Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2010 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The three general objectives of this project are: (1) to conduct systematic studies on plant pests (including invasive species)and beneficial insect groups of importance to U.S. agriculture; (2) to develop electronic resources to enhance technology transfer of research products via the web; and (3) to provide expert identification and curatorial services. Specific groups to be examined include leafroller moths (Tortricidae), cutworm moths (Noctuidae), snout moths (Crambidae), true bugs (Miridae), and leafhoppers (Cicadellidae). Knowledge of their classification and relationships is essential for accurate identification, for assessing host specificity for potential biological control agents, and for developing hypotheses of which species have the greatest likelihood of invading and establishing within the U.S. The project will supply authoritative identifications to action agencies and other customers and curatorial care for the National Insect Collection.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
The proposed research uses morphological, biological, biogeographical, and molecular data to classify and characterize difficult groups that are considered either pests (owing to their plant-feeding habit or ability to vector plant pathogens) or beneficials (owing to their predatory habits or their selective herbivory on noxious weeds). To capture data we will use a combination of light and scanning electron microscopy, computer aided character analysis and phylogeny estimation, molecular characterization of mitochondrial and nuclear genes, and digital imaging and photography. Specimens for analysis will be acquired from a variety of sources including exploration and field work and borrowing material from other major institutions, and will be accomplished through cooperation with colleagues and collaborators worldwide. The research products will be incorporated into web-based tools for the broadest dissemination of the information.

3.Progress Report
A draft manuscript was completed on the North American members of the noctuid genus Schinia in the subfamily Heliothinae, which includes 85% of the species in this subfamily. Draft diagnoses and descriptions of 10 genera of North American Cochylini were prepared, along with an introduction, a key to the genera, and synopses of several species, all of which form the foundation of a monograph on the group. Type specimens or series of 27 North American Herpetogramma species names were located, mostly in European museums, verified, and dissected. A checklist and a key to nine North American species were compiled, along with photographs of the adults. Research on the morphology and species delineation of Diatraea, including study of type specimens was completed. A draft manuscript is in preparation. A draft manuscript on the New World Isometopinae was completed, including illustrations; keys to subfamilies, tribes, genera, and species; diagnoses and descriptions of genera and most species; a literature review; and color dorsal photographs of all known species. A draft manuscript detailing a phylogenetic analysis of genera of Ceratocapsini was completed, including seven genera, four of which are new to science, and treating 47 species, 27 of which are new to science. Includes introduction, keys to genera, diagnoses and descriptions of genera, keys to species, and descriptions of about 75% of the treated species; scanning electron microcopy for one representative of each genus; seven color plates containing 84 adult habitus figures; and final illustrations of all male genitalia. Although substantial progress on the Acrogonia revision has been made, a Brazilian researcher intends to revise the same genus so specimens of key species from Brazil have not been available. Research time shifted to Haplaxius (Cixiidae) pests in the Dominican Republic and an illustrative identification guide to sharpshooter leafhoppers, which include many known pests. An electronic version of the food-plant database of leaf-roller moths, along with introduction and supporting literature, was made available on-line at asp. A searchable database of all treehoppers has been completed, with images of almost 3,000 species. However, due to insufficient IT support the database has not yet been posted on-line. A database of the type specimens of microlepidoptera in the National Museum of Natural History was completed. The database for Tortricidae has been vetted and translated to EMu for posting on the web, along with digital images of the 1,100 type specimens of the family. Databases for other families currently are being vetting by IT personnel at the Smithsonian Institution. Expert identifications of submitted insects were provided for customers and stakeholders, including hundreds of URGENT (same day) identifications and thousands of routine identifications. Portions of the National Insect Collection assigned to the SYs in the project were maintained and enhanced.

1. Completed research on seven North American species of Herpetogramma which includes the southern beet webworm and the tropical sod webworm. In 2006 beet production had a U.S. value of $1.5 billion and sod webworms feed on St. Augustine grass, a widely used lawn grass along the Gulf Coast in the U.S., and can cause damage when infestations are heavy. Type specimens or type series of 27 North American Herpetogramma species names were located, mostly in European museums, verified, dissected if necessary. One new synonym, 15 lectotypes and 14 paralectotypes are designated to fix the identity of the species described. A key to nine North American species was created with photographs of the adults so native species can be separated from new and/or potentially invasive species.

2. Completed book on the plant bugs, or Miridae, of Cuba. This taxonomic review treats 105 species in 57 genera. Twelve new species are described, two new synonyms are recognized, and four previously recorded species are removed from the list. All genera and species are diagnosed, and a thorough literature review and information on host plants and distribution are given. Male genitalia are illustrated and a color images are provided for nearly all species, identification keys to subfamilies, tribes, genera, and species are included, and the biogeography of the Cuban and West Indian mirid fauna is discussed. Because true bugs include many serious pests of agricultural importance, this information will benefit all who are interested in their taxonomy and systematics, control, ecology, life history, pest exclusion, and pest management including horticulturists, quarantine specialists, extension agents, and state and university researchers.

3. Completed research and published results of 52 species of Hadeninae, 5 species of Acontiinae, and 9 species of Eustrotiinae of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These publications will aid the staff and visitors of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to identify moths in these subfamilies. These publications partially fulfill the goal of Discover Life in America to completely document all life that occurs in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Staff can use these publications to aid them in management of various resources in the Park including habitat use, potential deforestation, and biodiversity issues.

4. Continued collaboration with scientists in Australia in Mexico to complete research and finalize a manuscript for publication detailing the biology, geographic distribution, and host specificity of seven species of tortricid moths reared from the weedy Parkinsonia aculeata (Fabaceae), a plant native to North and Central America that has become an economically important invasive weed in Australia. The paper included a molecular analysis of one of the species with high potential as a biological control agent against this weed.

Review Publications
Brown, J.W. 2009. The discovery of Megalota in the Neotropics, with a review of the New World species (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae: Olethreutini). Zootaxa. 2278:1-50.

Dombroskie, J.J., Brown, J.W. 2009. A new species of Clepsis Guenee, 1845 (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) from the Sky Islands of southeastern Arizona. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 111:769-774.

Rota, J., Yang, A., Brown, J.W. 2009. Variation in the female Frenulum in Tortricidae (Lepidoptera). Part 2. Olethreutinae. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 111:826-866.

Henry, T.J., Dellape, P.M. 2009. A new genus and species of Oxycarenidae (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Lygaeoidea) from Argentina. Zoo Keys. 25:49-59.

Dellape, P.M., Henry, T.J. 2010. Acrolophyses, a new seed bug genus and two new species (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Rhyparochromidae: Myodochini) from forest-canopy fogging in Ecuador and Peru. Insect Systematics & Evolution. 41:75-89.

Henry, T.J. 2009. A new species of conifer-inhabiting plant bug from Virginia belonging to the Phytocoris junceus group (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Miridae), with one new synonym. Special Publications of the Virginia Museum of Natural History. 16:287-293.

Rota, J., Brown, J.W. 2009. A new genus and species of Grapholitini (Lepidoptera: Tortrticidae) from Florida, U.S.A. 23:39-46.

Razowski, J., Brown, J.W. 2009. Records of Tortricidae from the Afrotropical region, with descriptions of new taxa (Lepidoptera). SHILAP Revista de Lepidopterologia. 37:371-384.

Brown, J.W., Epstein, M., Gilligan, T., Passoa, S., Powell, J. 2010. Collecting at night at the old porch light: Discovery of the light brown apple moth, Epiphyas postvittana (Walker) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae), in North America. American Entomologist. 56(1):34-43.

Brown, J.W., Hoddle, M.S. 2010. A new species of Histura Razowski (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae: Polyorthini) from Guatemala attacking avocados (Persea americana) Lauraceae. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 112(1):10-21.

Hernandez, L.M., Henry, T.J. 2010. The Plant Bugs, or Miridae (Hemiptera: Heteroptera), of Cuba. Book Chapter. 212:2010.

Pogue, M.G. 2010. The Hadeninae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, U.S.A.. Zootaxa. 2380:1-75.

Mitter, C., Regier, J., Davis, D., Brown, J.W., Solis, M.A. 2009. Toward reconstructing the hyper-diverse radiation of ditrysian Lepidoptera (Insecta): initial evidence from 123 exemplars and 5 protein-coding nuclear genes. BioMed Central Biology. 9:280.

Last Modified: 1/25/2015
Footer Content Back to Top of Page