Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics


Location: European Biological Control Laboratory

2012 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Explore for natural enemies of insect pests (e.g., olive fruit fly, Lygus bugs), and wood borers (e.g., longhorned beetles and emerald ash borers) and other pests as identified as high priority targets by the ARS Office of National Programs. • Sub-objective 1A - Discovery and collection of potential biological control agents for service to other laboratories that provide further development of the natural enemies. • Sub-objective 1B - Quantitative measurements and observations that lead to new documentation on biology of potential biological control agents and their hosts. • Sub-objective 1C - Genetic studies that enhance the chance of success with new biological control agents. Objective 2: Identify, colonize and evaluate the most promising natural enemies and ship them to U.S. cooperators. Results of laboratory (including genetics and behavior) and field studies will be used to improve the ability to predict key factors for application to future programs. • Sub-objective 2A – Identification, colonization, and evaluation of efficacy of biological control agents. • Sub-objective 2B – Documentation of life table parameters and biological characteristics. • Sub-objective 2C – Genetic parameters as predictors of successful biological control.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Biological control through the introduction of natural enemies continues to be one of the most effective, cheap, and environmentally safe solutions to problems created by introduced pests and invasive species. We propose to take advantage of the experienced staff, biologically strategic location, and excellent facilities of the European Biological Control Laboratory in Montpellier, France, and its satellite laboratory in Thessaloniki, Greece, to discover potential biological control agents, characterize them genetically, evaluate their efficacy, and describe relevant aspects of their bionomics. Scientific output from these efforts will include taxonomic, genetic, and biological descriptions of important species in the Palearctic and Ethiopian regions. The target species of these efforts will include the olive fruit fly, vine mealybug, the European grapevine moth, the diamondback moth, the olive psyllid, Lygus bugs, and Asian longhorned beetle. In addition, we will use model species (the southern green stink bug and the tarnished plant bug) to test the hypothesis that the success of parasitoid wasps as biological control agents can be predicted by examining genetic parameters.

3. Progress Report:
For objective 1 (explore for and characterize natural enemies of priority pests) we shipped lygus parasitoids from France to US cooperators; Moroccan lygus parasitoids were mass reared for field release in DE and CA by ARS-Newark and NJDA. We discovered a parasitoid that attacks the kudzu bug and sent collections to ARS-Stoneville for host range studies. We made plans for foreign exploration for natural enemies of bagrada bug and collaborative research on kudzu bug with ARS-Stoneville. Exploration in NE and SW China was conducted and an egg of citrus longhorned beetle was found in Southern China and being identified. We continued improving methods of rearing olive fly parasitoids and studied their nutritional ecology. SCA 0212-22000-022-06T with the French INRA supported basic research on olive fly parasitoids. Two agents have been released in California and Israel. Further evidence of establishment of one species in CA was obtained this summer. We examined mating barriers between Chinese and French populations of olive fruit fly to define the taxonomic status of Chinese flies. Research in France and Italy on citrus and Asian long horned beetles with Italian agency MINOPRIO (0212-22000-024-8T) developed a release technique for an egg parasitoid of CLB in Northern Italy. For Objective 2 (identify, evaluate and colonize promising candidates for US cooperators) we continued studies comparing the impact of French and Israeli strains of a vine mealybug parasitoid on a California mealybug strain. A preliminary study of the behavioral response of codling moth and European grape vine moth to different odors was conducted in the laboratory with a visiting New Zealand research fellow. We collected field samples and developed microsatellite markers of an introduced lygus parasitoid for a retrospective genetic analysis of U.S. lygus biocontrol programs. Research on invasive long horned beetles analyzed within-gallery temperature data from an entire year in trees infested with CLB to validate a degree-day model for beetle development. Studies of hibernation by diapausing CLB egg parasitoids in actual outdoor conditions were begun to improve diapause survival rate. American Farm School MOU 0212-22000-023-11M provides our Greek substation with lab and office space, facilitating exploration and field work in the Balkan region. Ancillary project (0212-22000-024-11T) involves DoD, university and Greek agencies in faunistic survey and population monitoring in northern Greece for sand flies and mosquitoes, including monitoring West Nile virus and malaria. We tested traps and other management approaches. MOU 0212-22000-023-12M with Benaki Phytopathology Institute supports mutual-interest research on local strains of olive fly pathogens. MOU 0212-22000-022-07M with Joint Genomic Center (Sophia University, Bulgaria) facilitates idea exchange and genomics cooperation; an ARS-JGC workshop is planned. We provided entomopathogens to ARS-Weslaco for research on varroa mite. With CSIRO and New Zealand’s Landcare Research we defined the taxonomic status of a dung beetle as a precondition for its introduction into Australia and New Zealand using multilocus sequencing.

4. Accomplishments

Review Publications
Williams Iii, L.H., Zhu, Y., Snodgrass, G.L., Manrique, V. 2012. Plant-mediated decisions by an herbivore affect oviposition pattern and subsequent egg parasitism. Arthropod-Plant Interactions. 6:159-169. DOI 10.1007/s11829-011-9165-0.

Lee, J.C., Negron, J., Mcelwey, S., Williams, L., Witcosky, J., Popp, J., Seybold, S. 2011. Biology of the invasive banded elm bark beetle, Scolytus schevyrewi Semenov (Coleoptera: Scolytidae), in the western United States. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 104(4):705-717.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page