SOUTH AMERICAN BIOLOGICAL CONTROL AGENTS TO SUPPRESS INVASIVE PESTS IN THE U.S.
Project Number: 0211-22000-006-00
Start Date: Nov 08, 2005
End Date: Nov 07, 2010
Research activity at SABCL is aligned with National Program 304, Crop Protection and Quarantine, whose central challenge is the economical and sustainable management of pests in the U.S. minimizing negative consequences to the environment. Accidental introductions of invasive pests into the U.S. from South America have increased as a result of the international trade. Invasive pests cause major ecological and economical losses and often reduce the quality and value of products, increase the cost of production, damage environmental areas and place native species at risk. In addition, they restrict U.S. products from access to valuable foreign markets. Classical biological control offers the possibility for permanent regional suppression of weeds and insect pests that are a threat to U.S. ecosystems.
The main objective at SABCL is, then, to develop beneficial organisms (insects, parasites, predators or diseases) of weed and insect pests to be used as biological control agents in the U.S.
The objective is accomplished by: 1- Field exploration to discover, identify, and characterize natural enemies of selected targets, 2- Risk assessment and usefulness of the candidate organisms, and 3- Collection, rearing, and shipment of selected control agents to appropriate cooperators in quarantine facilities in the U.S.
The research program at SABCL, Project Plan approved by the OSQR in 2005, includes the target weeds: Waterhyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum), and Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebenthifolius), and the target insects: imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta, S. richteri), glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis), tarnished plant bug (Lygus spp.) corn rootworms (Diabrotica spp.) and sunflower pests (Homoeosoma ellectelum and Zigogramma exclamationis). The projects on tropical soda apple, tarnished plant bug, sunflower pests and glassy-winged sharpshooter have been discontinued. Some other projects not originally included in the Project Plan have been added during the progress of the Plan: Brazilian water weed (Egeria densa), water primrose (Ludwigia hexapetala), water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and little fire ants (Wasmannia auropunctata). Investigations under subordinate projects are currently (2010) being conducted on fanwort, lippia, parkinsonia, cactus moth (Cactoblastis cactorum) and cactus mealybug (Hypogeococcus pungens).
The potential general impact of the work conducted at SABCL includes: Conservation of non-renewable resources by self-perpetuation of natural enemies; cost-effective suppression of target pests; decreased need for hazardous pesticides; improved quality of the environment; protection of natural ecosystems from invasive species, favoring biodiversity; sustainable production systems and land use; higher quality of food and fiber; higher protection of human health; enhanced scientific understanding needed for successful implementation of biological control programs and integrated pest management strategies.