Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research
Project Number: 6036-22000-026-05-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Oct 1, 2010
End Date: Sep 30, 2014
The broad objective of this project is to improve survey and control tactics for Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), an invasive cactus-feeding moth that has rapidly expanded its geographical range along both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, invaded the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, and threatens the Opuntia-based agriculture and ecosystems in the southwestern USA and Mexico. Specific objectives of this project are: 1) to optimize trap efficiency and the pheromone lure; 2) to improve implementation of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT); 3) to develop knowledge of additional control tactics that can be integrated into the containment of this pest at the leading edge of its geographical range; and 4) the eradication of this pest at point infestations that may occur beyond the leading edge.
The research and development approach will include: (1) conduct field studies to characterize factors affecting trap efficiency and to develop methods for trap calibration, (2) conduct laboratory and field trials to identify and evaluate additional sex pheromone components and pheromone blends for use as a trap lure, (3) conduct mark-release-recapture trials to evaluate the influence of storage and transportation protocols, release methodology, and release frequency on the competitiveness and dispersal ability of sterile moths, (4) evaluate the performance of filter colony and mass rearing protocols for improved sterile insect production, and (5) complete life table studies on C. cactorum and its natural enemies to identify mortality factors limiting population growth and to identify differences between the native and adventive ranges of the pest, & (6) make collections and establish colonies of native NA cactus-feeding Lepidoptera for use in host specificity tests of exotic natural enemies.