Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Crop Bioprotection Research » CBP Docs » Notable Achievements

Notable Achievements
headline bar

        New methods to commercially produce fungi that kill insect pests and ticks.  CBP scientists developed the first methods to grow and commercially produce high concentrations of stable forms of the bioinsecticidal fungus Metarhizium anisopliae (MA) to infect and kill a number of soil-dwelling insect pests such as Japanese beetle grubs, wireworms, rootworms, and root maggots. Moreover, the researchers were able to successfully use these methods to produce MA to kill lesser meal worm larvae and adults, which are important pests in commercial poultry operations. Recently, the team adapted these methods to produce a related fungus, M. brunneum, to kill deer ticks that carry Lyme disease; this agent, in combination with a repellant known as nootkatone that the team formulated for tick control in collaboration with scientists at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, provides a 'one-two punch' for tick control.  The U.S. Golf Association has also partnered with the Peoria scientists to explore potential applications to control turf pests.  A patent on the technology is pending and was licensed to a private sector partner in 2012, thereby enhancing the commercial viability of Metarhizium insect biocontrol agents and providing homeowners, farmers, and land managers an effective non-chemical control for soil-dwelling insect pests and ticks. 


Key References:

a.       Jackson, M.A. and Jaronski, S.T. Composition of entomopathogenic fungus and method of production and application for insect control. U.S. Patent Application 11/901,547. 2007.


b.      Jaronski, S.T. and Jackson, M.A. Efficacy of Metarhizium anisopliae microsclerotial granules. Biocontrol Science and Technology. 18:849-863. 2008.


c.       Jaronski, S.T. and Jackson, M.A. Further progress with Metarhizium microsclerotial production. Proceedings of the IOBC/WPRS Journal. 45:275-278. 2009. 


d.      Behle, R. W., Flor-Weiler, L. B., Bharadwaj, A. and Stafford III,  K. C. A formulation to encapsulate nootkatone for tick control. Journal of Medical Entomology 48:1120-1127. 2011.


e.       Flor-Weiler, L.B., Behle, R.W., Stafford, K.C. 3rd.Susceptibility of four tickspecies, Amblyomma americanum, Dermacentor variabilis, Ixodes scapularis, and Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Acari: Ixodidae), to nootkatone from essential oil of grapefruit. Journal of Medical Entomology48:322-326. 2011.


f.       Bharadwaj, A., Stafford III, K. C. and Behle, R. W. Efficacy and environmental persistence of nootkatone for the control of the blacklegged tick (Acari: Ixodidae) in residential landscapes.  Journal of Medical Entomology 49:1035-1044. 2012.


g.      Jackson, M.A.and Jaronski, S.T. Evaluation of pilot-scale fermentation and stabilization processes for microsclerotia of the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae. Journal of Biocontrol Science and Technology. 22:915-930. 2012.


h.      Petzold-Maxwell, J.L., Jaronski, S.T., Clifton, E.H., Dunbar, M.W., Jackson, M.A. and Gassman, A.J. Interactions among Bt maize, entomopathogens, and rootworm species (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) in the field: effects on survival, yield and root injury. Journal of Economic Entomology, in press. 2013.


i.        Behle, R.W., Jackson, M.A. and Flor-Weiler, L.B. Efficacy of a granular formulation containing Metarhizium brunneum F52 (Hypocreales: Clavicipitaceae) microsclerotia against nymphs of Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixoididae). Journal of Economic Entomology 106:57-63. 2013.



               New biocompatible foams to deliver living microbial agents for insect pest control. Many pest insects hide in locations that can only be reached by using foam spraying technologies.  However, the chemicals typically used in pesticide foams are detrimental to most microbial biocontrol agents, reducing their efficacy or even preventing their use.  In addition, most foaming agents cannot be used in organic farming operations due to the nature of their chemical composition.  CBP scientists developed and patented a natural, protein-based foaming agent technology that is compatible with living microbial agents and which can be used for organic pest control.  This technology has been successfully applied to treat a number of insect pests, including several species of moth and beetles pests of fruit trees as well as Formosan subterranean termites.  The latter alone are estimated to cost the United States over one billion dollars a year in damage and prevention. While natural termiticidal microbial agents have been identified, their effectiveness has been limited by how and where they can be applied due to the termites' subterranean nature.  The technology developed by the CBP team overcomes those problems and was featured on the History Channel television show "Modern Marvels" in 2009.


Key References:

a.       Dunlap, C. A., Jackson, M. A., and Wright, M. S. 2007.  A foam formulation of Paecilomyces fumosoroseus, an entomopathogenic biocontrol agent. Biocontrol Sci. Technol. 17:513-523. 2007.

b.      Wright, M.S., Connick, Jr., W.J. and Jackson, M.A. Use of Paecilomyces spp. as pathogenic agents against subterranean termites. U.S. Patent 7,390,480 B2.  2008.


c.       Jackson, M. A., Dunlap, C. A., and Jaronski, S. T.  Ecological considerations in producing and formulating fungal entomopathogens for use in insect biocontrol. Biocontrol 55:129-145. 2010.


d.      Dunlap, C.A., Jackson, M.A., and Wright, M.S. Compositions of keratin hydrolysates and microbes for pest control applications. U.S. Patent 8,263,526 B2.  2012.



              Production of the bioherbicide Mycoleptodiscus terrestris for Managing Aquatic Weed Infestations. Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) and Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) are invasive aquatic weeds that are a major threat to aquatic ecosystems in the United States and across the world. CBP scientists developed the first liquid culture fermentation method for the production of high concentrations of a stable, infective form of the aquatic fungus Mycoleptodiscus terrestris (MT) to kill these and a number of other aquatic weeds.  Subsequently, the CBP team partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to apply this technology to successfully alleviate Hydrilla infestations clogging waterways in the Southeast.  U.S. and foreign patents were issued on the novel composition of the stable infective form of MT and were licensed to a commercial partner.  The success of this technology resulted in the Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer in 2010 for ARS.   


Key References:

a.       Jackson, M.A. and Shearer, J.F. Mycoherbicidal compositions and methods of preparing and using the same. Australian Patent 2003299477. 2008.


b.      Jackson, M.A. and Shearer, J.F. Mycoherbicidal compositions and methods of preparing and using the same. Canadian Patent 2,485,231. 2008.


c.       Jackson, M.A., Dunlap, C.A., Shearer, J.F. and Heilman M.A. The impact of temperature on the production and fitness of microsclerotia of the fungal bioherbicide Mycoleptodiscusterrestris, a pathogen of the aquatic weed hydrilla. Biocontrol Science and Technology. 21:547-562. 2011.


d.      Dunlap, C.A., Jackson, M.A. and Saha, B.C. Compatible solutes of sclerotia of Mycoleptodiscus terrestris under different culture and drying conditions. Biocontrol Science and Technology. 21:112-123. 2011.



            New chemical attractants for the detection, monitoring and control of the Emerald Ash Borer.  Sex pheromones (chemicals produced by insects to attract mates) are needed in pest management programs to detect, track, and monitor insect populations. The emerald ash borer (EAB; Agrilus planipennis) is an invasive insect pest that is causing severe damage to ash trees in North America.  CBP scientists were the first to identify the EAB sex pheromone.  In collaboration with scientists from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Canadian Forest Service, it was later shown that the sex pheromone can be mixed with a chemical produced by ash trees to make a highly effective attractant for adults.  This newly developed attractant mixture is more cost-efficient than the ash oils that are currently used for EAB monitoring and surveillance. In addition, the CBP-led team recently found attractants for the parasitic wasp Spathius agrili, a natural enemy of the EAB and a potential EAB biocontrol agent. The attractants are being used by APHIS scientists for tracking S. agrili in order to monitor its effectiveness for controlling EAB infestations.


Key References:

a.       Bartelt, R. J., Coss?, A. A., Zilkowski, B. W. and Fraser, I.  Antennally active macrolide from the emerald ash borer Agrilus planipennis emitted predominantly by females.  J. Chem. Ecol. 33:1299-1302. 2007.


b.      Silk, P. J., Ryall, K., Mayo, P., Lemay, M. A., Grant, G., Crook, D., Coss?, A. A.,  Fraser, I., Sweeney, J. D., Lyons, D. B., Pitt, D., Scarr, T. and MaGee, D.  Evidence for a volatile pheromone in Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire (Coleoptera:  Buprestidae) that increases attraction to a host foliar volatile.  Environ. Ent.  40:904-916. 2011.


c.       Crook, D. J., Khrimian, A., Coss?, A. A., Ivich, F. and Mastro, V. C.  Influence of trap color and host volatiles on capture of the emerald ash borer (Coleoptera: Buprestidae).  J. Econ. Ent. 105:429-437. 2012.


d.      Ryall, K. L., Silk, P. J., Mayo, P., Crook, D., Khrimian, A., Coss?, A. A.,
Sweeney, J. and Scarr, T.  Attraction of Agrilus planipennis (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) to a volatile pheromone:  Effects of release rate, host volatile, and trap placement.  Environ. Ent. 41:648-656. 2012.


e.       Coss?, A. A.,  Petroski, R. J., Zilkowski, B. W., Vermillion, K., Lelito, J. P., Cooperband, M. F. and Gould, J. R.  Male-produced pheromone of Spathius agrili, a parasitoid introduced for the biological control of the invasive emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis.  J. Chem. Ecol. 38:389-399. 2012.