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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Biting and Stinging Pests: Ecology and Biologically-Base Control

Location: Biological Control of Pests Research Unit

Project Number: 6066-22320-008-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Mar 11, 2012
End Date: Mar 30, 2015

Objective:
Objective 1: Innovate new and established chemical approaches for management of imported fire ants in order to create new and more effective ways to control them. Sub-objective 1A: Search for new fire ant toxins from defensive chemicals in other ants. Objective 2: Develop improved formulations and new products for more effectively controlling floodwater mosquitoes using biological control agents and natural products. Sub-objective 2A: Determine key physiological processes in the embryonating and embryonated eggs that may suggest new ovicidal targets or markers. Sub-objective 2B: Discover biopesticides with ovicidal activity. Sub-objective 2C: Develop effective formulations of selected biopesticides/natural products with demonstrated ovicidal effects to enhance penetration and lethality. Objective 3: Determine the most valuable applications of natural, safe insecticides as part of integrated pest management (IPM) programs of veterinary, public health, and agricultural pests. Objective 4: Participate in development of new products based on green biopesticides.

Approach:
Despite the effort in developing alternative control technologies, management of fire ants and mosquitoes has continued to have challenges associated with effectiveness, application strategy, and cost. New environmentally friendly biopesticides would make product handling easier, improve public acceptance, and potentially provide more effective control. For fire ants, we will search new toxins from defensive chemicals produced by other ants and develop double-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) toxins. New toxins will be used in bait, mound drench and immersion treatment. Floodwater mosquitoes have evolved a reproductive strategy in which females deposit their eggs in damp soil of flood prone areas. The temporary separation of eggs from water may provide an opportunity to control eggs without applying control agents directly into the water, thereby reducing their impact on non-target aquatic organisms. An effective ovicide would also make it possible to treat floodwater mosquitoes over a longer period of time before emergence, greatly improving the practicality of community based control programs. Our research on mosquitoes focus on discovering biopesticides with ovicidal activity by studying key physiological processes in the embryonating and embryonated eggs and on identifying new naturally occurring substances and pathogenic microorganisms which can disrupt those processes. A correct formulation will greatly enhance the penetration of biopesticides into insect eggs. By selecting the right adjuvant group and optimizing hydrophile-lipophile balance (HLB) numbers, the improved biological formulation should be able to attack the eggs of the targeted mosquitoes.

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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