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Scientist to Release Wasps

Scientist to Release Wasps into Temecula Air

(August 23, 2000)

A scientist from the University of California, Riverside will release one hundred tiny wasps to help beat back a devastating disease killing grape vines in Temecula, one of California's premier wine producing areas.

David Morgan, a Ph.D. in the Department of Entomology at UCR, will release the wasps from their glass vials at 11 a.m. Friday in a Temecula citrus orchard. He will also be available to answer questions about UCR's research program in biological control, a project led by UCR Entomologist Mark Hoddle. The California Department of Food and Agriculture, the city of Temecula and Riverside County fund this three-year research project to combat the glassy-winged sharpshooter.

The wasp is a natural enemy of the sharpshooter, which spreads Pierce's disease. Both insects are native to Mexico. The wasp lays its eggs inside those of the larger sharpshooter. The wasps eat their way out of the sharpshooter eggs, thus killing the sharpshooter offspring.

The wasps, known as Gonatocerus triguttatus, will be released into the organic citrus grove because it provides a pesticide-free environment that is near Temecula vineyards. Entomologists are monitoring the results of the wasp releases in a variety of locations across the state. The wasps will not eliminate the glassy-winged sharpshooter, but should diminish the population, Morgan said.

The glassy-winged sharpshooter has been found in Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Ventura, Orange, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Kern and Tulare counties. Morgan said the insect will likely be visible in the groves during the wasp release. The half-inch glassy-winged sharpshooter is considered a serious threat to the state's $2.8 billion wine, raisin and table grape industry.

Directions: From Interstate-15, take the Rancho California Road exit in Temecula. Travel west several miles, to the end of Rancho California Rd. Turn right on E. Benton Road. Approximately 200 yards ahead, on the right, is a new open-sided construction site set back behind several rows of citrus. Morgan will meet journalists there. [Sturdy shoes are recommended]

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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