Vineyard evaluation of five beneficial insect-attracting native plant ground covers as a strategy to improve and sustain IPM in wine grapes

Arthropod pest management in Washington wine grapes is low input and based on conservation biological control (CBC). Sustainability depends on maintenance of year-round populations of pest natural enemies (PNE) in and near vineyards. Restoration of native habitat, primarily plants upon which endemic natural enemies depend for resources, should help maintain and sustain PNE populations in grapes. We have recently identified a number of native plant species attractive to a variety of PNE, with potential as ground covers for enhancing and sustaining CBC in wine grape vineyards. This project will establish, evaluate and compare the potential of 5 native plant ground covers in improving and sustaining CBC. Information will also be obtained on the practicality and agronomy of using these native ground covers in vineyards as well as impacts (if any) on grape production and quality. This project addresses BIOAg and wine grape industry priority areas by being biologically intensive and enhancing environmental sustainability of wine grape production in eastern Washington.

Grant Information

  • Project ID: 122
  • Project Status: Complete




Conference Proceedings
Buckley, K., Seymour, L., Lauby, G. and James, D. (2014). Native habitat
restoration in wine grape vineyards as a pest management strategy.
Entomological Society of America Annual meeting, Portland, OR.
Buckley, K., Lauby, G., Seymour, L. and James, D.G. (2014). Native Habitat
Restoration: An IPM strategy for vineyards. Washington Association for Wine
Grape Growers Annual Meeting (Poster).

Book contribution
James, D.G. (2014). Pest management in Washington State vineyards: Case
study. Pp. 26-27 In Farming with Native Beneficial Insects: Ecological pest
control solutions. The Xerces Society Guide. Storey Publishing MA.

Scientific papers
James, D.G., Seymour, L.S., Lauby, G. and Buckley, K. (2014). Beneficial
insects attracted to native flowering buckwheats (Eriogonum Michx.) in central
Washington. Environmental Entomology 43: 942-948.
James, D. G., Seymour, L., Lauby, G. and Buckley, K. (2014). Beneficial insects
associated with stinging nettle (Urtica dioica Linnaeus) in central Washington
State. Pan-Pacific Entomologist 91: 1-9.
Olmstead, M. and D.G. James (2014). Cover-cropping in vineyards to manage
pest populations effectively. American Pomological Society (in Review).
James, D. G., Seymour, L., Lauby, G. and Buckley, K. (2014). Beauty with
benefits: Butterfly conservation in Washington State, USA, wine grape vineyards.
Journal of Insect Conservation 19: 341-348

Additional Funds Leveraged

Funds to continue monitoring the WSU-Prosser wine grape vineyard ground
cover trial are being sought from the Washington Association of Wine Grape
Growers and the Washington Nursery Association. The latter agreed to fund
continuation of this project from July 2015.


The short term impact of this project to the Washington wine grape industry is
identification of native, drought-adapted plants that will establish, grow and
survive well in vineyards, while serving as a resource and habitat for biological
control agents responsible for controlling grape pests like spider mites, rust
mites, leafhoppers, mealybugs and cutworms. Our selected native plants are
now established and are beginning to yield data on beneficial insect abundance
and impact and compatibility with grapevines over the next few years.
Currently, there are no commercially available, IPM-enhancing ground covers
that will survive in eastern Washington vineyards without regular irrigation. The
availability of one or more ground covers to fit this purpose will provide a
significant and welcome benefit to viticulture in this region. Adoption of a native
plant ground cover by wine grape growers is expected to be rapid (< 5 years)
given the benefits already being demonstrated and the expected ease of
cultivation and maintenance.
Long term benefits of resilient and hardy native ground covers on wine grape
IPM will be considerable in terms of sustaining biological-based pest control.
Substantial industry-wide decreases in pesticide inputs and environmental
contamination are expected a decade after implementation, along with increases
in farm profitability.