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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Tracy C Leskey


Professional Biographical Information:


Ph.D.  Entomology.  2000.  The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, AmherstMA01003.  Dissertation: Olfactory and Visual Stimuli Guiding Adult Plum Curculios, Conotrachelus nenuphar (Herbst) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), to Host Plants.


M.S.  Ecology.  1995.  The PennsylvaniaStateUniversity, University ParkPA16802.  Thesis: Influence of flowering of Acer saccharum Marsh. on reproduction of Taeniothrips inconsequens (Uzel) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae). 


B.S.  Biology.  1990.  WilsonCollege, Chambersburg, PA. 17201.  Thesis Project: Locating concretions in Malphigian tubules in an unidentified species of cranefly (Diptera: Tipulidae) using light and transmission electron microscopy.


Current CV



Laboratory Personnel

Starker E. Wright

Torri J. Hancock

John Cullum

Brent Short

Cameron Scorza

Bryan Butler

Rebecca Posa



Description of Research Projects:


The goal of our laboratory is to develop effective and economical methods for successful monitoring and/or management of key insect pests of tree fruit that will ultimately result in a reduction of or a replacement for conventional insecticides in orchard ecosystems.  Our studies focus mainly on behavioral and chemical ecology of these pests. 



Brown Marmorated Stink Bug


This project involves development of behaviorally based monitoring tools and management strategies for the invasive brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) in tree fruit:


  • Identification of attractive visual cues including color and light for incorporation into trap designs
  • Phenology and identification characteristics of BMSB injury on tree fruit
  • Identification of the true BMSB aggregation pheromone
  • Development of monitoring tools to track BMSB activity in commercial tree fruit orchards
  • Behaviorally based bioassays of insecticide efficacy against BMSB
  • Development of behaviorally based management strategies such as "attract and kill" and mass trapping




            Dr. Aijun Zhang, USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD

            Drs. Chris Bergh, Doug Pfeiffer, Ames Herbert and Tom Kuhar, Virginia Tech

            Dr. Greg Krawczyk, PennStateUniversity

            Drs. Dean Polk and George Hamilton, RutgersUniversity

            Dr. Peter Shearer, OregonStateUniversity

Drs. Paula Shrewsbury, Mike Raupp, Galen Dively, and Stanton Gill, UMD





Plum Curculio


Conotrachelus nenuphar (Herbst) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), the plum curculio, is a key pest of apple in the eastern United States and Canada and a destructive pest of plum and peach in the southern United States.  There is no effective method to monitor movement of plum curculio from overwintering sites to border rows of orchards where plum curculios enter and begin to damage fruit each spring.  Some of our current studies are listed below:


  • Identification of competitive host fruit tree volatile for use as lures associated with traps.  
  • Relationship between physiological state of the insect and response to olfactory stimuli.
  • Identification of effective strains of entomopathogenic nematodes for control of PC larvae
  • Development of an electroanntenogram technique and laboratory assay methods.
  • Potential for multiple component male-produced aggregation pheromone.
  • Using harmonic radar to track plum curculio movement.
  • Using a 'trap tree' approach to control plum curculio in apple orchards in New England



            Dr. Aijun Zhang, USDA-ARS BARC Beltsville MD

            Dr. David Shapiro-Ilan, USDA-ARS, Byron, GA

            Drs. Gerald Chouinard and Daniel Cormier, IRDA, Quebec, Canada

            Drs. Charles Vincent and Gilles Boiteau, Agriculture and AgriFood Canada,

Quebec, Canada



Dogwood Borer


Synanthedon scitula Harris, the dogwood borer, is an indirect pest of apple with an increasingly important economic impact due to widespread planting of apple trees on size-controlling rootstocks.  These plantings promote the formation of adventitious root initials (burr knots) near the graft union.  Adult females oviposit on these burr knots and subsequent larval feeding larval feeding over consecutive seasons can lead to consumption of burr knot tissue and feeding in the cambial layer, ultimately resulting in tree death from girdling.  This is a collaborative project between my laboratory, Dr. Christopher Bergh, Department of Entomology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and StateUniversity, Dr. Aijun Zhang, USDA-ARS, BARC, and Dr. Jim Walgenbach, North CarolinaStateUniversity.  Some of our current studies are listed below:


  • Refinement of the pheromone-based monitoring system for dogwood borer
  • Potential for bivoltinism in the mid-Atlantic region
  • Horticultural impact of persistent dogwood borer infestations
  • Mating disruption of a potential control strategy



            Dr. Chris Bergh, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and StateUniversity

            Dr. Aijun Zhang, USDA-ARS BARC, Beltsville MD

            Dr. Jim Walgenbach, North CarolinaStateUniversity




Apple Maggot Fly


Rhagoletis pomonella Walsh(Diptera: Tephritidae), the apple maggot fly is a key pest of apple in the eastern and midwestern United States and in eastern Canada and becoming increasingly important in the western United States.  .Some of our current studies are listed below:


  • Refinement of attracticidal spheres for control
  • Evaluating novel feeding stimulants and attractants to improve performance of attracticidal spheres
  • Deployment strategies for attracticidal spheres in orchards using IPM- and organic-based management regimes



            Dr. Harvey Reissig, CornellUniversity

            Peter Jentsch, CornellUniversity



Last Modified: 8/12/2016
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