Location: Beneficial Insects Introduction Research
Project Number: 8010-22000-030-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated
Start Date: Jul 2, 2015
End Date: Jul 1, 2020
1: Discover, characterize, identify, evaluate the efficacy, and determine the ecological safety of exotic predators and parasitoids as classical biological control agents of invasive insect pests, including tarnished plant bug, brown marmorated stink bug, and spotted wing drosophila, and may include other new invasive species, such as kudzu bug. Sub-objective 1A: Discovery Sub-objective 1B: Characterization and identification Sub-objective 1C: Evaluation and risk assessment 2: Develop an improved understanding of factors and processes that influence the successful establishment of introduced biological control agents, such as climate adaptation, release methodologies, genetic variation in source and founder populations, using natural enemies of current target pests as model systems. Sub-objective 2A: Conduct retrospective analyses of current/past biological control programs (where appropriate). Sub-objective 2B: Conduct laboratory and field studies of selected biological traits and ecological requirements relevant to the establishment and efficacy of the target biological control agents. 3: Prepare (with collaborators, when appropriate and necessary) petitions to regulatory agencies for field release of candidate agents, conduct field releases for establishment of new agents, and monitor and evaluate the impact of these natural enemies on target pest populations and on non-target species in the field. Sub-objective 3A: Develop and submit a petition for release that describes the importance of the target pest and the efficacy and safety of the candidate biocontrol agent; and participate in the regulatory decision process as needed. Sub-objective 3B: Conduct releases and post-release monitoring (with cooperators when necessary) of permitted natural enemies.
Classical (importation) biological control is a pest management technology that is environmentally safe and sustainable. This project focuses on discovery, evaluation, and establishment of classical biological control agents of selected agricultural pests in the U.S. Previous research continued into this project addresses as targets tarnished plant bugs, brown marmorated stink bug; and spotted wing drosophila. New targets may be added at any time according to national need. To address objective (1) we will conduct foreign exploration in Asia and other regions as needed to discover, identify and evaluate the biology, ecology, and efficacy of exotic predators and parasitoids as classical biological control agents of the targeted pests. Agents discovered in exploration will be returned to our laboratory and identified using the best available morphological characters in conjunction with molecular sequence data, and evaluated in our quarantine facility for efficacy by measuring attack rates, reproductive output and development rates, and for host specificity by testing both close relatives to target hosts and progressively more distantly related species under choice and no-choice conditions. Objective (2) will address the role of environmental factors such as climate and photoperiod or inherent genetic variability in determining establishment success. Using a parasitoid of tarnished plant bug that established in some regions of the US but not others as the model subject, we will characterize the genetic variability of populations established in the US and their relation to genetic source populations in Europe. Using parasitoids of any or all target pests, we will test the influence of differing environmental factors such as temperature, soil moisture and photoperiod regimes on parasitoid survival in environmental growth chambers and comparative field exposures. To address objective (3) we will prepare petitions for field release of qualified candidate agents of all target pests determined to be both effective and safe, based on satisfactory results of evaluation studies. These will be submitted to technical advisory panels and APHIS, in collaboration with relevant project partners as necessary. Supplemental research will be conducted to provide additional information if requested by APHIS. Once permits are received we will participate with cooperators as needed in conducting releases and post-release monitoring of the natural enemies. Where possible the releases will be designed to compare different geographic populations or genetic accessions of the agent for differences in climate adaptation, efficacy or other behavioral characteristics.