There are approximately 90,000 species of described insects in the U.S., and it is an inevitability that some of these will incorporate pongamia into their niche, whether it’s for food, shelter, or reproduction. Some of the insects will be detrimental, some beneficial, and some indifferent.
Once the presence of an insect is determined to fit one of the aforementioned categories, those that are deemed detrimental will have to be monitored and evaluated in a manner that coincides with a successful management plan. This management plan will include an assessment of to what degree any potential insect pest’s presence may harm the successful production of a crop. The specific levels or “thresholds” of numbers of a particular pest are then used to weigh the economies behind treatment or non treatment of a crop in terms of pesticide/application costs, and the effect the insecticide may have on beneficial insects.
Even just incidental surveying of pongamia fields in Texas and Florida has yielded a plethora of different insects that call pongamia home. None of Terviva’s planting sites have been severely decimated or affected by insect feeding on the trees, but it is still an ever-present concern that will need to be closely surveyed at both current and future planting sites in all the varied geographies that Terviva looks to establish pongamia. Below I have included some of the insects that I have captured with pictures, but this does not come close to representing the true diversity found out in the fields.
Keith Kutac is TerViva’s Operations Manager and provides technical support and advice for customer plantings while also actively managing 150 acres of pongamia trees along the Texas Gulf Coast. While Keith was attaining his B.S. in Biology from Texas A&M University, he worked at both the Texas A&M and USDA pecan orchards learning management techniques that are now being practically applied towards pongamia.