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Gregory S Wheeler

Research Entomologist

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"Taking lunch while surveying aquatic weeds."

Left to right: Dr. Wheeler of USDA ARS IPRL stationed in Florida, Willie Cabrera-Walsh the Director of South American Biological Lab (FuEDEI) stationed in Argentina, Andy Sheppard the Team leader of Biodiversity Theme at CSIRO stationed in Australia, and Matt Purcell the Director of the Australian Biological Control Lab stationed in Australia.


Dr. Wheeler has been a research entomologist for 30 years at the USDA/ARS Invasive Plant research lab in Davie, FL. In this role he is currently working to develop biological control of the invasive weeds Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolia), Chinese tallowtree (Triadica sebifera), cogon grass (Imperata cylindrica), and  Old-world climbing fern Lygodium microphyllum. In this capacity, research has been conducted at all stages of program development including overseas exploration for new agents, quarantine host range testing, and release and evaluation of permitted agents. Dr. Wheeler will be the Acting Research Leader for USDA-ARS-IPRL from October 1st until December 31, 2022.

Dr. Wheeler received a B.A. in Biology with an emphasis in Botany at Central Washington University, a M.S. in Entomology from the University of Idaho and a Ph.D. in Entomology and Nematology from the University of Florida. He joined the USDA, ARS Invasive Plant Research Lab as a postdoctoral research associate in 1992. Dr. Wheeler has worked closely with natural areas land managers and developed strong ties with international and national collaborators. Dr. Wheeler has published over 140 refereed journal articles and been the PI or CO-PI on over $3.5 million during the previous 5 years for research sponsored by local, state, and federal environmental sources. He has worked with numerous students, postdocs and a Fulbright Scholar that have gone on to careers in environmental sciences.

Dr. Wheeler has been an active researcher in many fields of entomology in support biological control of weeds including insect feeding physiology, insect/plant interactions, chemical ecology, toxicology. Dr. Wheeler developed research to examine the semiochemical and nutritional factors that limit weed biological control agents. He conducted foreign exploration in South America, China, and Australia discovering numerous new potential biological control agents of various invasive weeds of environmental concern. Once identified, promising agents were introduced under quarantine and tested for safety. Some of his accomplishments include the first biological control agent for Brazilian peppertree, a thrips Pseudophilothrips ichini  was released on the US mainland in 2019. Since its initial release, over 2,000,000 thrips have been mass produced and released in the invaded range. Moreover, this agent has become established at about 60 % of the release sites in Florida. Two agents, the root feeding and defoliating beetle, Bikasha collaris and a defoliating moth Gadirtha fusca are in the final stages of permitting against Chinese tallowtree. These agents will safely assist in the management of these invasive species and decrease the pesticide use needed for their control.


Read more about his projects at Research Gate or see his Google Scholar site