Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research
Project Number: 6036-22000-026-19-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement
Start Date: Oct 1, 2012
End Date: Sep 30, 2013
The broad objective of this project is to improve 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 to develop control tactics that can be integrated into the containment of this pest at the leading edge of its geographical range, and the eradication of this pest at point infestations that may occur beyond the leading edge. The primary tactics of control are biological control with a host specific parasitoid from Argentina, and disruption of insect pheromone communication systems (both adult mating and larval movement).
The research and development approach will include: (1) collaborate in the host range determination and impact evaluation of a newly discovered Argentine parasitoid of C. cactorum; (2) collect non-target cactus-feeding Lepidoptera for host range testing in US, Florida quarantine; (3) arrange and conduct pheromone mating disruption trials at Opuntia plantations in Argentina; (4) collaborate in field bioassay trials in Florida to evaluate the potential to use the C. cactorum larval trail-following pheromone.