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CPHST Otis Laboratory

CPHST Otis Lab, Otis ANGB, Massachusetts

Location: 1398 W. Truck Rd., Otis Air National Guard Base, Buzzards Bay, MA
Phone: (508) 563-0900
Fax: (508) 563-0903
Contact: Scott Pfister

The Otis Lab’s mission is to identify, develop, and transfer technology for survey, exclusion, control, and risk assessment for APHIS and its cooperators. The lab serves a wide variety of PPQ programs that include: exotic pest-detection programs, phytosanitary treatments, and emergency response and eradication programs for ALB, LBAM, AGM, emerald ash borer (EAB), Sirex noctilio woodwasp, European grapevine moth (EGVM), and other pests. Otis personnel identify high risk exotic pests and develop survey technology to facilitate the early detection of introductions. The lab continues to support PPQ’s gypsy moth program by developing molecular methods to distinguish among subspecies of gypsy moth; producing the gypsy moth virus product, Gypchek; and helping ensure the quality of gypsy moth lures. Additional work is focused on the development of regulatory treatments for various commodities and means of their conveyance, such as pallets and containers. The Otis Lab is developing rearing systems for EAB, S. noctilio, and the winter moth.

To fulfill its mission, Otis Lab personnel maintain cooperative relationships with ARS, USDA’s Forest Service, universities, and private industry. These cooperative arrangements extend to government organizations and universities in a number of foreign locations, including Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and South Africa. The work includes developing methods to monitor and exclude AGM from North America, predicting the invasiveness of organisms by assessing damage on expatriate North American plants in foreign locations, developing and evaluating attractants, and developing control techniques for targeted exotic pests.

Recent Accomplishments

Pest Detection

  • A wood borer attractant project funded by Farm Bill has identified attractants for over 100 species of Cerambycids. Specific information on attractants for Cerambycids and the exotic Buprestid, Agrilus biguttatus, has been conveyed to the CAPS program for incorporation in the wood borer survey.
  • About 70,000 pheromone dispensers were prepared and distributed to participants in CAPS and national surveys.
  • Multi-species and multi-use traps were tested in domestic locations on a number of target pest insects with successful outcomes. As final results are available, the appropriate programs will be advised on the use of these traps.
  • A risk based model for emerald ash borer detection trapping is in its second year of pilot testing with positive results.

Diagnostic Tools

  • Developed 13 DNA markers for identifying points of origin and pathways of intercepted gypsy mothss. These markers are now used on specimens intercepted on ships and in port surveys in addition to screening using the standard suite of markers. Many additional markers are now being screened to provide more precision and certainty about point of origin and flight ability of females.
  • New ALB detections near existing infested areas are being examined with molecular diagnostics to determine if these are the result of new introductions or the result of natural spread. This will allow the ALB program to make appropriate operational decisions.
  • In a port monitoring project, immature wood borers intercepted in wood packing material from six ports are being reared to the adult stage. The adults are identified and used to generate a DNA barcode for the intercepted species. DNA analysis can then be used to identify future interceptions of larval wood borers, which are usually unidentifiable by standard means.

Asian Longhorned Beetle

  • Traps and new lures for ALB are being evaluated in the 2013 field season in Ohio and in China.
  • Provided the ALB program with new recommendations on host tree susceptibility to ALB attack and utilization. A new host list was provided and additional tree species are under investigation. Potential inclusion or exclusion of these species will have major impacts on the use of resources for survey and treatment.
  • Provided a final report to the PPQ on the long term economic and ecological impact of ALB on the 19 eastern states with hardwood forests. Thhis report provides PPQ with an economic basis to justify its efforts to eradicate ALB.
  • Provide an analysis on the utility of using detector dogs for ALB survey.
  • Delivered a recommendation on the utility of using the current trap/lure combination for ALB survey.
  • Delivered a technical working group report on the Ohio ALB infestation with recommendations for the ALB program.
  • Provided technical advice to the ALB program on the movement of wood from the regulated areas and disposal of wood and wood waste. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, this allowed the ALB program to safely move wood and wood waste out of the quarantine areas.

Emerald Ash Borer

  • A new trap design for the emerald ash borer has been developed and this information transferred to the program. Field test results in showed this trap to be superior to the current prism trap.
  • The new EAB trap design is being tested in foreign locations and preliminary results has shown great promise for its utility for trapping other Agrilus species of concern. We expect this to become an integral part of the wood borer survey programs.
  • Updated protocols for release and evaluation of parasitoid releases in the EAB biocontrol program, and provided a summary and evaluation of the previous releases that assisted in establishing the direction of the future program.
  • Completed non-target host screening on a new imported Russian/Korean parasitoid, Spathius galinae, of emerald ash borer and applied for release permits. This species is better suited to colder northern areas of the U.S. and is expected to contribute significant mortality to EAB populations.
  • Discovered two additional EAB parasite species in the Russian Far East and are in the process of bringing colonies to the Otis quarantine facility for non-target testing.
  • Developed methods to determine the establishment, spread and parasitism levels of EAB parasitoids, including protocols for use of yellow pan traps and tree sampling. Also developed methods to assess ash stand health, including transect survey protocols for monitoring ash regrowth. These methods were developed in Michigan in cooperation with ARS, USDA Forest Service, and Wayne State University and are now being transferred to cooperators in other states.

European Grapevine Moth

  • Delivered a technical working group report for the EGVM program. The report provides direction and methodology for the successful conclusion of this program.
  • Delivered recommendations on traps that can be used when a mating disruption regimen for EGVM is in place.

Asian Gypsy Moth/Gypsy Moth

  • Supported the AGM exclusion program through participation in bilateral meetings in Japan and Korea. Conducted cooperative work in AGM source countries to define the range, the population pressure, and the behavior of AGM adults. These consultations and the technical input have resulted in a strengthened offshore inspection/certification program for AGM.


  • Transferred technology for the application and use of the parasitic nematode, Deladenus siricidicola to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture for control of Sirex noctilio populations.

Phytosanitary Treatments

  • Provided technical information on radio frequency and microwave treatment to the International Plant Protection Convention(IPPC) for consideration as alternative treatments to treat wood packing material. These were accepted in spring 2013.   Previously the only two treatments allowed under the ISPM-15 standard were methyl bromide fumigation and conventional heat treatment.
  • Provided technical data to support a change in the ISPM -15 heat treatment standard and the heat treatment of domestic movement of wood to 60°C for 60 minutes to permit safe movement of regulated wood and wood products.
  • Provided technical advice to the EAB program on the movement of wood from infested area. This has allowed regulated material to move from EAB quarantined areas.
  • Developed effective new phytosanitary cold treatments for the Oriental fruit fly Bactrocera invadens, and the peach fruit fly, Bactrocera zonata. These treatments will allow trade in fruit from areas know to be infested with these pests.
  • Developed and delivered methyl bromide fumigation schedules for the pathogen and beetle involved in thousand cankers disease. This treatment has permitted movement of walnut wood from infested areas. We are also working toward development of a new treatment that does not use methyl bromide.
  • Successfully tested vacuum steam treatments for use on veneer logs in shipping containers. Continuing work will focus on other applications including firewood and other commodities.
  • Represented PPQ on the IPPC forestry panel. This has provided for changes in IPPC's ISPM 15 both in terms of new treatments and on the allowable bark component on solid wood packing material.
  • Developed three space spray schedules for use in cargo holds and containers to disinfest for Japanese beetle and other flying hitchhikers using replacements for 10% d-phenothrin, which is no longer registered.


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