Vic Mastro, Otis Lab Director
Rick Zink, Fort Collins and Phoenix Lab Director
Pat Gomes, Fruit Fly Program Coordinator
Ken Bloem, Biological Control Coordinator
Light Brown Apple Moth
The light brown apple moth (LBAM) , Epiphyas postvittana, was detected and confirmed in Alameda County, CA, in March 2007. If left uncontrolled, LBAM could cause significant damage to many different crops, including stone fruits, pome fruits, grapes, and citrus. CPHST chairs a Technical Working Group of scientists from the United States, Australia, and New Zealand to look at potential eradication/control options, develop management recommendations and research needs, and provide ongoing scientific input to program operations. In 2009, CPHST established a rearing facility in California to develop sterile insect release technology for LBAM, conduct experiments, and support the control and management goals of the program. In November of 2009, the first release of irradiated sterile adult LBAM occurred in Napa County. Initial results are encouraging and 4 additional rearing units were delivered and installed at the California facility. (Contact Mike Stefan)
Fruit Fly Introductions
The APHIS exotic fruit fly program prevents the establishment of these significant pests of fruits and vegetables through early detection, offshore programs to reduce introduction pressure, release of sterile flies in high risk areas of the U.S., and rapid and effective response to introductions. CPHST plays a vital role in ensuring the effective and efficient implementation of these activities. Studies on ecology, chemical control, detection methodology, and sterile insect release for Medfly has led to the implementation of the very successful Gradual Advance Plan in Guatemala moving the pest further from the U.S. border . Quality assurance efforts and new technologies for emergence has saved significant funds in California for use on emergencies and allowed expansion of the sterile release area in Florida. CPHST also chaired a review of the Mexican fruit fly eradication program in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. (Contact Mike Stefan)
Emerald Ash Borer Biological Control
The emerald ash borer (EAB) is a non-native wood-boring beetle that is devastating ash trees in the north-central United States. Since its discovery in Michigan in 2002, APHIS, in conjunction with state, local, and other federal agencies, led an aggressive campaign to slow the spread of this pest with quarantines, surveys, tree removal, and public outreach programs. In spite of these efforts, the range of EAB has expanded to 14 states due to natural spread and accidental introductions. In order to control the pest, the CPHST Otis Lab has been working together with the FS and ARS to implement an EAB biological control program. To date, three parasitoids highly specific to EAB have been identified from China, evaluated in the laboratory, and have been released in small plots in Michigan. CPHST is supporting a mass-rearing operation in Michigan in order to facilitate wide-spread field releases of the parasitoids. Additional parasitoids from Korea and the Russian Far East have subsequently been found and are under evaluation by CPHST scientists.
Sirex Woodwasp Biological Control
The sirex woodwasp was discovered in New York in 2005. Since the first discovery, the wasp has been detected in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Michigan, and in Ontario, Canada. Sirex has the potential to cause great harm to native pine forests as well as severe economic losses for the lumber industry. Scientists from the CPHST Otis Lab have been conducting controlled release experiments of the nematode biocontrol agent, Beddingia siricidicola. CPHST also led a technical working group to discuss pest status and spread, survey, control, and research needs. CPHST, working together with Forest Service, continues to develop survey tools and evaluate the effectiveness of the biological control agent and its relationship with native species for open field releases.
Asian Citrus Psyllid Biological Control
The Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Diaphorina citri, is the primary vector of the bacterium that causes Huanglongbing or greening disease, which is one of the most important diseases of citrus world-wide. Tamarixia radiata is recognized as the most important natural enemy of ACP in several geographic areas around the world. Collections of a strain of T. radiate from Punjab, Pakistan, were recently received into the PPQ Arthropod Quarantine Laboratory in Mission, Texas. Pending completion of host specificity testing required for permitting for environmental release, the Punjab strain will be used as a biological control tool to support area-wide ACP management in Texas and other states where ACP is established. Host specificity testing against native psyllids in California is necessary before release permits for that state will be granted. The CPHST Mission Lab submitted samples of ACP adults and host-plant material to the Texas Citrus Center in Weslaco to test for Huanglongbing disease. Testing and negative results were required in order to ship ACP to the quarantine facility in Riverside, California, to support host range testing there.
Green Treatments for Rangeland Grasshoppers and Mormon Crickets
The CPHST Phoenix Lab continues to partner with the ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory, Utah State University and the APHIS-PPQ Western Region to discover and develop candidate fungal pathogens for use against rangeland grasshoppers and Mormon crickets. The Western Region provides soil samples taken during routine field surveys. Utah State University processes the samples and screens them for new isolates of Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium anisopliae and Metarhizium acridum. Both Utah State University and ARS scientists evaluate the strains in the laboratory for potential activity. The group then selects the most promising isolates for CPHST scientists working together with ARS and USU in the field to evaluate their efficacy under more natural conditions.
Cactus Mealybug Biological Control
The cactus mealybug ( Hypogeococcus pungens) is a pest that is devastating endangered cactus species in Puerto Rico and could threaten similar species in the Western U.S. PPQ has been working with the University of Puerto Rico to develop a quarantine facility to test biological control agents. They are currently testing a new species of parasitic wasp that was found attacking the mealybug in Barbados. The mealybug has been known to occur throughout Florida since 1984, but it has a very limited host range and appears not to be a significant pest. University of Florida Tropical Research Education Center and CPHST scientists discovered multiple biological control agents attacking the cactus mealybug in Florida. Several predatory beetles and a primary parasitoid, Gyranusoidea pseudococci, were found widely distributed across Florida and are likely proving good biological control of the pest. The Florida and Barbados natural enemies may work as classical biological control agents against the cactus mealybug in Puerto Rico.
European Grapevine Moth
EGVM, Lobesia botrana, is a significant pest primarily of grapes in areas outside of the U.S. where it is established. In the fall of 2009, EGVM was detected in California. Survey activity has shown that the moth is present in several grape producing counties in California. A CPHST led Technical Working Group provides information and feedback on issues regarding trapping, lures, mating disruption, treatment and hosts. During 2010, effect of treatments and population limiting strategies, along with matching phenology to predicted generations will be assessed in order to further optimize the management of prevention of spread of EGVM in and outside California. CPHST is producing lures and monitoring survey activities through the course of the growing season to detect and delimit EGVM in and around production areas.