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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Research Project #439455

Research Project: Sustainable Insect Pest Management for Urban Agriculture and Landscapes

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-22000-315-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 26, 2020
End Date: Oct 25, 2025

Objective 1: Discover, characterize, develop and/or promote field adoption of pheromones and other behavior-modifying semiochemicals of key vegetable and fruit insect pests such as cucumber beetles, crucifer flea beetles, stink bugs, squash bugs, and spotted-wing drosophila. Objective 2: Characterize and evaluate native and non-native biological control agents for management of key vegetable pests such as stink bugs, squash bugs, & leaf-footed bugs. Objective 3: Decipher genomes, biochemical and molecular processes of invasive insect pests in order to mitigate damage by crop and landscape pests, such as stink bugs, gypsy moth, and other invasive species. Objective 4: Discover and develop microbial and molecular-based biopesticide agents for control of invasive forest and crop insect pests such as gypsy moth and true bugs, and including model species for evaluation. Objective 5: Utilize molecular approaches to enhance plant defense against destructive insect pests by manipulating the plant defense pathways and insect microflora with a focus on cole crop pests such as those of cabbage and broccoli.

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, urban gardens and landscapes, both organic and non-organic. Biobased 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; (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. Research will also include insect pests that cause major damage to woody plants in the urban landscape. 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 pests in small farms, urban gardens and landscapes.