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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICALLY BASED TECHNIQUES TO LIMIT THE DISPERSAL OF INVASIVE PESTS

Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research Unit

Title: The Multiple 'Personalities' of Cactoblastis cactorum: A Multi-Disciplinary Response to the Biological Impacts of the Moth's Geographical Wanderings

Authors
item Hight, Stephen
item Carpenter, James

Submitted to: Entomological Society of America Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: December 13, 2010
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The cactus moth,is perhaps the most well known and successful classical biological control agent against weeds.However, the moth has become a pest in North America where it attacks native cactus, threatening rare and endangered species, ornamental interests, agricultural systems, and desert ecosystems. The underlying concept of our proposed symposium is that changes in the geographic range of an insect affect the character of that insect, whether the insect moves into a new location or geographic based changes occur in the insects’ home range. As changes take place, new entomological techniques and disciplines are needed to address and identify modifications and adaptations that occur in the insect. No system explains this concept as well as cactus moth.

Technical Abstract: The cactus feeding pyralid Cactoblastis cactorum is perhaps the most well know successful classical biological control agent against weeds when attacking non-native prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.). However, the moth has become a pest in North America where it attacks native Opuntia spp.; threatening rare and endangered species, ornamental interests, agricultural systems, and desert ecosystems. The underlying concept of our proposed symposium is that changes in the geographic range of an insect affect the character of that insect, whether the insect moves into a new location or geographic based changes occur in the insects’ home range. As changes take place, new entomological techniques and disciplines are needed to address and identify modifications and adaptations that occur in the insect. No system explains this concept as well as C. cactorum. An expanding Inca Empire introduced a new host plant species into the native range of pre-European C. cactorum and the insect responded with change. The insect underwent changes when it was selected and spread by humans as a successful biological control agent on invasive cactus. Later, changes occurred when the insect became an invasive species on native cactus. Each of these transitions required the focus of multiple disciplines to analyze and identify the changes in the insect and, eventually, to combat the deleterious nature of C. cactorum as it continues to expand in its current modified geographic range. The goal of our proposed symposium is to expose the entomological community at large to the recent scientific and technological breakthroughs regarding C. cactorum biology and management. Our proposed presentations address all of the 2010 ESA Annual Meeting themes on diversity. Entomological diversity is highlighted at both a scientific level (various pest management tactics, including biological control, insecticides, and the sterile insect technique) and an organism level (taxonomic and genetic diversity of cactus-feeding Phycitinae, especially C. cactorum populations). Disciplinary diversity is presented in this symposium with academic and governmental scientists from the fields of biological control (practitioners as well as regulators), pheromone chemistry, insect taxonomy, insect and plant ecology, and population genetics. Geographical diversity is represented by the presenters’ locations (five U.S. states, Mexico, and Argentina) and the insect’s worldwide distribution. This symposium covers biological diversity relative to host plant diversity, insect diversity, and genetic diversity.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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