Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research
Project Number: 6036-22000-031-01-S
Project Type: Specific Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Apr 1, 2012
End Date: Apr 1, 2017
To develop and improve the biologically based technolgies used for the area-wide control of disease-vectoring thrips and migratory Lepidoptera, such as, the invasive cactus moth. The particular methods of interest are classical, inundative and conservation biological control of both insects and plants, particularly the latter that serve as pathogen reserviors, and the sterile insect technique (SIT). The systems for investigations will serve as models for testing hypotheses regarding novel biologically based Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques. Results of this research are not limited to specific pests but will have broad applicability to other systems. The cooperator will provide the needed expertise in spatial ecology and detection techniques to analyze the spread and movement of pests and natural enemies and thus facilitate development of managment programs, including optimal biological control agent release strategies.
A principle obstacle to better control the disease-vectoring thrips and whiteflies is the lack of information concerning weeds, sometimes invasive, pathogen reserviors, and the movements of insects between these reservoirs and crops. There is also a dearth of knowledge on natural enemies and their impact in crop and non-crop situations. The cooperator will develop new methods, including genetic, that will determine the presence of infections and the consequeances of infection on insect behavior and ecology, and the spread of disease. Subsequently, the efficacies of biological control agens, of both plant reservoirs and pests, will be screened in collaboration with the Principal Investigator. The cooperator and the ADODR will also examine the dispersal behavior and efficacy of sterile males of the invasive cactus moth to optimize release strategies and will develop other tactics to prevent its further spread. Techniques will include mark-recapture and measures of physiological flight capacity. The potential of other control approaches especially, biological control will also be examined.