Location: Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Unit
Project Number: 8010-22000-033-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated
Start Date: Jul 2, 2020
End Date: Jul 1, 2025
Objective 1: Discover, identify, characterize the biology, evaluate the efficacy (using native-range studies and host-range specificity testing in quarantine), and determine the physiological, behavioral, and ecological basis of the host range of exotic predators and parasitoids as classical biological control agents of invasive arthropod pests of agricultural crops, with a focus on BMSB and SWD. [NP304, C1, PS1A; C3, PS3A, 3B and 3C] Sub-objective 1A: Discovery Sub-objective 1B: Characterization and identification Sub-objective 1C: Evaluation and risk assessment Objective 2: Improve understanding of biological and environmental factors and processes that influence the successful establishment of introduced biological control agents, such as climate adaptation, release methodologies, genetic variation in source and founder populations, using natural enemies of current target pests as model systems. [NP304, C1, PS1A; C3, PS3A, 3B and 3C] Sub-objective 2A: Conduct laboratory studies of basic biology and behavior to enable continuous laboratory rearing, including mass production when needed for eventual field releases. Sub-objective 2B: Conduct laboratory and field studies of selected biological traits and ecological requirements that influence the establishment and efficacy of the target biological control agents under field conditions. Objective 3: Prepare (with collaborators when appropriate) petitions to regulatory agencies for field release of candidate agents, conduct field releases for establishment of new agents, and monitor and evaluate the impact of the natural enemies on target populations and on non-target species in the field. Sub-objective 3A: Develop and submit a petition for release that describes the importance of the target pest and the efficacy and safety of the candidate biocontrol agent; and participate in the regulatory decision process as needed. Sub-objective 3B: Conduct field releases for establishment of new biological control agents and monitor and evaluate the impact of these natural enemies on target pest populations and on non-target species in the field. [NP304, C1, PS1A; C3, PS3A 3B and 3C]
Classical (importation) biological control is a pest management technology that is environmentally safe and sustainable. This project focuses on discovery, evaluation, and establishment of classical biological control agents of selected agricultural pests in the U.S. Previous research continued into this project addresses as targets brown marmorated stink bug and spotted wing drosophila. New targets may be added at any time according to national need. To address objective (1) we will conduct foreign exploration in Asia and other regions as needed to discover, identify and evaluate the biology, ecology, and efficacy of exotic predators and parasitoids as classical biological control agents of the targeted pests. Agents discovered in exploration will be returned to our laboratory and identified using the best available morphological characters in conjunction with molecular sequence data, and evaluated in our quarantine facility for efficacy by measuring attack rates, reproductive output and development rates, and for host specificity by testing both close relatives to target hosts and progressively more distantly related species under choice and no-choice conditions. Objective (2) will address the role of various biological, behavioral and environmental factors such as climate and photoperiod or inherent genetic variability in determining establishment success, using parasitoids of current target pests as the model subjects. Research will be conducted in environmental growth chambers and, when feasible, with in-field experiments. To address objective (3) we will prepare petitions for field release of qualified candidate agents of all target pests determined to be both effective and safe, based on satisfactory results of evaluation studies. These will be submitted to technical advisory panels and APHIS, in collaboration with relevant project partners as necessary. Supplemental research will be conducted to provide additional information if requested by APHIS. Once permits are received we will participate with cooperators as needed in conducting releases and post-release monitoring of the natural enemies. Where possible the releases will be designed to compare different geographic populations or genetic accessions of the agent for differences in climate adaptation, efficacy or other behavioral characteristics.