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Destructive Agricultural Pest Subject of Conference Feb. 6-8 in San Diego

Destructive Agricultural Pest Subject of Conference Feb. 6-8 in San Diego

(January 25, 2000)

The silverleaf whitefly that has cost commercial agriculture nationwide an estimated $2 billion will be the subject of a conference of scientists, growers, pest control advisers and representatives of the agrichemical industry Sunday, Feb. 6 through Tuesday, Feb. 8, in San Diego.

Conference participants will share their latest research results and new methods of managing the silverleaf whitefly, which is well-established in states across the southern portion of the United States. Organized by a consortium of scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Agricultural Experiment Stations in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, the meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn on the Bay, 1355 N. Harbor Dr., San Diego.

Among the topics scientists will discuss are control of the insect using biorational agents and pesticides, options for managing crops to reduce whitefly infestations, and biological control.

The silverleaf whitefly was first reported in Southern California agriculture in late 1990. Desert valleys of Southern California, which support a year-round agricultural industry, have suffered the highest economic losses - about $100 million each year b etween 1991 and 1995 in the Imperial Valley of California. The pest has also caused extensive economic losses to susceptible crops in California's Central Valley, and in Texas, Florida and Mexico. While changes in farm practices and selective uses of pesticides have somewhat stemmed the infestation, the insect still causes serious economic losses.

Silverleaf whiteflies can reduce crop yields by sucking out plant nutrients and secreting a sticky honeydew that promotes the growth of fungus. Feeding whiteflies can cause squash silverleaf, a silvering symptom on vegetables, and tomato irregular ripening, where tomatoes have both ripe areas and green/yellow portions. The pest also transmits several serious virus diseases of commercial crops.

The conference begins at 1 p.m. on Feb. 6 and concludes at 5 p.m. on Feb. 8. Meeting coordinators include scientists from the University of California, Riverside and the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Reporters are invited to cover the conference free of charge, meals not included. Reporters may check in at the conference site by visiting the registration tables adjacent to the Pacific Ballroom at the Holiday Inn on the Bay. For more information or to receive an advance conference program, call Kathy Barton at (909) 787-2495 or send e-mail to

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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