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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research Unit

2009 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Develop techniques and strategies that utilize molecular gene transfer methods to create transgenic strains of Diptera, Lepidoptera, and Coleoptera that will facilitate genetic-sexing or have novel autocidal properties for use in IPM programs. Identify strains of Lepidoptera pests, describe differences in behaviors, and isolate the genetic factors controlling these differences in order to understand how species adapt to new ecological niches and to better target biologically-based control strategies in area-wide IPM programs. Describe acoustic and other signals and cues produced by pest arthropods, including Mediterranean fruit fly, Diaprepes root weevil and other cryptic/hidden insects, and develop detection technologies and attractive devices that can be used in IPM projects to target, monitor and control pests. Develop strategies for effective use of parasitoids and predators in IPM of Lepidoptera and tephritid fruit fly pests, such as Mediterranean fruit fly, potentially invasive species of Anastrepha fruit flies and fall armyworm, through behavioral and ecological studies of their feeding, mating, dispersal and oviposition.Identify, isolate, and characterize biochemical factors from prey, or from cell lines derived from prey, that stimulate development, determine their physiological and molecular effects, and use these factors to improve artificial diets for mass-reared predators. .
2)Measure the effects of optimal and suboptimal diets, including essential and alternative prey and artificial diets, on reproductions and predatory efficiency in laboratory and field-cage studies. Identify, isolate, and characterize biochemical factors from prey, or from cell lines derived from prey, that stimulate development, determine their physiological and molecular effects, and use these factors to improve artificial diets for mass-reared predators. Measure the effects of optimal and suboptimal diets, including essential and alternative prey and artificial diets, on reproductions and predatory efficiency in laboratory and field-cage studies.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Emphasis will be placed on.
1)Using recombinant DNA constructs inserted into the piggyBac transformation vector to genetically transform strains of the fruit flies and moth ;.
2)Developing a means of generating somatic transformations to test the phenotypes and efficiencies of foreign gene constructs that lead to genetic control of pest insects;.
3)Assessing the potential for vector re-mobilization in released transgenic strains and developing new vectors that allow increased stability and targeted integration for greater efficacy and ecological safety;.
4)Defining the seasonal distributions of genetically distinct subpopulations of fall armyworm in order to investigate strain-specific behaviors related to plant host usage, migration, and mating;.
5)Identifying hidden/cryptic pests through acoustic and microwave radar technology and precisely targeting control measures to limited areas where they will be most effective;.
6)Developing economical all-female strains of fruit fly parasitoids for mass-rearing and augmentative release through sex ratio distorting microbial endosymbionts; and.
7)Determining how fruit fly and moth parasitoids differ in their abilities to locate hosts at varying densities, and display different propensities to disperse from areas with relatively low host-encounter rates. BSL-1, April 2005.

Research is needed to enhance biological control of insects and mites through improved methods for rearing and deploying arthropod predators. The impact of predators can be increased through discovery of essential nutritional factors from prey or hosts that increase reproductive efficiency. Following bioassay-guided isolation and characterization, these factors will be employed as additives for artificial diets. Biochemical assays of contents of these factors in prey will also allow estimates of prey quality as food for predators. Biochemical and behavioral analyses of predators will produce estimates of fitness in insectary and field. Correlations of predator fitness with species and abundance of prey in field-cages will yield knowledge of the quality of prey as food and the quality of predators introduced into cages after rearing on selected diets in the laboratory. Predatory efficiency of generalists such as Orius insidiosus, Podisus maculiventris, and Geocoris punctipes will be assessed through predation rates and selection of prey. Their reproductive potential will be assessed as egg load. General fitness of the predators will be measured through quantitative and qualitative analyses of lipids and proteins. Results will yield commercial additives for artificial diets for predators, biochemical markers for assessment of insect quality, and tools for improved management of existing and introduced populations of predators and pest populations in the field and greenhouse.

3.Progress Report
Research advanced the creation of genetic modifications that can induce fruit fly male sterility for Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) programs, but which do not require debilitating irradiation of released males. Technology for inducing new genetic combinations through viruses was transferred to a number of other laboratories, and a new means of adding genes to the body of an insect has been developed. In collaboration with APHIS, a genetic marker that identifies a fruit fly as mass-reared and sterile was found to be stable in a number of trap types. Such experiments will lead to the effective field release of genetically modified control agents. The migrations of the fall army worm were described in finer detail and target areas for their area-wide management have been identified. Work continues on applying biological control to these “hot-spots”. New evidence of “strain-hybridization” in fall army worm will improve models that predict migration and infestation levels. Chemical attractants are not useful in some situations where pests are hidden and immobile, such as when they infest, grain or wood, but their presence can still be discovered through the sounds they make as they feed. Acoustic pest identification techniques continue to be applied domestically and overseas in Australia and Guam. Fruit fly parasitoid host-based oviposition stimulants were identified which could improve production in mass-rearing facilities. Conservation biological control is enhanced by providing food and shelter for natural enemies and continuing surveys have demonstrated that certain plants provide food and alternative hosts for both insect predators and parasitoids. Establishment of a West Indian fruit fly parasitoid in the Dominican Republic was confirmed by USDA-APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service), where their suppression will limit the likelihood of their spread to the USA.

1. New genes for lethality in fruit flies. Mass releases of sterile males are a widely used means to control pest fruit flies, but the radiation that sterilizes males often damages their sexual performance as well. Conditional-Lethality, where a released insect’s offspring die when certain environmental conditions prevail, is a promising substitute for traditional sterility. Several new genes critical for conditional embryonic lethality have been discovered in the Mexican and Caribbean fruit flies and these could ultimately improve the efficacy of control programs that protect U.S. agriculture from not only fruit flies but also other potentially invasive pests.

2. Source of fall army worm infestations discovered. Fall armyworm, infestations in most of North America arise from annual migrations of populations that overwinter in southern Texas and Florida. It was demonstrated that fall armyworm infestations in central Pennsylvania originate from Texas, indicating a migratory pathway from Texas to the northeastern United States. Understanding the pattern of population movements is critical to efforts to control and predict infestations by migratory pests. Such knowledge makes possible a direct assessment of how conditions at the source location can influence the timing and severity of subsequent infestations and facilitate the testing of aerobiological models designed to predict migratory movements.

3. Application of acoustic technology as an pest management tool. Many invasive and established pests live in conditions that make them difficult to locate such as in wood or underground. New analyses of temporal patterns of feeding sounds were developed that help distinguish feeding sounds made by wood infesting beetles. Acoustic methods were developed to detect a newly invasive pest beetle in Guam and are now in use as a detection method for eradication of the coconut rhinoceros beetle. Use of this method will enable faster inspection of palm trees and reduce the numbers of trees that might be cut unnecessarily.

4. Attractants to monitor mass-released natural enemies. Pest fruit flies populations can be suppressed by mass-rearing and releasing parasitoids. However, because there are no effective attractants available it has been difficult to monitor the dispersal and survival of these insects. Experiments with fruit infested with fly larvae and flowers that serve as adult food sources have identified chemicals that attract females of an important natural enemy and stimulate egg-laying as well. Such compounds will serve as the basis for trapping systems and improve production in mass-rearing facilities, both of which will help protect US agriculture from potentially invasive pests.

6.Technology Transfer

Number of the New/Active MTAs (providing only)2
Number of Other Technology Transfer15

Review Publications
Mena-Correa, J., Sivinski, J.M., Gates, M.W., Ramirez-Romero, R., Aluja, M. 2008. Biology of Eurytoma sivinskii, an unusual eurytomid (Hymenoptera) parasitoid of fruit fly (Diptera: Tephritidae) pupae. Florida Entomologist. 91(4):598-603.

Copeland, C.S., Matthews, R.W., Gonzalez, J.M., Aluja, M., Sivinski, J.M. 2008. Wolbachia in Two Populations of Melittobia digitata Dahms (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae). Neotropical Entomology. 37(6):633-640.

Pereira, R., Sivinski, J.M., Teal, P.E. 2009. Influence of methoprene and dietary protein on male Anastrepha suspensa (Diptera: Tephritidae) mating aggregations. Journal of Insect Physiology. 55(4):328-335.

Handler, A.M., Allen, M.L., Skoda, S.R. 2009. Development and utilization of transgenic New World screwworm, Cochliomyia hominivorax. Medical and Veterinary Entomology. 23(s1):98-105.

Nagoshi, R.N., Armstrong, J.S., Silvie, P., Meagher Jr, R.L. 2008. Structure and distribution of a strain-biased tandem repeat element in fall armyworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) populations in Florida, Texas, and Brazil. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 101:1112-1120.

Aluja, M., Perez-Staples, D., Sivinski, J.M., Sanchez, A., Pinero, J. 2008. Effects of male condition on fitness in two tropical tephritid flies with contrasting life histories. Journal of Animal Behavior. 76(6):1997-2009.

Aluja, M., Rull, J., Perez-Staples, D., Diaz-Fleischer, F., Sivinski, J.M. 2009. Random mating among Anastrepha ludens (Diptera: Tephritidae) adults of geographically distant and ecologically distinct populations in Mexico. Bulletin of Entomological Research. 99:207-214.

Rohrig, E.A., Sivinski, J.M., Wharton, R. 2008. Comparison of parasitic hymenoptera captured in malaise traps baited with two flowering plants Lobularia maritima (Brassicales: Brassicaceae) and Spermacoce verticillate (Gentianales:Rubiaceae). Florida Entomologist. 91(4):621-627.

Hay-Roe, M.M. 2008. Races of Heliconius erato (Nymphalidae: Heliconiinae) found on different sides of the Andes show wing size differences. Florida Entomologist. 91:711-712.

Mankin, R.W., Machan, R., Jones, R. 2006. Field testing of a prototype acoustic device for detection of Mediterranean fruit flies flying into a trap. In: Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Fruit Flies of Economic Importance, September 10-15, 2006, Salvador, Brazil. p 165-169.

Aluja, M., Ordano, M., Teal, P.E., Sivinski, J.M., Garcia-Medel, D., Anzures-Dadda, A. 2009. Larval feeding substrate and species significantly influence the effect of juvenile hormone analog on sexual development/performance in four tropical tephritid flies. Journal of Insect Physiology. 55:231-242.

Rull, J., Wharton, R., Feder, J., Guillen, L., Sivinski, J.M., Forbes, A., Aluja, M. 2009. Latitudinal variation in parasitoid guild composition and parasitism rates of North America Hawthorn infesting Rhagoletis. Environmental Entomology. 38:588-599.

Mankin, R.W., Moore, A., Samson, P.R., Chandler, K.J. 2009. Acoustic characteristics of Dynastid beetle stridulations. Florida Entomologist. 92:124-133.

Aluja, M., Sivinski, J.M., Ovruski, S., Guillen, L., Lopez, M., Cancino, J., Torres-Anaya, A., Gallegos-Chan, G., Ruiz, L. 2009. Colonization and domestication of seven species of native New World hymenopterous larval-prepupal and pupal fruit fly (Diptera: Tephritidae) parasitoids. Biocontrol Science and Technology. 19:49-80.

Cancino, J., Ruiz, L., Sivinski, J.M., Galvez, F.O., Aluja, M. 2009. Rearing of five hymenopterous larval-prepupal (Braconidae,Figitidae) and three pupal (Diapriidae,Chalcidoidea,Eurytomidae)native parasitoids of the genus Anastrepha(Diptera:Tephritidae) on irradiated A.ludens larvae and pupae. Biocontrol Science and Technology. 19:193-209.

Nagoshi, R.N., Meagher Jr, R.L. 2008. Review of fall armyworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) genetic complexity and migration. Florida Entomologist. 91(4):546-554.

Nagoshi, R.N. 2009. Can the amount of corn acreage predict fall armyworm infestation levels in nearby cotton? Journal of Economic Entomology. 102(1):210-218.

Meagher Jr, R.L., Brambila, J., Hung, E. 2008. Monitoring for exotic Spodoptera species (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in Florida. Florida Entomologist. 91:517-522.

Stuhl, C.J., Meagher Jr, R.L., Nagoshi, R.N. 2008. Genetic variation in neonate behavior of fall armyworm (Lepidoptera:Noctuidae). Florida Entomologist. 91(2):151-158.

Atkinson, P.W., Handler, A.M. 2006. Can the technical issues related to risk assessment of transgenic arthropods be solved? International Atomic Energy Agency-TEC-DOC 1483:57-68.

Shapiro, J.P., Shirk, P.D., Reitz, S.R., Koenig, R. 2009. Sympatry of Orius insidiosus and O. pumilio (Hemiptera: Anthocoridae) in North Central Florida. Florida Entomologist. 92:362-366.

Mankin, R.W., Johnson, S.N., Grinev, D.V., Gregory, P.J. 2008. New experimental techniques for studying root herbivores. In: Johnson, S.N., Murray, P.J. editorss. Root Feeders: an ecosystem perspective. Oxon, UK: CABI. p.20-32.

Shirk, P.D. 2008. Vitellogenesis. In: Capinera, John L., editor. Encyclopedia of Entomology. 2nd edition. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer. p. 93-97.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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