of semiochemicals.

Specific objectives

 To review cultural control methods of gall midge pests and identify gaps in current knowledge, including any areas that might be exploited to enable effective control based on project HNS PO 199

  • To assess different methods of reducing damage and crop loss resulting from infestation of agapanthus gall midge in outdoor (field-grown) agapanthus crops

  • To develop recommendations for growers for the control of agapanthus gall midge.

 Each proposal should:

  • Propose potential management options based on current knowledge of agapanthus gall midge and other gall midge pests

  • Describe how the research will quantify the effectiveness of potential management options in a crop-realistic scenario

  • Propose a method for the collection of baseline data prior to interventions.

The above list is indicative and is not meant to be exhaustive. Contractors should seek to identify additional areas of interest and relevance for inclusion in the study.

Scope

This project will be focused on outdoor agapanthus crops and aims to provide growers with practical information and/or tools for the management of agapanthus gall midge. Given the similarity between this species and other gall midge pest species in terms of life cycle and crop systems, a brief review of cultural control methods for other midge pests will be conducted prior to trials of novel control methods being undertaken. It is expected that the project will be led by an organisation with proven experience of conducting relevant high quality research and communication activities.

Collaboration and co-sponsorship

Joint applications from two or more organisations are acceptable and encouraged where there is added value. AHDB reserves the right to not proceed with any application or, if appropriate, to request applicants to form a consortium to work together to deliver a programme of activities.

Budget and duration

AHDB has set aside a maximum budget of £25,000 over one year for this activity, applicants can bid for a portion of this budget or the full amount depending on the work proposed. The earliest date of commencement for projects funded as a result of this call will be October 2018.

Panel

Funding

Protected Ornamentals, Bulbs and Outdoor Flowers

£25,000

Application procedure

Applicants should complete an AHDB Research and KE Application Form – Full Proposal Large, referring to the guidance notes to aid completion. The criteria upon which the proposals will be assessed can be accessed here. Under section 2.7 (How will success be measured e.g. KPI’s?) applicants should provide a description of how the impact of their proposed programme of work could be evaluated, including any baseline data that would need to be collected at/before the start of the work.

Applications are made on the basis of the AHDB Research Funding Agreement and any organisation receiving funding shall comply with the terms and conditions specified in the RFA. AHDB will not be held responsible for any expenses or losses incurred by applicants in the preparation of an application(s).

Completed application forms should be submitted to research@ahdb.org.uk no later than midday on the 10 September 2019

Proposed timings for application and project delivery

Stage of Process

Deadline

Call published

10 August 2018

Full proposal submission deadline

10 September 2018

Applicants informed of outcome

17 September 2018

Project commencement

1 October 2018

Project completion

30 September 2019

Questions

If you have a specific question related to this call please email research@ahdb.org.uk.  As part of the open tender process AHDB cannot discuss specific project details prior to submission of a proposal. All Questions and Answers can be accessed here.

Related information

Previous research:

HNS PO 199 (2017) Biology and control of agapanthus gall midge

SF 158 Annual report (2017) Optimising the use of integrated pest and disease management in cane fruit production systems: 2015 - 2020

SF 102 (2011) Biology and integrated control of blackberry leaf midge on blackberry and raspberry

SF 101 (2011) Alternatives to chlorpyrifos for raspberry cane midge control