Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory2013 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
ARS is interested in performing research to increase and enhance the understanding of the systematics of beetles (Coleoptera) important to agriculture, landscape plants, and the environment, especially flea beetles, wood-boring beetles, and lady beetles. Our Project Plan has four main objectives: 1) Analyze morphological characters of Neotropical flea beetle genera and assemble those of value for accurately identifying adults; 2) Discover new identification features of Neotropical longhorned woodboring beetle genera and develop new definitions based on these discoveries; 3) Conduct generic revisions, investigate species boundaries, and analyze the higher classification of lady beetles using input from contemporary molecular and morphological based studies; 4) Provide identifications of plant-feeding, woodboring, and predatory beetles, and other beetles of agricultural, economic and environmental importance.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
ARS will undertake the taxonomic research on agriculturally and economically important beetles by initially making use of many microscopic and imaging techniques. This information is used to assess homology and variation in their structural characteristics. New diagnostic tools such as descriptions, illustrations, and dichotomous and electronic identification keys will be developed using the latest software and imaging equipment available. These products will be made available to the public as hardcopy books, research papers, websites, and electronic identification systems. Timely, accurate identifications of beetles intercepted at ports-of-entry by APHIS-PPQ or submitted by scientists and regulatory agencies will be provided and relevant portions of the National Insect Collection at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution) will be curated and expanded.
3. Progress Report:
The most comprehensive collection and database of Bolivian longhorned beetles has been developed, and this includes all data on their distribution and phenology. Over 3,000 specimens have been prepared for this work. The final step, production of high resolution images of 500 species, is underway. The published book will be critical to APHIS-PPQ and other regulatory agencies to prevent the spread of pest species into the U.S. The genus and species level databases for flea beetles of the Caribbean Region have been developed and two revisionary and descriptive papers have been published. One is a revision of the New World species of genus Argopistes and another one is a description of a new genus and species of flea beetles collected in mosses in Puerto Rico. Additional research in the Lesser Antilles is necessary to complete this project. This resulting publications and identification guides are critical to APHIS-PPQ and other regulatory agencies to prevent the spread of pest species into the U.S. and better use biological control agents. Progress has been made in resolving some species boundaries in Naemia and Paranaemia, but the revision to the North American lady beetle genera Naemia and Paranaemia has not been completed. Much work remains in the study of the Central and South American Coleomegilla. Peripheral work dealing with emerging pest problems (cycad aulacaspis scale, new adventive ambrosia beetles, etc.) have been the principal reason for the delay in fully meeting this milestone. This work is critical to APHIS-PPQ and other regulatory agencies to prevent the spread of pest species into the U.S. and better use biological control agents. Significant numbers of beetle identifications have been made. In the period from October 1, 2012 to June 11, 2013, 1482 submittal lots (2322 specimens) were identified, including 1220 “urgent” and 112 “prompt” submittals for USDA-APHIS-PPQ of specimens intercepted on perishable commodities at ports of entry. “Urgent” identifications (those requiring same day turn-around of specimens intercepted on perishable commodities at ports of entry) have been processed daily as submitted. Obstacles to achieving this milestone include shortness of staff specialists to perform identifications, diversion of scientific staff to perform technical and IT functions due to loss of former positions, and loss of collaborating specialists who formerly handled regular lots for some groups. These identifications are critical to APHIS-PPQ, regulatory agencies, universities and state extension agencies.
1. An agriculturally important pest group of Diabrotica leaf beetles was revised. Many Diabrotica species are among the most economically important leaf beetles, for example D. virgifera costs approximately 1 billion dollars to the U.S. economy annually. ARS researchers in Washington, District of Columbia developed Diabrotica ID: Identification of Diabrotica species (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) from North and Central America. This interactive web-based key now allows port identifiers, researchers, and agricultural extension personnel to identify these beetles and potentially prevent introductions or spread of pest species.
2. A diverse tribe of highly variable longhorned woodboring beetles from the Caribbean was revised. Many longhorned beetles are important pests of trees, particularly when they invade non-native countries, as has the Asian longhorned beetle which has cost 100s of millions of dollars in damage and control efforts in North America. An ARS researcher in Washington, DC, has completed and published a manuscript on this tribe and described 7 previously unknown. This paper will be a valuable tool to aid in the rapid identification of potentially invasive longhorned beetles in the United States.
Cognato, A.I., Rabaglia, R.J., Vandenberg, N.J. 2013. Another Asian ambrosia bark beetle, Xyleborinus artestriatus (Eichhoff) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae), found in the United States. Pan-Pacific Entomologist. 89(1):27-31.