S1058: Biological Control of Arthropod Pests and Weeds

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Active

S1058: Biological Control of Arthropod Pests and Weeds

Duration: 05/01/2013 to 09/30/2017

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification


In the Southern Region of the US, arthropod pests and weeds (native and exotic) continue to negatively influence both agricultural and natural systems, and the growing emphasis on environmental and food safety issues has intensified interest in the development of cost-effective biological control approaches as a fundamental component of pest management. Biological control is classically defined as the "the action of parasites, predators, and pathogens in maintaining another organism's density at a lower level than would occur in the absence of the natural enemies" (DeBach 1964), and incorporates both natural biological (control is that brought about by indigenous natural enemies in the native range of a pest species) and applied biological control (importation, augmentation, and conservation). USDA-NIFA (2012) broadens the definition: the deliberate use of natural enemies - predators, parasites, pathogens, and competitors to suppress and maintain populations of a target pest species (insects, mites, weeds, plant pathogens, and other pest organisms). Despite differences in agreed upon definitions, the effective utilization of natural enemies in biological control programs is contingent upon understanding their ecology and that of their targets, their interaction with production practices, and the most effective means of using them.

Invasive pests continue to pose significant ecological and economic threats to natural and managed systems in the US and justify continued efforts in importation biological control (Frank and Fish 2008, Cuda 2009, Harwood and Parajulee 2010, Frank et al. 2011, Center for Invasive Species Management 2012). At the same time, target and non-target effects of these natural enemy introductions must be documented to assure the continued value and safety of importation biological control (McCoy and Frank 2010). Resident populations of natural enemies provide varying levels of pest suppression and therefore require continued long-term evaluation as ecological systems change following addition of exotic natural enemies (Mizell 2007). Ultimately, co-existence and effectiveness of resident and exotic natural enemies may require planned releases, but success of this approach is dependent on effective production, distribution, and release technologies for natural enemies (Van Driesche and Bellows 1996, Cuda et al. 2008).

Development and implementation of biological control programs are dependent upon effective communication and coordination of regionally-linked programs. Our multi-state research project is planned to enhance biological control of arthropod pests and weeds in the Southern Region of the US through collaboration among practitioners. This multi-state project (SDC351) provides a framework for pest target selection and coordinated research that focuses on pest / natural enemy complexes in the Southern Region.


The mild climate of the southern US supports a great diversity of pest arthropods and plants. This moderate climate coupled with extensive international exchange in the Region creates ideal circumstances for the incursion and persistence of injurious invasive species. The need for environmentally and economically sustainable production systems is growing as social pressure for safe food and fiber increases. Research priorities have been established by the Southern Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors (SAAESD 2012) and include: Development of more environmentally friendly profitable production systems that utilize sustainable weed and insect management strategies that protect the environment. Furthermore, development and utilization of biologically-based tactics are emphasized as the basis for comprehensive integrated pest management systems. This increased emphasis on biologically-based management tactics includes a major re-emphasis on biological control particularly for invasive species (USDA-NIFA 2012, USDA-APHIS 2013, USDA-Forest Service 2013).

Despite dramatic changes in pesticide technologies and widespread use of genetically modified resistant crops, pest pressure remains high and insecticide use has occasionally increased in rapidly changing agricultural systems (Lundgren et al. 2009, Giles et al. 2008, Giles and Walker 2009, Harwood and Parajulee 2010). More target specific and costly pesticides are being deployed and will likely add economic burdens to growers as combinations of pesticides will be needed to achieve results comparable to those formerly attained with conventional broad-spectrum materials. Clearly, the need for developing biological control programs for pests in a wide variety of situations is more acute than ever.

Invasive species can be exceptionally destructive in the Southern Region. Many high profile invasions have occurred with severe economic and ecological effects and the threat of new invasions in this region is persistent (Harwood and Parajulee 2010, Frank et al. 2011, Onken and Reardon 2011, Ted et al. 2012). Included in the lengthy list are accomplishments reported by scientists in the previous regional research project (S-1034): the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta; the B and Q biotypes of the sweet potato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci; tropical soda apple, Solanum viarum; hydrilla, Hydrilla verticillata; and the Formosan termite, Coptotermes formosanus (Goolsby et al. 2008, Overholt et al. 2009, Johnson et al. 2010, Copeland et al. 2011, USDA-National Agricultural Library 2013). The red imported fire ant invades many habitats, disturbing wildlife and native ants, damaging crops, disrupting extant biological control, and inflicting physical harm to humans and animals. The complete ecological and environmental costs of this ants damage have yet to be fully ascertained, but it is widely acknowledged that it is substantial, with estimates in excess of US $1 billion dollars per annum. Similarly, tropical soda apple is currently found in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and extensively in Florida. This spined plant is highly disruptive in grazing areas and is spreading across the southeastern US. Although its spread has been slowed by herbicide based eradication efforts, this work is dependent on the ability of individuals across the region and beyond to find and correctly identify the plants. Because tropical soda apple can also grow in uncultivated and isolated areas, there is reason to suspect that the plant is more widespread than is presently acknowledged. This situation with dispersed targets and risk of being undetected, is well suited to the use of biological control agents that have the capacity to locate plants independent of human intervention.

Invasive native pests also cause extensive damage in crops and other habitats. Management of these pests by natural enemies can provide benefits ranging well beyond the locations of immediate human concern, as well as providing more proximate assistance for pest managers. This can be particularly important for highly mobile and polyphagous species such as the tarnished plant bug, Lygus lineolaris, or the beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua. Further chemical treatment of infestations of natural areas by pests may not be economically or environmentally feasible. In these circumstances, biological control may be the only possible means of control. The advent of new technology, most notably transgenic insect resistant crops and increasingly selective herbicides, has created numerous opportunities to more adequately integrate biological control into crop production systems, particularly in the southern region (Lundgren et al. 2009, Obrycki et al. 2009, Harwood and Parajulee 2010). It has also enhanced the need for biological control, as new pests have emerged. For example, although the widespread use of Bt-transgenic cotton varieties has contributed to reduced insecticide inputs, it has also increased the problems with heteropteran pests (e.g., stink bugs, plant bugs, leaf-footed bugs) in the Southern US as insecticide spraying for lepidopteran pests has declined (Ruberson and Wickings 2008, Giles and Walker 2009). Thus, cotton producers are by necessity increasing their spray regimens to handle this new and difficult suite of pests. In addition, currently available selective insecticides are more costly and growers cannot always afford to target each individual or closely related species when the pest complex is diverse. Finally, transgenic crops may impact non-target natural enemies by directly reducing their fitness or through resource depletion (target or alternate pest decline), thus altering existing, successful natural enemy function. Development of biological control in low or targeted spray environments would be an invaluable component of IPM in these systems and would strengthen the sustainability and adoption of environmentally sound tools.

Evaluation of non-target effects is an essential element in the safe and effective implementation of any pest management tactic. Accordingly, as biological programs are developed, this project will evaluate the effects of established natural enemies on non-target organisms. These efforts will enable the development of a significant database to support meaningful risk assessment protocols for future biological control programs. For this project, it is anticipated that natural enemies will be discovered, targeted and evaluated for control of melaleuca, Brazilian peppertree, kudzu, tropical soda apple, water hyacinth, Chinese tallow, Chinese privet, knapweed, hydrilla, whiteflies, stink bugs, hygrophila, red palm mite, Hemlock wooly adelgid, tarnished plant bug, brown citrus aphid, bromeliad weevil, red imported fire ant, muscoid flies, mole crickets, and weevils. Understanding the interactions between pest management technology, conventional and novel, and natural enemies will lead to a more effective integration of biological control in pest management systems. Assessing lethal and sublethal effects of pesticides at the individual and population levels will permit effective integrated use of pesticides and biological control. In addition, quantifying the effect and interactions of indigenous natural enemies will permit the development of biologically based IPM programs for more sustainable crop/animal systems.

Related, Current and Previous Work

Current Multistate Research Projects from Northern and Southern regions address aspects of biological control (ex. NCERA-220, W-3185; NE-1032), some of which overlap with the Southern Region. However, many of the agricultural and natural environments among states across the Southern Region are similar in climate, and consequently these environments share common important pests (insects and weeds) and their natural enemies. S-1034 focused on plant/pest/natural enemy interactions that are of particular importance to the southern U. S., with its unique cropping systems and pest challenges and therefore this regional project was not duplicative of other regional projects.

The Southern Region has a strong record of research and implementation in biological control. The four predecessors of this Multistate Research Project tackled a variety of these problems and successfully affected various target pest populations in this region. The initial SR regional projects (S-192 and S-238) were focused primarily on importation biological control. The objectives of S-267 were broadened to reflect the widening interests in conservation and augmentation biological control in the Southern Region. The objectives of S-303 were expanded to incorporate novel technologies (e.g., transgenic varieties, cultural practices, selective pesticides) and needs (e.g., suppression of invasive species, alternative pest management tools, cost-effective and environmentally sound pest management) in the Southern Region. S-1034 built upon successes of past projects on biological control in the Southern Region and new technologies and emerging needs.

The primary goal SDC351 is to coordinate biological control research, education, and implementation in the Southern Region by addressing current and future needs in biological control integrate it with novel and expanding technologies relative to crop production and environmental protection. Coordinated regional efforts are fundamental to the success of this work, because many of the issues that will be addressed span large geographic areas and the extent of biological control efficacy may likewise vary across the region. Both formal and informal collaboration is inherent among the project participants, many of whom have worked together in previous regional projects for most of their careers. Examples of their collaboration include joint research projects and publications, grant and project reviews, information and equipment exchanges, extension and other kinds of training activities, and symposia at scientific societies (details of these accomplishments are available at the S-1034 Homepage: Publications and Reports: http://nimss.umd.edu/homepages/home.cfm?trackID=7456).

The accomplishments detailed on the previously referenced S-1034 Homepage include efforts in expanding biological controls targeting pests important to the entire region, to a portion of the region, and to just one or two states. A rich mix of region-wide cooperative research in concert with one-or-two investigator research is essential in a healthy regional project. Projects may cover only a few states due to the distribution of the agricultural crop or the pest (e.g., citrus pests and tropical weeds unique to FL and TX in the southern region, or arid rangeland pests unique to OK and TX). Additionally, single or dual-investigator research provides the necessary background and preliminary data to spawn wider regional cooperation, and increases the potential to develop teams successful in obtaining extramural funding. The most striking accomplishments involving pests affecting a large portion of the southern region include those associated with the red imported fire and the Hemlock woolly adelgid. Releases and successful establishment of new biological control agents (ant decapitating parasitic flies, Pseudacteon spp.) are having marked impacts in many locals (e.g., Johnson et al. 2010, Mészáros and Johnson 2010). Similarly, national efforts in identifying, rearing, releasing and evaluating the impact of released natural enemies of the Hemlock woolly adelgid have benefited from leadership of southern regional scientists, particularly in South Carolina and Tennessee. Confirmed establishment of the HWA coccinellids predator Sasajiscymnus tsugae in the Great Smoky Mountains (as well as other areas) holds great promise for increased control of this devastating pest (Grant et al. 2009, Grant et al., 2012). A number of accomplishments involving target pests with a smaller distribution across the southern region (e.g., invasive knapweeds in the northern areas of the region and the invasive tropical soda apple in the southern portion) are designed to slow the spread and lessen the impact of these damaging pests. Successful establishment of two knapweed biological control agents in Arkansas (Minteer 2012, Minteer et al. 2011) and one new tropical soda agent in Florida (Cuda 2010) indicate the upward trajectory of these efforts. Projects addressing region-wide native pests or management approaches also realized significant gains in the previous project, including conservation biological control of silverleaf whitefly (Legaspi et al. 2011) and azalea lace bugs (Nair and Braman 2012). Expansion of cooperative efforts beyond the US border by S-1034 cooperators also allows scientists to better anticipate and react to threats of introduced invasive species in both countries (e.g., Brazil, Culik et al. 2011, 2012). Cooperative efforts regarding larger issues in biological control, particularly risk assessment and changes in regulatory requirements also received considerable attention by S-1034 cooperators (e.g., Paraiso et al., 2012).

Pest management research in the Southern Region has a strong historical emphasis on biological control, and this is reflected in the associated expertise and excellent facilities. This emphasis continues today and is reflected in the number of active projects addressing biological control of arthropods and/or plants. Further participation in the project will be encouraged and likely achieved through direct contact with participants. Thus, there is considerable work on biological control under way in the Southern Region that underscores the continuing need for regional cooperation and coordination. This project provides an effective mechanism for continuing and expanding such integration efforts as has previously been established. It could also provide a means for surveying and communication the extensive range of ongoing research and extension activities.

The new project will incorporate many of the aspects (importation, conservation, evaluation, etc.) from previous projects but focus on cooperative biological control issues common or likely to be common across the Southern Region including: (1) stink bugs, (2) fire ants, (3) invasive weeds, (4) role of beneficial organisms in diverse landscapes, and (5) techniques for evaluating biological control programs and risk assessments. The membership includes a diversity of scientists from the participating states in the Southern Region ranging in expertise from taxonomy to applied field evaluations. Our stakeholders include farmers, land managers, homeowners, green industries, regulatory agencies, commodity groups, and the broader scientific community.


  1. Characterize and evaluate the effect of established natural enemies.
  2. Exploration, importation, and assessment of natural enemies for invasive pests.
  3. Implementation, evaluation, and enhancement (e.g., conservation) of biological control.


This project will address key problems by assessing biological control services and developing integrative multistate strategies that deliver improved pest management approaches to regulate a multitude of pest species. These projects will integrate techniques and technology, with education, to best assess the role of natural enemies in pest management. OBJECTIVE 1: Characterize and evaluate the effect of established natural enemies. Procedures: Evaluation of the current level of control afforded by extant or previously established natural enemies is an essential step in the deployment of a biological control project, particularly for pests that are already established in the southern region. Coordination established in the prior regional project (S1034) allowed investigators in the region to share results and plan research efforts which dovetail from other efforts without unnecessary overlap. For example, proposed research based on our prior studies (Mizell 2007) will address the impact of the exotic natural enemy Harmonia axyridis on target and incidental pest species as well as continue descriptive work on the impact of the beetle on other beneficial lady beetle populations. Both specialist and generalist natural enemies can play important roles in biological control. While specialist natural enemies have the advantage of close interrelationships with and specific adaptations to the pest, they have the weakness of inflexibility. In contrast, generalist natural enemies can readily adjust to environmental conditions and can take advantage of any prey or food resources available to them. Of course, it is this ability to utilize alternate prey that causes concern with some species that may disturb an unrelated food web. Thus, in the context of developing sustainable biological control strategies, it is the community of natural enemies that provide valuable service as opposed to individual species acting alone. This view of community organization of biological control agents has somewhat displaced the traditional view of specialists that act alone; indeed, the multitude of natural enemies interact in complex ways through both antagonistic and synergistic mechanisms. The role of these established natural enemies (both specialist and generalist) in providing valuable biological control service will be assessed in projects of regional significance. In addition to evaluation of Harmonia (KY, FL), similar characterization projects have been developed and will continue for aphid natural enemies (OK, KY) and tritrophic interactions with several generalist predators (GA and KY). Several research projects are expanding involvement across all southern regional states, most notably evaluation and characterization of true bug natural enemies (given the advent of invasive and invading bugs like the brown marmorated stink bug and kudzu bug). Similarly, regional cooperative projects continue to mature and characterize newly released fire ant natural enemies (AR, FL, GA, LA). Research under the previous project (S1034, Wiggins et al. 2010) describing the potential of non-target activity of natural enemies introduced for thistle control provides a framework for cooperative efforts in Tennessee and surrounding states (AR, KY, MS). Cooperative efforts are also underway and expanding in the western part of the region (OK and TX) to evaluate the impact of previously introduced and recently discovered natural enemies of saltcedar. A significant amount of characterization research is necessary for several target pests in the region that are the focus of management programs in just one or two states (due to their current distribution). These pests include the air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera), Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolius), Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense), Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera), cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica), giant Reed (Arundo donax), hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata), hygrophila (Hygrophila polysperma), Japanese Climbing fern (Lygodium japonicum), Kudzu (Pueraria montana), melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia), rattlebox (Sesbania punicea), skunkvine (Paederia foetida), tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum), water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and perhaps even mikania (Mikania micrantha) that was recently discovered in Florida. Project participants will meet annually to discuss progress as well as propose and refine research coordination (for all objectives). Additional emerging pest problems will also be discussed at the annual meeting and new project ideas developed in response to the growing need for multistate collaboration. The integration of laboratory, field and molecular approaches will be used to delineate the role of native and recently introduced natural enemies in biological control. Expected outcomes: These research efforts enhance our understanding of natural enemy  pest interactions, providing the framework for implementation of biological control. Characterization of synergistic and antagonistic interactions between natural enemies will enhance the knowledge for pest management approaches and identify those species likely to make the greatest in pest control. These studies also provide information to allow for a more careful selection of natural enemies to be screened in future release programs, provided that the introduction of new species is warranted. OBJECTIVE 2: Exploration, importation, and assessment of natural enemies for invasive pests. Procedures: There is an ongoing need to discover, import, and assess new biological control agents for many new and established invasive pests. Many of the target pests identified in Objective 1 will be the focus of multistate research and importation efforts in the southern region. The long-established working hypothesis is that there are natural enemies in the country of origin that can be imported and used to control non-indigenous pest species. To meet this need, foreign exploration and surveys will be conducted cooperatively to identify biological control agents in the home range of the pest species. Modern molecular methods using standard procedure will be used to identify countries of origin and biological control agent biotypes to maximize the likelihood of successful discovery and establishment of new natural enemies. The current economic climate, along with a renewed concern regarding the potential of non-target impacts of introduced natural enemies, have significantly reduced the number of projects targeting exotic, invasive pest species. Risk analyses (which include assessment of the economic and environmental risks of inaction) are an essential requirement to ensure that important importation programs are not hampered. For target pests with this analysis completed, promising natural enemies will be imported into quarantine facilities in the region for pre-release risk assessment and evaluation of production and biological characteristics. Risk assessment for weed control projects will follow the guidelines established by the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for Biological Control of Weeds. Risk assessment for projects with arthropod targets also will be conducted, and will include host range studies, screening for pathogens, evaluation of potential interference between arthropod and weed pest biocontrol agents, and discerning potential interactions among introduced and extant species utilizing the same target pest species. The largest projects in the southern region that involve continued foreign exploration, importation and pre-release assessment include efforts to manage the hemlock woolley adelgid (Grant et al. 2009) (TN, SC, northeastern regional states), red imported fire ant (AR, LA, FL, TX), and a new project to evaluate and begin releases of natural enemies of the Kudzu bug (AR, AL, MS, GA, LA, SC and TN). Furthermore, a number of very large projects developed in the previous regional research project (S1034 and its predecessor) continue to identify and evaluate new natural enemies for importation. The two most notable of these in the region are the projects targeting hydrilla and Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolius), which have both experienced significant success in a portion of infested regions. Expected outcomes: It is anticipated that a range of insect pests and weeds will be targeted, and natural enemies will be sought, and upon discovery and adequate testing, will be pursued as potential agents. Improvements in identifying home ranges of newly arrived invasive species will increase the likelihood of discovering biological control biotypes that are adapted to the target pest. The conduct of rigorous risk assessment will improve the acceptance of classical biological control by the regulatory and environmental communities, as well as the public. OBJECTIVE 3: Implementation, evaluation, and enhancement (e.g., conservation) of biological control. Procedures: Natural enemies that are deemed appropriate for field release from discovery and research in Objective 2 will be released into the target environments in the southern region. Furthermore, various cultural practices that enhance the action of extant natural enemies have become more popular and gained grower acceptance in the Southern Region. Among the most prominent of these are conservation tillage, cover crops, multiple cropping and crop rotation. These practices affect microhabitat, seasonal distribution of resources within the field, field architecture and microclimate. All of these factors affect the efficacy of natural enemies, as well as the abundance, timing and distribution of pest species within the field. Understanding how cultural practices interact with biological control also may yield opportunities to manipulate habitats to increase suitability for natural enemies. A great number of ongoing release programs have been developed under evaluation studies conducted in the prior regional research project (S1034). Examples of these projects targeting exotic, invasive weeds like spotted knapweed (Duguma et al. 2009, Minteer et al. 2011) and tropical soda apple (Overholt et al. 2009, Cuda 2010). Programs targeting important exotic insect pests across the southern region include releases of parasitoids for the red imported fire ant in AR, FL, GA, LA (e.g., Johnson et al. 2010) and hemlock woolly adelgid in several states (e.g., Hakeem et al. 2010). A new, large cooperative project facilitated by USDA-ARS (MS) researchers will involve evaluation and releases of approved natural enemies for the kudzu bug in all states potentially impacted by this exotic pest (AL, AR, LA, MS, SC, TN). Integration of pesticides or transgenic crops with natural enemies is becoming increasingly important, which necessitates the development of specific data on natural enemy-crop/pesticide interactions. The hypothesis is that pest management will be most effective and economical if a variety of compatible technologies are developed and employed, rather than attempting to use a single option. Current and novel pesticides and transgenic crops will be assayed in the laboratory, greenhouse and field. Assays will vary because of the diversity of the plants, pests, and natural enemies in the tests. Greenhouse studies will permit examination of pesticides and natural enemies under more natural, yet controlled circumstances and provide insights into population level studies conducted in the field. Field evaluations will characterize effects of pesticides on natural enemy populations and biological control efficacy in relevant production systems. Spatial and temporal patterns of natural enemy abundance and diversity in relation to transgenic crops will also be characterized through detailed surveys of natural enemies in transgenic and non-transgenic crops. The influence of transgenic plants on natural enemy dynamics at the regional level will be evaluated by manipulating spatial patterns and ratios of transgenic and non-transgenic plantings and examining the population dynamics of the natural enemies within the manipulated system. Movement of natural enemies between transgenic and non-transgenic plantings also will be studied. These efforts integrating traditional pesticides, transgenic crops and natural enemies is a new focus of research for the proposed project. Project participants discussed these strategies at previous annual meetings, and preliminary work is underway (GA, KY, OK) to develop preliminary data from multiple systems to better position regional scientists to compete for external research funds. Expected Outcomes: Establishment of exotic natural enemy species continues to have a significant impact on target pest species, with marked reductions in populations of exotic weeds (e.g., Brazilian peppertree and knapweed) and insect pests (fire ants, kudzu bugs). Understanding the interactions between pest management technologies and natural enemies will lead to more effective integration of biological control in pest management systems, as well as the enhancement of current levels of biological control. Characterizing effects of transgenic plants on natural enemies will help clarify the effects of these plants on ecological and agricultural systems, and minimize secondary pest outbreaks. Determining effects of cultural practices on natural enemies will expose beneficial or detrimental consequences of adopting such practices, aiding growers in their production decisions.

Measurement of Progress and Results


  • " Host range limits of introduced natural enemies will be documented across appropriate geographical areas and reported. Alternate, non-target hosts will be identified, both plant and animal (arthropod). Geographic spread of introduced biological control agents will be documented. The evaluation of the effects of established natural enemies on non-target organisms will enable the development of databases to support meaningful risk assessment protocols for future biological control programs. The constantly changing databases list associations of exotic natural enemies and non-target hosts that will be used and updated over the life of the project and made available internationally through the internet.
  • " It is anticipated that a range1 of insect pests and weeds will be targeted, and natural enemies will be sought. Upon discovery of natural enemies that are potential candidates for introduction, adequate testing for safety and effectiveness will begin. § 1The insect pests and weeds include: melaleuca, Brazilian peppertree, old world climbing fern, kudzu, tropical soda apple, water hyacinth (including pathogens), Chinese tallow, Chinese privet, tarnished plant bug, brown citrus aphid, cotton fleahopper, bromeliad weevil, red imported fire ant, muscoid flies, mole crickets, and weevils.
  • " An essential element of all biological control projects (individual pest objectives as well as the overall regional project) is the description of specific steps to be taken to evaluate the efficacy of the biological control tactics and/or agents introduced to manage the specific pests. Well-designed efforts to document the impacts (social, environmental and economic) of each biological control project will be taken. The documentation of the impact of the natural enemies is essential to the effective education of our stakeholders as to the value of the overall regional research project, as well as to the value of the science of biological control.

Outcomes or Projected Impacts

  • " Effective production, distribution, and release technologies for natural enemies of invasive pests developed by this Multi-state Project will be implemented by state and federal labs.
  • " Biocontrol measures for new invasive species of insects and weeds developed by this Multi-state Project will be transferred by extension to end-users.
  • " Improvements in classical biological control strategies made by this Multi-state Project will be accepted by the regulatory and environmental communities, as well as the public.
  • " Biologically based IPM programs and cultural practices will be developed to maximize effectiveness of natural enemies on invasive species of insects and weeds.


(2014): Efficacy of native and already established exotic natural enemies will be determined in selected target pests in order to determine the need and feasibility of implementing a biological control program through the conservation or introduction of natural enemies (e.g., multiple states region-wide: kudzu bug, brown marmorated stink bugs, aphids).

(2014): Life history parameters of candidate biological control agents will be evaluated using established techniques to establish their suitability for importation. Evaluations and parameter selections will be based on the risk avoidance/analysis framework (e.g., additional red imported fire ant natural enemies (region-wide), tropical soda apple agents (FL, GA, SC)).

(2015): Host range evaluations are ongoing for numerous southern regional pest targets, and should be completed for selected species of natural enemies under consideration for release (e.g., Brazilian peppertree, cogongrass, hydrilla, cycad aulacaspis scale).

(2015): Exploration and importation efforts will be initiated and continued for several target species, using approved quarantine facilities in the southern region, culminating in permit-approved release into the environment (e.g., natural enemies of Brazilian peppertree, redistribution of knapweed natural enemies)

(2015): ): Non-target effects of selected pesticides under will be documented in multiple agricultural systems in an effort to conserve and enhance the impact of extant natural enemies (e.g., urban pest systems including the oak lecanium scale and gerbera daisies (SC, GA); natural enemy conservation in wheat-canola agroecosystems (OK).

(2016):Released natural enemies are generally well-monitored for establishment and dispersion from release sites. Evaluations of the impact of these new beneficial species on the target pests will be documented when species are well-established in an area (e.g., knapweed weevils in Arkansas and Missouri (neighboring region), red-imported fire ant parasitoids in AR, LA, MS and FL)

(0)::Cooperative conservation biological control is a central focus of this regional research project, and numerous benchmark programs will be delivered in their respective agricultural systems (e.g., small grains in the western portion of the Region, ornamental pests in the eastern portion, and fire ants across the entire region).

(2018):rogram evaluations of long-standing biological control projects in the southern region will allow determination of their economic value program to the agricultural system as well as contribute to numerous areas of quantitative ecology and the theory of invasive species management (e.g., hemlock woolly adelgid, musk thistle, fire ants and salt cedar biological control programs; AR, KY, LA, OK, SC, TN, TX). There is a great diversity of ongoing programs being directed by scientists across the Southern Region. Thus, the proposed regional research effort will continue to have individual programs approaching different milestones throughout the duration of the project, as is consistent with the maturity of the biological control effort for each target pest. Exploration, importation, host range testing, release and evaluation are sequential activities, each with endpoints dependent on largely unpredictable project findings, we expect other milestones will be attained for projects other than those identified above.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Outreach Plan

Research results generated from this and subsequent projects will be transmitted to the user community via multiple delivery methods (e.g. publications, websites, etc.). In the previous project, as well as this one proposed, several of the specific multistate projects involved citizen scientists in conducting various phases on the project. These individuals help make releases, collect survey and evaluation data, and thus becomes ambassadors for the science.


Research under the proposed project will be planned and directed by the regional technical committee. The membership of the regional technical committee will include the regional administrative advisor (non-voting); one technical representative for each participating SAES, appointed by the directors; technical representatives from 1890 Universities, each participating USDA laboratory, and other research agencies appointed by an appropriate administrator; and a non-voting CSREES representative. Each participating SAES, 1890 University, and USDA, Agricultural Research Service laboratory and other cooperating research agencies are limited to one vote on matters of major importance regardless of the number of representatives that each agency has on the technical committee. All representatives are allowed to vote on matters that the voting members feel should be decided by all. The administrative advisor may invite non-voting consultants, as appropriate.

All members of the technical committee are eligible for office, regardless of sponsoring agency affiliation. The chair, in consultation with the administrative advisor, will notify the technical committee members of the time and place of meetings (according to the suggestions of the technical committee members), prepare the agenda, and preside at meetings of the technical committee and executive members. The chair will be responsible for preparing or supervising the preparation of an annual report of the regional project. The secretary will assist the chair and preside in the chair's absence, record and distribute the minutes, and perform other duties as requested by the technical committee or the administrative advisor. The secretary will be elected by the voting members of the technical committee and will succeed the chair.

Technical coordination among states and agencies will be accomplished by having subcommittees as needed for appropriate research areas, e.g., field crop pests, whiteflies and scales, glasshouses, livestock pests, weed pests, etc. The proposed administrative structure of the technical committee will be:

1. Experiment Station Administrative Advisor,
2. CSREES Representative,
3. Executive Committee: The Executive Committee will be composed of the past chair, chair, secretary, and administrative advisor.

The technical committee will meet at least once each year and summaries of the past year's research will be exchanged, research plans outlined, the next meeting location (and time) discussed, and a secretary elected. When possible and of benefit, annual meetings will be held jointly with related regional technical committees. The executive committee has authority to conduct business between annual meetings and perform other duties as assigned by the technical committee.

Literature Cited

Center, T. D., M. F. Purcell, P. D. Pratt, M. B. Rayamajhi, P. W. Tipping, S. A. Wright, F. A. Dray Jr. 2012. Biological control of Melaleuca quinquenervia: an Everglades invader. BioControl 57: 2, pp 151-165.

Center for Invasive Species Management. 2012. http://www.weedcenter.org/inv_plant_info/impacts.html

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