Location: Beneficial Insects Introduction Research
Project Number: 8010-22000-026-00
Start Date: Dec 08, 2010
End Date: Jul 01, 2015
Classical (importation) biological control is a pest management technology that is environmentally safe and sustainable. This project focuses on discovery, evaluation, and establishment of classical biological control agents of selected agricultural pests in the U.S. Previous research continued into this project addresses as targets mirid plant bugs, soybean aphid, and brown marmorated stink bug; and a fourth target, spotted wing drosophila, has been added for evaluation of its biological control potential. New targets may be added at any time according to national need. To address objective (1) we will conduct foreign exploration in Asia and other regions as needed to discover, identify and evaluate the biology, ecology, and efficacy of exotic predators and parasitoids as classical biological control agents of the targeted pests. Agents discovered in exploration will be returned to our laboratory and identified using the best available morphological characters in conjunction with molecular sequence data, and evaluated in our quarantine facility for efficacy by measuring attack rates, reproductive output and development rates, and for host specificity by testing both close relatives to target hosts and progressively more distantly related species under choice and no-choice conditions. Objective (2) will address the role of environmental factors such as climate and photoperiod or inherent genetic variability in determining establishment success. Using a parasitoid of tarnished plant bug that established in some regions of the U.S., but not others as the model subject, we will characterize the genetic variability of populations established in the U.S. and their relation to genetic source populations in Europe. Also using lygus parasitoids, we will test the influence of differing environmental factors such as temperature, soil moisture and photoperiod regimes on parasitoid survival in environmental growth chambers and comparative field exposures. To address objective (3) we will prepare petitions for field release of qualified candidate agents of all target pests determined to be both effective and safe, based on satisfactory results of evaluation studies. These will be submitted to technical advisory panels and APHIS, in collaboration with relevant project partners as necessary. Supplemental research will be conducted to provide additional information if requested by APHIS. Once permits are received we will participate with cooperators as needed in conducting releases and post-release monitoring of the natural enemies. Where possible the releases will be designed to compare different geographic populations or genetic accessions of the agent for differences in climate adaptation, efficacy or other behavioral characteristics.