Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory2013 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The order Lepidoptera represents one of the greatest radiations of herbivorous animals on the planet. The research component of this plan focuses on the three most economically important families (or superfamilies) of this order, i.e., Noctuidae, Pyraloidea, and Tortricidae. Gaps in our knowledge of morphological, biological, and molecular characters, and the paucity of phylogenetic analyses within many groups in these families combine to slow progress on the development of identification tools for use in pest detection, exclusion, and management, and in the successful implementation of biological control projects. The primary focus of this plan is to remedy those shortcomings by making available to a broad audience tools, databases, and images that will facilitate identifications and research over a broad range of economically important taxa. Within the families/superfamilies Noctuidae, Pyraloidea, and Tortricidae, specific taxonomic groups are selected for revision based on the expertise within the Systematic Entomology Laboratory, the need for revisionary work, and the relevance of the group to American agriculture. Two of the systematic revisions proposed herein are long-term activities which will be completed during the current project. As with all projects in the Systematic Entomology Laboratory at Beltsville, this project also includes a service component that draws upon SEL experts to identify specimens for regulatory agencies (often on an urgent basis) and other research agencies and stakeholders, and maintain and enhance portions of the National Insect Collection. The objectives are: (1) determine species boundaries, describe new species, develop identification keys and illustrations, define relationships among taxa, and investigate host use and specificity of important moth species that are pests of, or beneficial to U.S. agriculture; (2) compile, organize, and post on the web electronic databases and images of primary types of important moth families; and (3) provide expert identifications of specimens submitted by stakeholders worldwide and manage assigned lepidopteran portions of the U.S. National Insect Collection.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
ARS will undertake research to generate morphological and molecular characters (DNA sequences) that will be used to test species concepts and hypotheses of relationship among agriculturally important moths. These data also will be used to develop new diagnostic tools (descriptions, illustrations, keys) to permit more rapid and accurate identifications. Databases containing scientific names, distributions, taxonomic literature, and host plant and specimen data pertaining to economically important moths will be expanded and disseminated to the user community. These and other taxonomic tools will be made accessible to the public via publications, the internet, and other electronic media. Timely and accurate identifications of moths will be provided, including those intercepted at ports-of-entry by APHIS-PPQ or submitted by a wide range of scientists and regulatory agencies. Portions of the National Insect Collection at the National Museum of Natural History, a vital tool for research and identification, will be maintained and enhanced.
3. Progress Report:
A draft was completed of the monographic treatment of the Western Hemisphere members of moths of the subfamily known as sun-loving moths. The monograph is presently over 500 manuscript pages, and includes keys to the genera and species, 700 color images of adults, and over images of morphological characters. It documents over 210 species and includes major pests such as the corn earworm, tobacco budworm, and flax bollworm. The work will be of interest to ecologists, pest managers, and APHIS personnel at U.S. ports-of-entry. Draft diagnoses and descriptions (or re-descriptions) of all the species in 22 of the 24 genera of North American Cochylini were prepared in support of a monographic treatment of this leaf-roller group of moths. Also, several samples were submitted for COI (“barcode”) sequencing. Expert identifications of submitted insects were provided for customers and stakeholders, including 533 (totaling 844 specimens) urgent (same day) identifications and 701 (totaling 1,489 specimens) prompt, rush, and routine identifications. Portions of the National Insect Collection assigned to the scientists in the project were maintained and enhanced.
1. The most comprehensive phylogenetic analysis to date of the entire order Lepidoptera based on molecular data was published in collaboration with several international colleagues. The order comprises over 150,000 described species worldwide, including numerous economically important plant pests and many biological control agents. The work will be of interest to scientists studying the evolution and radiation of plant-feeding insect groups.
2. The first molecular phylogeny for the Pyraloidea or snout moths was published. The phylogeny serves as a predictive classification for one of the largest groups of economically important moths with over 15,000 species worldwide. Pyraloidea includes numerous major pests of crops, such as the European corn borer, and of major stored foodstuffs, such as the Indianmeal moth, forests and ornamental plants, as well as biological control agents used successfully against invasive plants.
Regier, J.C., Mitter, C.E., Solis, M.A., Hayden, J.E., Landry, B., Nuss, M., Simonsen, T.J. 2012. A molecular phylogeny for the pyraloid moths (Lepidoptera: Pyraloidea) and its implications for higher-level classification. Systematic Entomology. 37:635-656.