Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Research Project #443755

Research Project: Integrated Management of Arthropods of Medical and Veterinary Importance and Other Invasive Insect Pests of Agricultural Importance

Location: European Biological Control Laboratory

Project Number: 0212-22000-030-014-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 1, 2023
End Date: Jun 17, 2024

Vector-borne diseases—those transmitted to people by insects and ticks—have become significantly more common and widespread in the US in the past decade. Reported cases of diseases caused by infected ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas tripled from 2004 to 2016, with nearly 100,000 cases reported in 2016. This increase has been fueled by many factors, including changes in climate that have enhanced the abundance or distribution of insects and ticks resulting in a growing US public-health challenge. The objective of this NACA is to conduct research on the surveillance and control of arthropods of medical and veterinary importance (such as mosquitoes, sand flies, and ticks) and the pathogens they vector originating from Europe that threaten US agricultural ecosystems, natural ecosystems, human and animal health. An integrated vector management (IVM) approach will be taken to address several vector-borne pathogens (such as different stains of West Nile virus) concurrently, because many vectors can transmit more than one pathogen and some interventions are effective against several vectors. Research may also focus (depending on availability of funding) on invasive pests of agricultural importance that have been identified as priority targets by the ARS National Program Staff.

This project will aim to a) improve methods for detecting and monitoring vector populations and pathogen circulation within vectors with a focus on arboviral disease transmission (West Nile virus) and b) assess the impact of novel vector control technologies under the umbrella of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for better protection of human health, ecosystems and wildlife. Research will involve designing and implementing field-based vector/pathogen surveillance in collaboration with partners with the aim to increase sensitivity and accuracy of those systems, while minimizing costs. Laboratory-based experiments will be conducted in parallel to develop and optimize genetic tools for the accurate identification of relevant arbovirus-vectors. Vector control tools developed by ARS-EBCL scientists will be tested on the field against vectors. Efficacy will be assessed by determining vector abundance and pathogen circulation levels pre- and post- treatments. Exploration for natural enemies of invasive pests of medical and veterinary importance shall also be conducted depending on the availability of funds.