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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Biological Control of Pests Research » Research » Research Project #430071

Research Project: Production and Deployment of Natural Enemies for Biological Control of Arthropod Pests

Location: Biological Control of Pests Research

Project Number: 6066-22000-086-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Nov 8, 2015
End Date: Nov 7, 2020

Objective 1: Discover new biological control agents for invasive insect pests, especially invasive hemipterans, such as the bagrada bug and the kudzu bug. Objective 2: Develop practical, mass rearing methods for agriculturally important insects, especially insect pests needed for the production of their natural enemies (such as stink bugs), insect biological control agents (such as predatory pentatomids and coccinellids), and insects potentially important as a food supply for animals and humans (such as mealworms and crickets). Sub-objective 2A: Develop a reliable method for continuous production of the green stink bug Nezara viridula. Sub-objective 2B: Study new methods to produce extracts from the yellow mealworm Tenebrio molitor and the house cricket Acheta domesticus and incorporate them into artificial diets for the predators Podisus maculiventris and Coleomegilla maculata. Sub-objective 2C: Evaluate agricultural by-products as sources of food for the production of Tenebrio molitor and Acheta domesticus. Objective 3: Develop effective biological control strategies for insect pests of crops grown under cover (e.g. high tunnels and greenhouses).

Climate matching software will be used to determine the most likely locations of natural enemy adapted populations across native ranges of M. cribraria and B. hilaris. The USDA-ARS European Biological Control Laboratory near Montpellier, France, will play a key role regarding parasitoid introductions of B. hilaris from many regions of Asia and Africa. Scientists at the university in Japan will make additional collections across the geographic range of the host within Japan. Scientists at USDA-ARS-IIRU, Newark, DE, will provide his host specificity expertise and make his Asian contacts available for the Kudzu Bug project. Development of artificial diets for N. viridula will be approached by detailed chemical analyses of plant foods suitable for development and reproduction of N. viridula approximating their nutritional requirements. Artificial diets will be formulated to replicate the concentration and ratios of major nutritional components of broccoli, green lima beans and raw peanuts, which have been used to rear N. viridula. Diets will be compared to natural food sources broccoli, green snow peas, and raw peanuts plus a nutrient supplement previously developed (unpublished). Rearing conditions other than diet, such as optimal rearing density and adult reproductive curves, will also be studied. Extracts of T. molitor larvae and pupae and A. domesticus nymphs will be produced by freeze-drying them at -25ºC and by spray drying of homogenized insects. Dry samples will be ground to particles of at least 30 µm. Extracts produced from dried T. molitor pupae will be used to produce artificial diet formulations for C. maculata. The diet formulations will be compared on their suitability to produce quality predators using life table analysis of C. maculata. The formulations will also be compared to a control consisting of natural food. The same procedure will be used for artificial diet formulations for P. maculiventris. Four different types of agricultural by products will be tested as viable options to formulate diets for T. molitor and A. domesticus. 1) Peanut shells, 2) corn cobs, 3) discarded cabbage, and 4) residual from corn fermentation for ethanol production. Each by-product will be chemically analyzed to determine the content of protein, lipid, and carbohydrate. Diets will be formulated by mixing ingredients with wheat bran at different ratios depending of their nutrient content based on the chemical analyses. Diets will be evaluated by determining and comparing immature survival, development time and the efficiency of food conversion for each of the two species of insects. Release and evaluation techniques for lady beetles as predators of strawberry will be develop and evaluated. This study will involve (A) testing the effectiveness of augmentative releases of lady beetles to control aphids in high tunnels, (B) testing the predation potential of larvae in the presence of aphid-tending ants in the laboratory and in high tunnels, and (C) testing the assertion that molecules in wax filaments on the cuticle of S. creperus larvae subdue ant aggression.