Center for Plant Health Science and Technology
Biological Control Program
Location: 1730 Varsity Dr., Suite 400,
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 855-7407
Fax: (919) 855-7480
Contact: Ken Bloem
The CPHST Biological Control Program is a virtual team of 14-18 scientists located at various CPHST Laboratories and Plant Protection Stations. The Program focuses on developing technologies that allow living biological organisms, such as natural enemies and competitors, to mitigate the impacts of introduced, invasive insect pests, weeds, and plant pathogens, while minimizing impacts on the environment and non-target organisms.
CPHST scientists provide technical oversight and expertise to programs to ensure that scientific knowledge gaps are identified and addressed, cooperators deliver needed services, and implementation protocols and educational materials are effectively developed and transferred to stakeholders as quickly as possible. More specifically they provide permitted biocontrol agents collected from established field insectaries for distribution by PPQ and other project cooperators, develop new rearing and monitoring systems, and work to ensure the safety of biocontrol agents by conducting both pre- and post-release impact studies.
Asian Citrus Psyllid
CPHST Mission developed protocols for mass-production of Tamarixia radiata, a parasitoid of ACP, using a field insectary cage approach. In addition, new strains/collections of T. radiata from Pakistan, Guangxi, Guangdong, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong were established in quarantine and host range testing initiated.
Harrisa Cactus Mealybug
The harrisa cactus mealybug is a serious pest of columnar cacti. It is established in Florida but appears to be under good biological control. In Puerto Rico it is causing significant damage to the endemic and endangered columnar cacti of the Guánica Dry Forest Reserve. CPHST Mission and Miami conducted surveys in Florida, Puerto Rico, and Barbados and found a parasitoid wasp attacking the pest that may serve as a classical biological control agent.
Red Palm Weevil
CPHST Miami determined distribution, population densities, survey methodologies, control options, and impact of the red palm weevil, a recently introduced pest of palms in Aruba and Curacao. Results of these studies were used to develop the New Pest Response Guidelines for this pest. These recommendations are now being used to combat the red palm weevil infestation recently detected in southern California.
Emerald Ash Borer
CPHST Otis continued to evaluate the establishment, spread, and impact of exotic parasitoids being released for EAB control in cooperation with scientists from USDA’s Forest Service and ARS. The three species of Oobius, Spathius, and Tetrastichus were found to have successfully overwintered at sites in Michigan, Ohio, and Maryland. CPHST Otis also discovered and initiated studies of new natural enemies from South Korea and the Russian Far East.
Mediterranean Fruit Fly
CPHST Guatemala continued to conduct field tests to evaluate and optimize combined releases of the egg-parasitoid Fopius ceratitivorous and sterile Medflies. Ground releases of the parasitoid alone suggested that Medfly populations could be reduced by 40-60%. Results from combined releases are still being analyzed in an effort to establish a recommended release density of the parasitoid.
Light Brown Apple Moth
The LBAM Unit is collaborating with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to assess the ability of the egg parasitoid Trichogramma platneri to suppress LBAM populations alone and in combination with sterile moth releases. Field cage tests suggested that both techniques have potential for LBAM control.
Grasshoppers and Mormon Crickets
CPHST Ft. Collins and Phoenix, in a continuing joint effort with ARS and Utah State University, initiated field studies on several domestic strains of fungal pathogens, Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana, for control of grasshoppers and Mormon crickets. In addition, CPHST Phoenix applied for permits to release and evaluate the exotic biopesticides Green Guard from Australia and Green Muscle from Africa, which are based on different strains of M. anisopliae.
Imported Fire Ant
CPHST Gulfport continued to coordinate the APHIS-funded IFA Phorid Fly (Pseudacteon spp.) rearing and release program. In 2010, multiple releases of a third fly species, P. obtusus and production rearing of a fourth species, P. cultellatus,were initiated. The first 2 species, P. tricuspis and P. curvatus are now established in more than 50% of the IFA quarantined area.
CPHST Ft. Collins and the Albany work unit continued work on optimization of a rearing system for Cyphocleonus achetes, a root feeding weevil used for biological control of knapweeds. Studies indicated that stockpiling adults in reproductive diapauses may be possible for up to 3 months by manipulating light cycles.
A colony of the new Russian knapweed biological control agent, the gall midge Jaapiella ivannikovi, was initiated at the Ft. Collins Laboratory . Overwintering and establishment of the midge at previous release sites in Wyoming and Montana were confirmed and new releases were made at several sites in Colorado.
Perennial Pepperweed and Canada Thistle
CPHST Ft. Collins initiated host specificity testing of a new race of white rust Albugo candida attacking perennial pepperweed from collections made in Colorado and California, and facilitated a survey for fungal pathogens of Canada thistle in northwestern China through a cooperative agreement with CABI Europe-Switzerland.