Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Discovery, Biology and Ecology of Natural Enemies of Insect Pests of Crop and Urban and Natural Ecosystems
2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Objective 1: Explore for natural enemies of insect pests (e.g., olive fruit fly, Lygus bugs), and wood borers (e.g., longhorned beetles and emerald ash borers) and other pests as identified as high priority targets by the ARS Office of National Programs.

• Sub-objective 1A - Discovery and collection of potential biological control agents for service to other laboratories that provide further development of the natural enemies. • Sub-objective 1B - Quantitative measurements and observations that lead to new documentation on biology of potential biological control agents and their hosts. • Sub-objective 1C - Genetic studies that enhance the chance of success with new biological control agents.

Objective 2: Identify, colonize and evaluate the most promising natural enemies and ship them to U.S. cooperators. Results of laboratory (including genetics and behavior) and field studies will be used to improve the ability to predict key factors for application to future programs.

• Sub-objective 2A – Identification, colonization, and evaluation of efficacy of biological control agents. • Sub-objective 2B – Documentation of life table parameters and biological characteristics. • Sub-objective 2C – Genetic parameters as predictors of successful biological control.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Biological control through the introduction of natural enemies continues to be one of the most effective, cheap, and environmentally safe solutions to problems created by introduced pests and invasive species. We propose to take advantage of the experienced staff, biologically strategic location, and excellent facilities of the European Biological Control Laboratory in Montpellier, France, and its satellite laboratory in Thessaloniki, Greece, to discover potential biological control agents, characterize them genetically, evaluate their efficacy, and describe relevant aspects of their bionomics. Scientific output from these efforts will include taxonomic, genetic, and biological descriptions of important species in the Palearctic and Ethiopian regions. The target species of these efforts will include the olive fruit fly, vine mealybug, the European grapevine moth, the diamondback moth, the olive psyllid, Lygus bugs, and Asian longhorned beetle. In addition, we will use model species (the southern green stink bug and the tarnished plant bug) to test the hypothesis that the success of parasitoid wasps as biological control agents can be predicted by examining genetic parameters.


3.Progress Report
We shipped lygus bug parasitoids collected in France to US cooperators; Moroccan parasitoids were mass reared for field release in DE, CA and NM by ARS and NJDA cooperators who reported evidence from sites in DE that establishment is occurring. We obtained samples for our project on retrospective genetic analysis of lygus biocontrol programs. We initiated research to improve methods of rearing olive fly parasitoids and planned new exploration in Africa and Asia for natural enemies and studies of their nutritional ecology. SCA 0212-22000-022-06T with the French INRA supported research on olive fly parasitoids. INRA assessed releases in France of an exotic olive fly parasitoid we obtained from Africa and examined biological differences in geographic strains of the wasp. This agent has been released by California and Israel cooperators. Evidence of establishment in CA was obtained this summer. We concluded a study with INRA to screen wasps for microbial associates that influence its biology, and began to develop molecular bar codes for a second genus of olive fly parasitoids which may include cryptic species. Barcoding will enable further evaluations of this genus as biocontrol agents. Our research was extended to Albania by a USAID grant supporting exchange of visits to improve fly biocontrol in Albania. Cooperative research in France and Italy on citrus and Asian longhorned beetles with Italian agency MINOPRIO (0212-22000-024-8T) determined the geographic distribution of a host-specific egg parasitoid of CLB in Northern Italy. We are working to develop a lab rearing technique for this parasitoid. US and Chinese colleagues helped us plan exploration for egg parasitoids of ALB in NE China and egg parasitoids of CLB in SE China during the coming year. We compared efficacy of several strains of a vine mealybug parasitoid obtained from foreign exploration. We showed the Israeli strain of the wasp, already introduced in CA, is more effective than a French strain. We collected a French population of a Russian wheat aphid parasitoid for a US cooperator. American Farm School MOU 0212-22000-023-11M provides our Greek substation with lab and office space, facilitating exploration and field work in the Balkan region. A new project (0212-22000-024-XX) involves DOD, university and Greek agencies in a monitoring program in northern Greece to determine the distribution of regional sand fly and mosquito populations and monitor West Nile virus. We provided first evidence of WNV enzootic activity in Greece and field tested a housefly kill device. MOU 0212-22000-023-12M with Benaki Phytopathology Institute (Athens) supports research on mutual-interest targets including studies of local strains of olive fly pathogens. MOU 0212-22000-022-07M with the Joint Genomic Center (Sophia University, Bulgaria) will facilitate exchange of ideas and cooperation in genomics; an ARS-JGC workshop is planned. We provided an entomopathogen strain for genome sequencing by Charles Sturt University (Australia) to enhance use of pathogens as locust biocontrol agents.We also barcoded genetic samples of French and Australian land snails for a CSIRO snail management project.


4.Accomplishments
1. Establishment of a new exotic olive fly natural enemy in California. Since the discovery of olive fruit fly in California a decade ago it has become the most important olive pest and threatens the economic viability of the U.S. olive industry. ARS EBCL conducted explorations for effective natural enemies of the fly in Africa and Asia. A number of agents obtained by EBCL have been evaluated by cooperators in California during the past several years, and several of these species have been permitted by APHIS for field release. This year, after several consecutive years of releases, surveys documented the establishment of one of these agents, the parasitic wasp PSYTTALIA LOUNSBURYI. This is the first successful establishment of an exotic natural enemy of olive fly from the fly’s native range in Africa into new regions where olive culture has spread. We anticipate that this parasitoid wasp will eventually cause significant reductions in olive fly populations as it spreads throughout California.

2. Monitoring program provides first evidence of West Nile Virus enzootic activity in Greece. The Department of Defense funds ARS to develop solutions to insect problems that result in illness among deployed military personnel. A joint ARS EBCL, DOD, University of Florida and local Greek civic agency program was launched to determine the spatial and temporal distribution of major regional sand fly and mosquito populations in northern Greece. This survey detected the first evidence of West Nile Virus enzootic activity in Greece prior to the onset of any human cases, and the government of Greece was notified to take timely precautions and implement mosquito control measures. This project provided evidence showing that the virus successfully overwintered in the region.


Review Publications
Argov, Y., Blanchet, A., Gazit, Y. 2011. Biological control of the Mediterranean fruit fly in Israel: biological parameters of imported parasitoid wasps. Biological Control. doi:10.1016/j.biocontrol.2011.07.009.

Cheyppe-Buchmann, S., Bon, M., Warot, S., Jones, W.A., Malausa, T., Fauvergue, X., Ris, N. 2011. Molecular characterization of Psyttalia lounsburyi,a candidate biocontrol agent of the olive fruit,and its Wolbachia symbionts as a pre-requisite for future intraspecic hybridization.. Biocontrol. DOI 10.1007/s10526-011-9346-x.

Desurmont, G.A., Herard, F., Agrawal, A.A. 2011. Oviposition strategy as a means of local adaptation to plant defence in native and invasive populations of the viburnum leaf beetle. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1294.

Hoelmer, K.A., Kirk, A., Pickett, C.H. 2011. Prospects for biological control of olive fruit fly, Bactrocera oleae (Diptera: Tephritidae) in California with introduced parasitoids. Biological Control. 21(9):1005-1025.

Rodriguez-Saona, C., Kaplan, I., Braasch, J., Chinnasamy, D., Williams Iii, L.H. 2011. Field responses of predaceous arthropods to methyl salicylate: a meta-analysis and case study in cranberries. Biological Control. 59: 294-303.

Last Modified: 11/23/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page