Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2010 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Expeditiously identify chemical attractants (e.g., pheromones and plant volatiles) for agriculturally important insect species (either pests or biocontrol agents for weed or insect pests) for which such knowledge is lacking or incomplete, determine the biological and environmental parameters for natural emission of the compounds, and synthesize or otherwise obtain them in quantities sufficient for field use. Characterize the behavioral responses toward the identified compounds under field conditions, with special consideration to the development of practical management tools.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Seek pheromones and host-plant related attractants for selected insect species. Species studied will include, but not be limited to, Diorhabda elongata (a biocontrol agent of saltcedar), Galerucella calmariensis (a biocontrol agent of purple loosestrife), and various flea beetle species (including vegetable crop pests and also biocontrol agents of leafy spurge). Collect volatiles from male and female insects and from host plants and analyze these by gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and electrophysiology (“electroantennograms”). Those compounds that are emitted by just one sex and that are detected with great sensitivity by the insect antennae are likely to be pheromone components. Similarly, host plant compounds with high antennal sensitivity are potential attractants. Identify the structures of these key compounds using mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, chemical tests, and other appropriate methods. Synthesize the compounds using the methods of organic chemistry or otherwise obtain them in bulk from botanical or other sources. Use techniques such as “sticky traps” or other trapping methods to evaluate the attractiveness of synthetic compounds under field conditions, relative to controls and also to live insects. Characterize the behavior toward the attractants under laboratory conditions, if possible. Develop the newly identified attractants as practical insect management tools, for monitoring or manipulating populations of the insects under consideration. For key pheromones, such as those of nitidulid beetles, develop new synthetic schemes suitable for commercial pheromone production.

3.Progress Report
This is the final report for the project 3620-22000-008-00D. The overall goals of this project were to identify chemical compounds that are attractive to pest and beneficial insects and to develop these attractive compounds into practical applications such as insect monitoring tools and environmentally friendly insect pest control strategies. Substantial results were realized over the 5 years of the project. The pheromones (natural sex attractants) and food attractants of several species of pest and beneficial insects were identified. These biological attractants are being used as tools for the detection and/or control of insects. Examples of identified pest insects attractants include those for nitidulid beetles (world wide pest of corn, figs dates, stone fruits), flea beetles (pest of canola and rapeseed), webworm (introduced defoliator of pines), lesser mealworm beetles (world wide poultry pest), and emerald ash borer (introduced pest of ash trees). Examples of identified beneficial insect attractants include those for purple loosestrife beetles (introduced biological control agents for invasive purple loosestrife plants), saltcedar beetles (introduced biological control agents for invasive saltcedar plants), flea beetles (introduced biological control agents for invasive leafy spurge plants), and parasitic wasps (natural enemies of house flies and biological control agents for the emerald ash borer). The impact of the research was that growers, land managers, State and Federal agencies, and fellow researchers have used these attractants to monitor the presence of either pest or beneficial insect. In addition, we have improved the chemical synthesis of several of these attractants and the insect trapping systems to lower the overall cost and increase the availability of the attractants. This has resulted in commercial products and collaborations with commercial partners. This project will be replaced by 3620-22000-009-00D.

1. Work has started on the development of an attractant for lesser mealworm beetle based on aggregation pheromone and additional poultry manure volatiles. Using a wind tunnel bioassay, scientists in the Crop Bioprotection Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Peoria, IL, are in the process of determining the essential behavioral components of the 5 component pheromone blend. In addition, these scientists synthesized the 5 components of the pheromone for field experiments to be performed in collaboration with their CRADA partner. Furthermore, beetle attractive poultry manure volatiles are being identified and tested in the wind tunnel behavioral assay. This information is useful for the development of an insect control strategy for the lesser mealworm beetle using attractants.

2. Attractants for parasitic wasps that are introduced natural enemies of the emerald ash borer. The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive beetle pest from Asia that is causing widespread mortality of ash trees in the U.S. and Canada. Three species of parasitic Hymenoptera originally reared from EAB in China have been released in the U.S. as possible biological EAB control agents. Scientists in the Crop Bioprotection Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Peoria, IL, have identified the pheromone of one of these parasitic wasps. This natural attractant could be used in monitoring systems to evaluate the establishment and spread of newly released populations of EAB biocontrol agents.

Review Publications
Staples, J.K., Bartelt, R.J., Cosse, A.A., Whitman, D.W. 2010. Sex Pheromone of the Pine False Webworm Acantholyda erythrocephala (Hymenoptera Pamphiliidae). Journal of Chemical Ecology. 35(12):1448-1460.

Petroski, R.J. 2008. Improved Preparation of Halopropyl Bridged Carboxylic Ortho Esters. Organic Communications. 1(3):46-53.

Last Modified: 1/28/2015
Footer Content Back to Top of Page