1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Collaborate with ARS to: develop mass rearing methods for the arundo scale; conduct field releases; investigate the biology and host range of the arundo leafminer, evaluate the field impact of the biological control agents for Arundo donax, giant reed.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Mass rearing of the arundo scale will be conducted at greenhouses and field plots at the South Farm in Weslaco, TX that is jointly operated with the Texas A&M University – Kingsville, Citrus Center. Field releases will be conducted in coordination with the Dept. of Homeland Security at multiple locations on the Rio Grande including Del Rio, Laredo and Los Indios, TX. Research on the biology of the leafminer will be conducted at the containment facility operated by USDA-APHIS-PPQ-CPHST at Moore Airbase, Edinburg, TX. Evaluation of field impacts will include application remote sensing with spectroradiometry.
Arundo scales were imported from multiple locations in Mediterranean Europe for field release and to develop colonies for mass rearing. Student interns and UTPA technical staff helped process over 2.5 million scales for field release on the Rio Grande and at rearing facilities in Weslaco. Several studies to improve techniques to improve establishment of the scale were conducted by UTPA-NIFA-Hispanic Serving Institution student interns mentored by the cooperating investigator. These research studies included: investigation of ant predation of the arundo scale, effect of boron micronutrient on size and rate of growth of the arundo scale, mobility of crawler scale, use of radiospectrometry to detect impacts of arundo scale on A. donax. The student interns presented their findings at the Southwestern Branch meetings of the Entomological Society of America. One of the interns, a disabled Army veteran, received the first place award for her work on ant predation.