Overseas Biological Control Laboratories (OBCL)
Directors of the Overseas Biological Control Laboratories publish news articles to highlight their current work and success stories.
In September 2021, USDA ARS Australian Biological Control Laboratory (ABCL) staff members commenced an ancillary project to rear Encyrtid wasp parasitoids from the native 3-host tick species to assess their potential as biological control agents for the cattle fever tick, Rhipicephalus microplus.
In January, USDA ARS Australian Biological Control Laboratory (ABCL) staff member Christine Goosem went on long-term study leave to complete a PhD on Passiflora pollination through James Cook University in Cairns, Australia. Christine will be missed. We wish her all the best in her studies look forward to her return in 2024.
The Office of International Research Engagement and Cooperation (OIREC) is pleased to announce the selection of Robert Shatters as the next director of the ARS European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL), starting in October 2022.
The viburnum leaf beetle Pyrrhalta viburni is an invasive pest in North America that defoliates plants belonging to the genus Viburnum (Figure 1). Viburnums are popular ornamental plants that are used in gardens and managed landscapes worldwide. In North America, native viburnums are an important component of forest understories, and their fruits provide food for overwintering birds.
As part of any classical biological control program insects must be raised, often in relatively high numbers, to facilitate all aspects of the research and eventual release (Figure 1). The insects typically are herbivorous and must be fed a variety of different plant species specific to that insect’s dietary requirements.
On March 8, 2022, in recognition of International Women’s Day, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement hosted a webinar in the spirit of “Breaking the Bias” to celebrate the role of international women in agriculture.
DNA Diagnostic Tools for Detecting Beneficial Wasps to Help Control Cattle Fever Ticks and Tick-borne Zoonoses
Cattle fever ticks are a growing concern for livestock producers, property owners, and wildlife managers. Their presence on property, livestock and wildlife in Texas forces owners to quarantine their livestock and begin expensive treatments to eliminate ticks to prevent the onset of Texas cattle fever (also named bovine babesiosis), a highly fatal disease for infested animals.
Prickly pear cacti (Opuntia spp.) are easily recognizable by the presence of broad flat pads, or stems, typically covered with many spines. They are native to the Americas, and in the United States, they grow in arid and semi-arid regions, and areas prone to drought including the western and south-central states.
Saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) is a genus of old world plants that are highly invasive along waterways, mainly in arid areas. They tend to consume vast quantities of water in these water-deprived areas and salinize the soil in the process. Saltcedar was the target of a successful biocontrol project in North America that involved the introduction of a leaf beetle known as the tamarisk beetle (Diorhabda sp.).
Globally, it is estimated that there are approximately 5.5 million species of insects. With only 1 million insect species named, this suggests that 80% remain to be discovered.