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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Sterile Insect Control of Invasive Pests, with a Focus on Moths

Location: Crop Protection and Management Research

Project Number: 6048-22000-042-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Apr 21, 2011
End Date: Mar 31, 2016

Objective:
1. Improve performance of the sterile insect technique (SIT) as an integrated control tactic against invasive and established lepidopteran pests by developing techniques that accurately measure field performance of released sterile moths and evaluating various laboratory and semi-field bioassays for their ability to predict field performance of sterile moths. 2. Advance the ability to integrate and monitor SIT in abatement/eradication programs against exotic/invasive Lepidoptera pests by developing methods and techniques to survey for the presence and density of both genders of target pest species, and to measure overflooding ratios and interaction of released sterile insects and wild insects; improving trapping and survey technology by developing calibrations that accurately predict pest population densities, trap efficiency, and efficacy of early detection programs for exotic pests; and, evaluating various marking techniques for identifying irradiated, released, and sterile moths and their interaction with the wild population, and measuring invasive pest movement and dispersal. 3. Increase our understanding of factors that affect insect pest invasiveness and establishment by examining and comparing mortality factors and host plant assemblages present in the insect pests’ native geographical range with the mortality factors and host plant assemblages present in the adventive geographical range and studying the ecology of invasive Lepidoptera pests to understand the role of voltinism, multiple strain introductions, flight propensity and capacity, and strain interaction with respect to dispersal and invasiveness.

Approach:
We will conduct laboratory, greenhouse, and field research to improve the performance of the SIT as an integrated control tactic against invasive and established lepidopteran pests, advance the ability to integrate and monitor SIT in abatement/eradication programs against exotic/invasive Lepidoptera pests, and Increase our understanding of factors that affect insect pest invasiveness and establishment. This research, which emphasizes collaboration with State, Federal, and international cooperators, will result in improved management strategies for invasive insect pests that threaten U.S. agricultural and horticultural crops and natural ecosystems. Invasive alien species are constantly threatening the abundant plant resources and the plant-based industries of the United States. Many of the most serious insect pests in the U.S. are introduced Lepidopterans. Action Agencies like the USDA-APHIS need pest control options and technologies such as the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) that are effective, environmentally-benign, and socially-acceptable in order to provide a rapid response to newly invasive lepidopteran species in agricultural, urban and environmentally-sensitive areas. The SIT has been a useful tactic for combating lepidopteran pest species; however, implementing the SIT against an invasive species requires a high level of organization, substantial funding, and a considerable knowledge of the biology and ecology of the invasive pest. Improved knowledge, control tactics, technologies, strategies and assays are needed to reduce the costs and increase the successful implementation of the SIT against invasive Lepidoptera.

Last Modified: 11/25/2014
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