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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Semiochemicals for the Management of Agricultural Pests

Location: Crop Bioprotection Research

Project Number: 5010-22000-010-00
Project Type: Appropriated

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

Objective:
Identify chemical attractants (e.g., pheromones/kairomones and plant volatiles) for agriculturally important insect species (either pests or biocontrol agents for weed or insect pests) for which such knowledge is lacking or incomplete, determine the biological and environmental parameters for natural emission of the compounds, and synthesize or otherwise obtain them in quantities sufficient for field use. Characterize the behavioral responses toward the identified compounds under bioassay and field conditions, with special consideration to the development of practical management tools.

Approach:
The overall goals of this proposed research are to identify compounds that are attractive to pest insects and beneficial insects and to develop these semiochemicals into practical applications such as monitoring tools and pest control strategies. The project focuses on insect species for which such information is lacking or incomplete. The target species belong to a diverse group of insects: The emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis, is a severe invasive buprestid pest of ash trees in North America. Host volatiles and essential oils contain several biologically active compounds useful for monitoring EAB. Purification and synthetic methods will be developed to obtain these target compounds in quantities necessary for field experiments. Three exotic parasitoids, Spathius agrili, Oobius agrili, and Tetrastichus planipennis have been released as possible EAB biocontrol agents. Semiochemicals involved in the parasitoid-host-tree complex will be identified focusing first on pheromones as attractants in monitoring the survival and establishment of newly released parasitoid populations. Diorhabda spp. are introduced biocontrol beetles for the invasive weedy tree, saltcedar (Tamarix spp.). Pheromone components for Diorhabda spp. are known, but the precise blend ratios for optimal attractiveness are still incomplete and will be further investigated. The lesser mealworm beetle (LMW), Alphitobius diaperinus is a global insect pest of commercially raised poultry. The pheromone blend of the LMW has recently been identified and can be synergized with poultry manure volatiles. However, knowledge on the correct blend composition is lacking. Optimized blends will be field-evaluated in order to develop a LMW control strategy. Users of the research results would be grower groups, regulatory agencies, land management agencies, businesses dealing with insect attractants, and other scientists.

Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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