Douglas G. Luster
USDA, ARS, BIRL
501 SOUTH CHAPEL STREET
Newark DE 19713-3814
Directions (external link to Google Maps) (Location is Louis A. Stearns Laboratory. Building is light beige color, viewable from Route 72.)
Our mission is to import, quarantine, test, ship, release and establish exotic natural enemies (parasites and predators) of insect pests, using classical biological control approaches, and to investigate, model, and predict the interactions of pest and beneficial species. The laboratory's efforts have traditionally been directed against insect pests of foreign origin. After receiving natural enemies from the native home of the invading species, the beneficials are colonized in the United States to control the pest. Once established, these natural enemies are self-perpetuating and operate without further cost. The Laboratory also houses a quarantine facility where beneficial organisms from abroad are received and processed to detect and eliminate undesirable secondary parasites. Once cleared from quarantine, the beneficial species are either liberated locally or shipped. The alfalfa weevil, once the most severe pest of alfalfa in the U.S., is now controlled by several introduced parasites in the 20 NE States, for yearly savings of $88 million in control costs. The alfalfa blotch leafminer was controlled by parasites introduced from Europe soon after the pest spread outside its New England entry port, preventing yield losses worth $15 million per year.