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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Research Project #429893

Research Project: Urban Small Farms and Gardens Pest Management

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-22000-288-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 26, 2015
End Date: Oct 25, 2020

Objective 1: Identify, synthesize, and develop semiochemicals (pheromones, kairomones, plant volatiles, and other attractants and repellants) of significant insect crop pests (such as harlequin bug, bagrada bug, spotted wing drosophila, striped cucumber beetle, kudzu bug) and their natural enemies for use in integrated pest management. Subobjective 1a: Develop attractant volatiles and trap designs to monitor and manage the harlequin bug. Subobjective 1b: Assess known stink bug attractants for value in monitoring and/or managing bagrada bug. Subobjective 1c: Identify plant volatiles that attract squash bugs. Subobjective 1d: Identify plant and/or insect volatiles for detection and attraction of kudzu bug. Subobjective 1e: Improve lures for spotted wing drosophila by identification of fruit-based attractants. Subobjective 1f: Synthesize and test aggregation pheromone in combination with baits and traps for striped cucumber beetle management. Objective 2: Develop arthropod biological controls for managing key vegetable pests such as stink bugs, squash bug, and cucumber beetles, including integration of natural enemies with other tactics such as microbial control, semiochemicals, and cultural pest controls. Subobjective 2a: Evaluate the efficacy of the squash bug natural enemy complex for use in pest management and identify the most effective biological control agents. Subobjective 2b: Assess the value of native egg parasitoids to suppress BMSB. Objective 3: Advance effective microbial controls for key crop pests such as stink bugs, noctuid moths, and other seedling pests, including discovery of molecular and ecological mechanisms for sustained field reproduction and persistence, using diverse Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) strains, Chromobacterium spp., baculoviruses, and other entomopathogens. Subobjective 3a. Discover additional environmental isolates of C. subtsugae and related species, and characterize their insecticidal properties. Subobjective 3b. Determine ability of Bt strains to persist in common vegetable mulches. Subobjective 3c. Develop effective baculoviruses for key pest diamondback moth. Objective 4: Discover naturally occurring biopesticides (such as botanical compounds and/or RNAis) targeting key vegetable pests such as stink bugs and cucumber beetles. Objective 5: Determine and strengthen the genetic basis of plant defense mechanisms (e.g., pest aversion and resistance) for protection of high-value crops such as cole crops on small farms or gardens against destructive insects, and determine the influence of the microflora of pest insects and/or plants on the plant defense response. Subobjective 5a: Determine the effect of knocking out or over-expressing the infestation responsive TF StZFP2 in its native species, and in Arabidopsis. Subobjective 5b: Determine how infestation inducible Q-type C2H2 TFs affect resistance to pest insects in Arabidopsis and B. oleracea. Subobjective 5c: Determine the influence of plant and insect microflora on the infestation response of Arabidopsis to T. ni.

The project brings together a research team with diverse expertise for multiple approaches to insect management. The proposed project will focus on control of key insect pests in small farms and urban gardens, both organic and non-organic. Bio-based integrated pest management approaches to be developed will include: (i) discovery and deployment of natural insect attractants and repellents; (ii) conservation and augmentation of beneficial insects including use of their semiochemicals; (iii) pest-specific microbial controls [bacteria (including Bacillus thuringiensis strains and Chromobacterium spp.) and baculoviruses]; and, (iv) crop genetic resistance using molecular-based gene discovery. Research will target insect pests that cause major damage to key crops such as cucurbits and cole crops, although other important crops such as small fruit, beans, and potatoes may receive attention for specific problems. The combination of semiochemical approaches, biological controls, molecular techniques, and crop resistance, will offer a range of non-chemical tactics useful to integrated pest management strategies for major crop pests in urban small farms and gardens.