Pedro Hernandez, product development representative for Nichino America, has been awarded the Dean’s Medal from California State University-Fresno.

In addition, Hernandez has won the Award for Outstanding Thesis for the school’s College of Agriculture and Technology. The thesis is titled: Population Dynamics and Insecticidal Control of the Black Widow Spider in Table Grape Vineyards.

In his research, Hernandez determined that black widow spiders are present in vineyards year-round, but that they move into clusters only as harvesttime approaches. Therefore, that is the time to treat for them.

“Black widow spiders do not cause any direct damage to grapes – the damage is mostly cosmetic – but that can be a real problem in the export market,” explained Hernandez. “Table grape growers have a window of opportunity near harvest to treat for black widow spiders.”

Clusters are not a black widow spider’s preferred web-building site, explained Hernandez. “So even though they are in the vineyard year-round, the only damage occurs near harvest.”

Pyrethroids provide the best control of black widow spiders, according to Hernandez’ research. Carbamates and organophosphates also provide some control, he determined.

The Dean’s Award is the top academic honor awarded by each of the schools at CSU-Fresno. Each school awards both a graduate and undergraduate Dean’s Award. Hernandez is the 2006 graduate honoree for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.

Hernandez was hired on January 1, 2006, by Nichino America. He performs research and field trials for the company’s western region. This May, he received his master’s degree in plant science with an emphasis on entomology. His bachelor’s degree is also from CSU-Fresno and is in plant science, with an emphasis on crop protection.

“We are proud to see Pedro earn this award,” said David King, product development manager for Nichino America. “These awards confirm what is evident in working with Pedro: He is an outstanding individual! We’re pleased to have him on our team. This award, and others, are the result of our commitment to providing top-quality research and information for America’s farmers.”