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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Predictive Modeling & Mitigation of Effects of Climate Change on Migration & Infestation Patterns of Semitropical/tropical Crop Pest Insects

Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research Unit

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
1. Establish a long-term regional monitoring network to collect fall armyworm migration data and specimens from appropriate times and locations.

2. Collections will be analyzed by a novel haplotype method to map the seasonal migration of fall armyworm from their FL and TX overwintering areas into the central and eastern U.S.

3. The data will be used to adapt air trajectory models, previously designed to assess the long-range transport of particles, for use in predicting FAW dispersal patterns in the U.S. under different climate change scenarios.

4. Assess whether increased use of sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea L.) and cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata [L.] Walpers spp. unguiculata) as cover crops can mitigate the anticipated expansion of the fall armyworm migratory range without additional pesticide use.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Three experimental strategies are proposed. First will be the establishment of a monitoring infrastructure that uses fall armyworm as a bioindicator of climatic effects on migration. Second will be the development of forecasting models to identify agricultural regions likely to face climate-induced increases in fall armyworm pressure, and thereby facilitate grower decision-making on agricultural practices and crop choice. Third will be the development of environmentally-benign strategies involving the adoption of plant species as forage or cover crops that are unsupportive of fall armyworm development and provide other benefits tailored for use in heat and water stressed environments.


3.Progress Report:

Research activities conducted in this subordinate project relate directly to Objective 3D of the parent project to map the migration pathways of fall armyworm in North America and model the potential effects of climate change on infestation patterns.

Climate change is anticipated to alter weather systems with potentially significant changes in the migration behavior of agriculturally important pest insects. Therefore, studies to develop fall armyworm as a model system to monitor the annual movements of migratory Lepidoptera were initiated. Products and sevices developed in year one in this subproject included: (1) Significant expansion of the online PestWatch database (http://www.pestwatch.psu.edu/) to now include weekly reports from new locations in 15 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces along the fall armyworm migration pathways; (2) Development of collaborations with a seed producer specializing in ground cover plants and two University of Florida researchers to facilitate sunn hemp cover crop studies; and (3) Expansion of the network of cooperators participating in the fall armyworm migration study to allow weekly monitoring of an additional 74 sites in the U.S. and 36 sites in Canada. Results from research activities were disseminated to stakeholders by participation in scientific conferences and meetings and in consulting services provide to private companies and public institutions.


Last Modified: 4/17/2014
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