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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICALLY BASED PEST MANAGEMENT FOR FIELD AND GREENHOUSE CROPS
2006 Annual Report


1.What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? Why does it matter?
Current arthropod pest control in our food and fiber crops is highly dependent on use of chemical pesticides. However, heavy reliance on this approach potentially harms human health and leads to pesticide resistance, elimination of natural enemies, pest resurgence, and appearance of secondary pests. These concerns, and the potential loss of certain classes of pesticides, accelerate the need for improvement of IPM programs, with particular attention to the use of biological control strategies. The conservation of indigenous natural enemies and knowledge of the ecology of new emerging pests/natural enemies are needed to enhance the contribution of biological control in IPM strategies especially in cotton.

Invasive exotic plant species and other noxious weeds pose a huge and increasing threat to agriculture and native ecosystems throughout North America. In our region, which includes the Rio Grande River watershed, invasive weeds degrade the riparian environment and consume water resources in an arid region impacted by recurrent drought. Arundo donax L. is one of the most serious and widespread invasive weeds in the watershed, and a biological control program is needed because available chemical and mechanical control methods are not applicable over such a large area. The introduction of natural enemies from the origin of the A. donax (Mediterranean Europe) could be an effective solution, but these agents must be rigorously evaluated for both safety and efficacy.

Lepidopteran pests of cotton, dominated by the beet armyworm, the Helicoverpa/Heliothis complex in the eastern U.S., and the pink bollworm in the western U.S., continue to pose a threat to cotton production throughout the cotton belt. The beet armyworm, in particular, was responsible for numerous crop losses in the 1990's and was often, but not entirely, associated with the boll weevil eradication program or other early season pesticide use. These outbreaks were typically attributed to decimation of natural enemy populations by pesticide applications. In spite of excellent documentation of the importance of generalist predators in preventing outbreaks of lepidopteran pests of cotton, we have little knowledge of the predators responsible for this control, particularly those that might be nocturnally active. The beet armyworm has proven difficult to control with conventional pesticides and is less susceptible to Bt cottons than other lepidopterans. Development of strategies for mitigating outbreaks of the beet armyworm or augmentation techniques for responding to outbreaks when they occur is needed. This is particularly true for the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) of Texas where the boll weevil eradication program will be implemented in the near future. Other lepidopterans continue to be pests and are a continuing concern in the conventional cotton refuges mandated by EPA where Bt cotton is grown. Additionally, the potential for lepidopteran pests to develop resistance to Bt cottons is a real concern, and alternative control strategies may prove critical should resistant strains develop.

Sucking pests are emerging as serious pests of cotton as a result of reduction or elimination of broadspectrum insecticides formerly targeted at boll weevil and the heliothine complex since the widespread adoption of Bt cotton and successful eradication of the boll weevil in the southeastern U.S. Sucking pests include stink bugs, Lygus spp., cotton fleahopper, and green cotton mirid, Creontiades sp. A similar scenario has emerged in Australia, where Creontiades dilutus has become a serious pest of cotton in the subtropical growing regions of eastern Australia. Applications of broadspectrum insecticides to control mirids in subtropical cotton growing areas of Australia and south Texas often causes disruptions of natural enemy complexes, particularly for silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia tabaci Biotype 'B'. Silverleaf whitefly outbreaks can be difficult to control and dispersal following cotton harvest can impact fall and winter vegetables. Effective natural enemies to control the sucking bug pests do not appear to be present in the cotton system but are present in the surrounding native vegetation. Conservation biological control has the potential to reduce populations of Creontiades sp. in cotton. Research is needed to integrate natural enemies into the subtropical agroecoystem to manage this emerging pest of cotton.

Cursorial spiders (e.g., Anyphaenidae, Clubionidae) are an important component of the nocturnal predator complex in cotton. Ingestion of extra-floral nectar increases these spiders' survivorship and activity levels. Studies will be made of their response to the scent of the extra-floral nectaries of cotton and of the effect of nectar ingestion on their searching behavior for prey and non-prey food. The overall objective is to develop a paradigm of the role of stimuli from non-prey food sources in cursorial spiders along with a better understanding of the learning and physiological state that affects these behaviors. A more detailed understanding of the foraging ecology of cursorial spiders may be used to devise management strategies that enhance and conserve these spiders' population levels through provisioning with extra-floral nectar in cropping systems.

Arundo donax L., giant reed, is an exotic and invasive weed of riparian habitats and irrigation canals in the southwestern U.S. In absence of herbivores, giant reed dominates these habitats, which leads to: losses of biodiversity; catastrophic stream bank erosion; damage to bridges due to stormwater blockage; and increased costs for chemical and mechanical control along irrigation canals. Most importantly, this invasive weed consumes water resources in an arid region where these resources are critical to the environment, agriculture, and urban areas. Classical biological control of giant reed may be the best option for long-term management of this weed. Herbivores from the native range of giant reed will be assessed for their potential as biological control agents.

This project contributes directly to National Program 304, Crop Protection and Quarantine. This project falls within Component II (Biology of Pests and Natural Enemies), Component III (Plant, Pest, and Natural Enemy Interactions and Ecology), Component V (Pest Control Technologies) and Component VI (Integrated Pest Management Systems and Areawide Suppression) and Objective 3 contributes to the Biological Control of Weeds research component.


2.List by year the currently approved milestones (indicators of research progress)
Year 1 (FY 2006)

1. Complete year 1 of Lepidoptera egg predation study in Georgia and Mississippi. 2. Complete year 1 of predation study during weevil eradication in Texas. 3. Initiate biological studies of spiders. 4. Complete studies on chemical cues of egg kairomones for spiders. 5. Develop and initiate behavioral assays to determine if nectar ingestion induces localized searching behavior. (Expanded milestone after recruitment of Chemical Ecologist) 6. Develop and initate behavioral assays to evaluate the effects of prey and non-prey food odors on spider searching behavior. (Expanded milestone after recruitment of Chemical Ecologist) 7. Develop and initiate behavioral assays to evalute the innate and conditioned responses of spiders to prey and non-prey food odors. (Expanded milestone after recruitment of Chemical Ecologist) 8. Initiate studies on localized searching of H. futilis 9. Initiate studies of prey range for three spiders. 10. Collect Creontiades for genetic studies. 11. Survey Australia for parasitoids and establish cultures in quarantine. 12. Survey Creontiades in wild host plants in Texas habitat. 13. Evaluate pest status of Creontiades. 14. Establish GWSS cultures; begin screening pesticides at different rates. 15. Establish spider cultures; begin screening pesticides at different rates. 16. Field test laboratory and commercially made varroa fungal strips in field experiment. 17. For GWSS, collect Pseudogibelia pathogen in Mississippi and ship to cooperators in CA. 18. Estimate area of giant reed infestation along the Rio Grande from Laredo to Del Rio. 19. Determine the optimum technique for the genetic studies of giant reed. 20. Select and establish field sites in France and Spain for natural enemies of giant reed. 21. Establish giant reed mesocosms in quarantine facility. 22. Develop optimal rearing methods for giant reed natural enemies.

Year 2 (FY 2007)

1. Complete year 1 of Lepidoptera egg predation study in Arizona and New Mexico. 2. Complete year 2 of predation study during weevil eradication in Texas. 3. Complete biological studies of spiders. 4. Conduct pilot studies on functional response of cursorial spiders. 5. Complete studies on chemical components of cues of C. inclusum 6. Evaluate innate and conditioned responses of spiders to odors associated with prey (i.e., moth eggs). (Expanded milestone after recruitment of Chemical Ecologist) 7. Evaluate the effect of nectar quality (mono- and disaccharide composition and concentration) on induction and intensity of localized searching behavior.(Expanded milestone after recruitment of Chemical Ecologist) 8. Evalute the innate and ocnditioned responses of spiders to the scent of cotton extra-floral nectaries (CEFN). (Expanded milestone after recruitment of Chemical Ecologist) 9. Develop techniques to collect and analyze volatile compounds emitted by CEFN.(Expanded milestone after recruitment of Chemical Ecologist) 10. Continue searching behavior of H. futilis 11 Continue studies of prey range for three nocturnal spiders 12. Continue collections of Creontiades for genetic studies. 13. Continue survey in Australia for Creontiades parasitoids. 14. Complete 2nd year of field study of Creontiades parasitoids in Texas. 15. Continue pest studies of Creontiades 16. Obtain exotic GWSS parasitoids; test new experimental chemistries. 17. Continue screening pesticides on key spider predators of Lepidoptera eggs. 18. Field test commercially produced varroa mite strips in Minnesota and California. 19. Assist cooperators in California by rearing pathogen of GWSS or conducting field trials. 20. Conduct remote sensing for giant reed on remainder of Rio Grande River and Pecos River. 21. Characterize the genetic diversity of the giant reed populations. 22. Continue field studies in Europe of giant reed natural enemies. 23. Release giant reed agents in quarantine mesocosms and evaluate impact 24. Develop optimal rearing methods for giant reed agents.

Year 3 (FY 2008) 1. Complete year 2 of Lepidoptera egg predation study in Georgia and Mississippi. 2. Complete year 3 of predation study during weevil eradication in Texas. 3. Analyze data and prepare manuscripts on spider biologies. 4. Initiate studies to evalute the effects of nectar ingestin on spider response (i.e., recognition and search intensity) to odors associated with prey (i.e., moth eggs). (Expanded milestone after recruitment of Chemical Ecologist) 5. Initate studies to evaluate the ability of spiders to associate nectary odor profile with nectar quality. (Expanded milestone after recruitment of Chemical Ecologist) 6. Initiate studies to determine if nutritional status (i.e., protein-deprived v. carbohydrate-deprived) of spiders influences their response to CEFN odor. (Expanded milestone after recruitment of Chemical Ecologist) 7. Initiate studies to determine spider response to individual volatile compounds isolated from CEFN. (Expanded milestone after recruitment of Chemical Ecologist) 8. Initiate functional response studies of H. futilis. 9. Complete searching studies of H. futilis 10. Complete prey range studies of three nocturnal spiders. 11. Complete Creontiades genetics study. 12. Conduct biological studies of Australian Creontiades parasitoids in quarantine. 13. Measure impact of Texas Creontiades parasitoids on native host plants. 14. Complete pest study of Creontiades. 15. Complete pesticide screening on GWSS parasitoids. Write and publish results 16. Complete pesticide screening on spiders. Write and publish results. 17. Field test commercially produced strip in field experiments in Minnesota and California. 18. Conduct remote sensing in Mexico. 19. Determine the origin of the invasive U.S. forms. 20. Continue field studies of giant reed natural enemies in Europe. 21. Continue quarantine studies on selected herbivore species to evaluate their impacts on key growth parameters of giant reed. 22. Develop optimal rearing methods for giant reed natural enemies.

Year 4 (FY 2009) 1. Complete year 2 of Lepidoptera egg predation study in Arizona and New Mexico. 2. Analyze data from prediation study and prepare data for manuscript 3. Analyze data and prepare manuscripts on spider biologies. 4. Continue studies to evalute the effects of nectar ingestion on response (i.e., recognition and search intensity) to odors associated with prey (i.e., moth eggs) in cursorial spiders. (Expanded milestone after recruitment of Chemical Ecologist) 5. Continue studies to evaluate the ability of spiders to associate nectary odor profile with nectar quality. (Expanded milestone after recruitment of Chemical Ecologist) 6. Complete studies on functional response studies of H. futilis and evaluate G. texana. 7. Analyze data and prepare manuscript on search behavior of H. futilis 8. Analyze data and prepare manuscript prey range studies of three nocturnal spiders. 9. Complete Creontiades genetics study. 10. Conduct biological studies of Australian Creontiades parasitoids in quarantine. 11. Measure impact of Texas Creontiades parasitoids on native host plants. 12. Complete pest study of Creontiades. 13. Complete pesticide screening on GWSS parasitoids. Write and publish results. 14. Complete pesticide screening on spiders. Write and publish results. 15. Field test commercially produced strip in field experiments in Minnesota and California. 16. Estimate the total area in the Rio Grande Basin infested with giant reed using remote sensing data. 17. Analyze data and prepare manuscript on origin of the invasive forms of giant reed. 18. Complete field studies of giant reed natural enemies in Europe and use data to prioritize agents for host range testing studies. 19. Complete quarantine mescocosm studies on selected herbivore species to evaluate their impacts on key growth parameters of giant reed. 20. Develop optimal rearing methods for giant reed natural enemies.

Year 5 (FY 2010) 1. Complete year 2 of Lepidoptera egg predation study in Georiga and Mississippi. 2. Complete year 3 of predation study during weevil eradication in Texas. 3. Analyze data and prepare manuscripts on spider biologies. 4. Initiate functional response studies of H. futilis. 5. Complete searching studies of H. futilis. 6. Complete prey range studies of three nocturnal spiders. 7. Complete Creontiades genetics study. 8. Conduct biological studies of Australian Creontiades parasitoids in quarantine. 9. Measure impact of TX Creontiades parasitoids on native host plants. 10. Complete pest study of Creontiades. 11. Complete pesticide screening on GWSS parasitoids. Write and publish results. 12. Complete pesticide screening on spiders. Write and publish results. 13. Field test commercially produced strip in field experiments in Minnesota and California. 14. Analyze data and prepare manuscript on origin of the invasive forms of giant reed. 15. Begin host range testing of agents that have been prioritized in pre-release impact studies. 16. Begin selection of release sites and optimal release strategies.


4a.List the single most significant research accomplishment during FY 2006.
Biological control program for Arundo donax has been initiated: Arundo donax, water-using weed, is a serious ecological threat to the Rio Grande River Basin. Scientists at the Beneficial Insects Research Unit have imported three biological control agents from Europe into USDA quarantine facilities in Texas for biological control of A. donax, (carrizo cane). These biological control agents are a shoot-feeding wasp, (Tetramesa romana), a cane-burrowing fly, (Cryptonevra spp.), and a rhirzome-infesting scale, (Rhizaspidiotus donacis). This program for biological control of an invasive weed has stimulated significant interest and support for the project from the International Boundary and Water Commission, Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Rio Grande Watermaster, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley Irrigation Districts, PRONATURA Mexico, and CONANP Mexico. This research contributes directly to NP 304, Crop Protection and Quarantine, and falls within Component II (Biology of Pests and Natural Enemies), Component III (Plant, Pest, and Natural Enemy Interactions and Ecology), Component V, Pest Control Technologies), and Component VI (Integrated Pest Management Systems and Areawide Suppression).


4b.List other significant research accomplishment(s), if any.
Discovery of a native egg parasitoid, Ittys. nr. ceresarum: It was discovered that an emerging Texas cotton pest, Creontiades sp., is not an exotic insect from Australia, but a closely related native insect. Morphological, biological, and molecular studies conducted by scientists in the Beneficial Insects Research Unit in collaboration with scientists in Australia, Canada, and the U.S. confirmed this conclusion. Field studies of this pest in South Texas cotton and nearby wild host plants (Suaeda spp., seepweeds) have led to the discovery of a native egg parasitoid, Ittys nr. ceresarum. Manipulation of this parasitoid in adjacent patches in wild host plants may have potential for suppression of Creontiades prior to emigration to cotton. This research contributes directly to National Program 304, Crop Protection and Quarantine, and falls within Component II (Biology of Pests and Natural Enemies), Component III (Plant, Pest, and Natural Enemy Interactions and Ecology), Component V (Pest Control Technologies) and Component VI (Integrated Pest Management Systems and Areawide Suppression).

Behavioral assay for cursorial spiders in cotton: Scientists in the Beneficial Insects Research Unit have developed a behavioral assay to evaluate the effects of nectar ingestion and exposure to nectar odors on the searching behavior of cursorial spiders. This methodology was used to demonstrate, for the first time, that nectar ingestion induces localized searching behavior in spiders, that cursorial spiders are innately attracted to nectar odors, and that spiders can be conditioned to respond to novel odors associated with non-prey food. This research contributes directly to National Program 304, Crop Protection and Quarantine, and falls within Component II (Biology of Pests and Natural Enemies), Component III (Plant, Pest, and Natural Enemy Interactions and Ecology), Component V (Pest Control Technologies) and Component VI (Integrated Pest Management Systems and Areawide Suppression).


4c.List significant activities that support special target populations.
None


4d.Progress report.
In support of CRIS objectives for biological control of Arundo donax, giant reed, two grant proposals were submitted to USDA-CSREES, NRI and the Texas Department of Transportation. The first proposal is entitled, Identifying the Causes of Giant Reed Invasion in the Rio Grande Basin and Quantifying Its Distribution, Density, and Economics Impact Using Remote Sensing. In this proposed research, we will investigate the distribution and economic impact of the exotic weed. The second proposal, Biological control of Arundo donax on Texas Highway Right-of-Ways, will seek support for collection, shipment, and quarantine evaluation of biologcal control agents from Europe.


5.Describe the major accomplishments to date and their predicted or actual impact.
All accomplishments made under this project are fully consistent with relevant milestones listed in the Project Plan, and with the relevant research components as defined in the National Program 304 Action Plan. Accomplishments under this project contribute to the achievement of ARS Strategic Plan Goal 3, Objective 2, Performance Measure 6, in that project accomplishments contribute substantially to attainment of the Agency FY 2007 to improve knowledge and understanding of the ecology, physiology, epidemiology, and molecular biology of emerging diseases and pests. This knowledge will be incorporated into pest risk assessments and management strategies to minimize chemical inputs and increase production.

Defining the actions of egg predators of the beet armyworm and other lepidopteran pests, particularly those predators that are nocturnal, and the effects of malathion on them, will contribute to the development of methods to enhance the Boll Weevil Eradication Program by minimizing secondary pest outbreaks. Delineating the ecology of the foliage wandering spiders, a major group of predators in south Texas cotton, will help determine their potential to be manipulated for biological control of crop pests.

A novel behavioral assay was developed to evaluate the effects of nectar ingestion and exposure to nectar odors on the searching behavior of cursorial spiders. This methodology was used to demonstrate, for the first time, that nectar ingestion induces localized searching behavior and that cursorial spiders are innately attracted to nectar odors. We also demonstrated, for the first time, that these spiders could be conditioned to respond to novel odors associated with non-prey food. Information from this study has enhanced our basic knowledge of the searching behavior of cursorial spiders. This information, in turn, can be applied to developing management techniques that enhance and conserve these spiders' population.

Three biological control agents for the invasive weed, Arundo donax, (giant reed/carrizo cane), will be imported from the native range in Europe and evaluated for release in North America. Novel pre-release impact studies will be conducted in quarantine facilities to determine which agent(s) are likely to have the greatest impact on the weed where it is invasive in Texas, California, and northern Mexico. These studies include evaluation of impact on plant biomass, water use, and plant architecture. Following these predictive studies, the agent(s) with the best potential for impact will be selected and undergo full host-range testing. Pending the results of these tests, a petition for release of these agents in North America, including Mexico, will be submitted to USDA-APHIS. This research project is linked with other Arundo research programs to determine its distribution and density using remote sensing, environmental impact, ecohydrology, molecular population genetics in the native and introduced range, and the economic impact on water supplies in the Rio Grande Basin.


6.What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end-user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products?
Biological control of Arundo donax will likely be transferred to stakeholders (International Boundary and Water Commission, Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Rio Grande Watermaster, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley Irrigation Districts, PRONATURA Mexico, CONANP Mexico) within 6 to 8 years. The first biological control agent could be permitted for release in 2010. However, significant interest in biological control of this invasive weed could result in increased resources that could accelerate the research. The constraints are that we do not know if we can rear the agents under artificial conditions in quarantine, and if the agents have a sufficiently narrow host range to warrant release in North America. We are confident the agents are narrowly specific, based on information from their native range in Europe, but no one to date has attempted to rear these species under laboratory conditions. Once the biological control agents have been established and they are successful, the impact will be long-term. Benefits would include: restoration of the riparian habitats of the Rio Grande Basin, increased water flows into reservoirs, reduced mechanical and chemical control along drainage ditches, irrigation canals, and highway right of ways, and reduction in risk for Department of Homeland Security agents working along infested reaches of the Rio Grande.


7.List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. (NOTE: List your peer reviewed publications below).
Coleman, R.J. 2005. Biology and ecology of Creontiades sp. TAMU-TAES-TAEX Entomology Science Conference, October 2005, College Station, Texas.

Coleman, R.J., Armstrong, J.S., Duggan, B., Setamou, M. 2006. Actual and simulated damage to cotton by a Creontiades plant bug in south Texas. Beltwide Cotton Conference, January 4-6, 2006, San Antonio, Texas.

Coleman, R.J. 2006. Creontiades plant bugs: Overview of biology with particular emphasis on non-cotton host plants. Southwestern Branch, Entomological Society of America, February 27 - March 1, 2006, Austin, Texas.

Goolsby, J.A., was contacted by U.S. Congressman, Henry Cuellar (TX) via Ms. Yolanda Jones (Congressional Aide), regarding biological control of Arundo donax, (carrizo cane). Arundo is interfering with border security operations along the Rio Grande River near Laredo, TX. (June 2006).

Goolsby, J.A., was contacted by Rio Grande Watermaster, Carlos Rubenstein, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regarding biological control of Arundo donax, giant reed, and its impact on water distribution on the Rio Grande River. J. Goolsby and J. Adamczyk met with TCEQ officials in Harlingen, TX, and presented information on biological control of A. donax.

Goolsby, J.A., was contacted by Dennis Markwardt, Texas Department of Transportation regarding biological control of Arundo donax on Texas highway right-a-ways. Made presentation regarding biological control methods for managing this invasive weed.

Goolsby, J.A., Garcia, R., III, Kirk, A., Jones, W., Everitt, J., Yang, C., Parker, P., Carruthers, R., Spencer,D., Pepper, A., Manhart, J., Tarin, D., Moore, G., Dudley, T., Sturdivant, A., Nibling, F. 2006. Arundo donax, giant reed; an invasive weed of the Rio Grande Basin, Arundo donax, carrizo grande; una maleza invasora del bolsón de Rió Bravo. (oral and poster presentation). Meetings with land managers from PRONATURA and CONANP to discuss arundo and saltcedar control, May 24-25, 2006, Cuatrociénegas, Coahuila, Mexico.

Goolsby, J.A. 2005. Biological control of Arundo donax, giant reed. Texas Invasive Plant Conference, November 17-18, 2005. Austin, Texas. [Abstract & Poster]. Available: http://www.texasinvasives.org/conference/conference.html

Greenstone, M.H., Pfannenstiel, R.S. 2005. Overview of the role of generalist predators in biological control. p. 438-440. In: Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Biological Control of Arthropods, September 12-16, 2005, Davos, Switzerland. USDA Forest Service, Morgantown, WV, FEHTET-2005-08, 734 p.


Review Publications
Makinson, J., Goolsby, J., Kirk, A., Meyerdirk, S. 2005. A new record and host association for the pigeonpea pod fly, Melanagromyza obtusa (Malloch)(Diptera: Agromyzidae), and notes on its parasitoids in the Northern Territory, Australia. Australian Entomologist. 32: 79-82

Goolsby, J., Debarro, P., Hoelmer, K.A., Kirk, A. 2005. Pre-release evaluation of biological control agents for silverleaf whitefly with recommendations for other countries considering release. International Symposium on Biological Control of Arthropods, September 10-14, 2005, Davos, Switzerland. p. 144-151.

Pfannenstiel, R.S. 2005. Nocturnal predators and their impact on lepidopteran eggs in annual crops: What we don't see does help us. In: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Biological Control of Arthropods, September 12-16, 2005, Davos, Switzerland. p. 463-471.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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