Cruciferous vegetables such as head cabbage, kale, bok choy, arugula, and broccoli are high-volume crops in Hawai‘i. They’re an important factor in our Islands’ food sustainability and essential ingredients in local recipes such as stir-fries and stews.
However, these vegetables are also the favorite food of the diamondback moth larva, which eats the leaves into lacy nets, making them inedible and unsalable. The moth ranks as one of the world’s worst pests of crucifers. Besides being voracious, it also has the ability to quickly develop insecticide-resistant genes, forcing growers to keep changing the insecticide protocols used to combat the pest. But what about trying to control it…without poisons?
Miho Maeda, an undergraduate student in CTAHR’s interdisciplinary Tropical Agriculture and Environment concentration, participated in a CTAHR Team Science project to explore that option. Her study, “Insecticide Resistance Management for Diamondback Moth in Organic Farms: Integrating Push-pull Cropping, Insect Behavior and Microbial Biocontrol,” was part of a directed research project with Plant and Environmental Sciences professor Koon-Hui Wang. Also working with CTAHR Extension agent Joshua Silva, Miho did the study at the Magoon Field Teaching plot, Kahumana Farm, and Owen Kaneshiro Farm in Wai‘anae. Her findings led to a YouTube video, “Non-chemical approaches to manage diamondback moth.”
Miho, who is graduating this spring, says, “I especially enjoy all the hands-on and outdoor learning experiences offered through the TAE program. After graduation, I’m looking forward to working as a lab technician with PEPS researcher Michael Melzer on more pest-management projects.”