NE1832: Biological Control of Arthropod Pests and Weeds

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Active

NE1832: Biological Control of Arthropod Pests and Weeds

Duration: 10/01/2018 to 09/30/2023

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

For over a century biological control has provided a safe and effective control method for many arthropod pests and weeds in the USA and throughout the world. Realizing that pests and management efforts cross state boundaries, the four regional associations of State Agricultural Experiment Stations have long maintained multi-state research projects in biological control of arthropods and weeds. We seek permission to renew NE-1332 Biological Control of Arthropod Pests and Weeds- a project that builds upon our national expertise in biological control and specifically addresses pest complexes and research opportunities that are unique to our region. The term ‘biological control’ refers to applied efforts to manage pest problems through importation, conservation or augmentation of natural enemies, and it is generally distinguished from natural control, which is provided by unmanaged indigenous natural enemies in the native or introduced range of a pest species. 

Non-native plants and insects introduced into North America generally come without the natural enemies that keep them in check in their native habitats. Freed from these natural controls, these species often increase in numbers and distribution, adversely affecting the environment, the economy, and human health (Pimentel et al. 2000). Classical Biological Control, a deliberate process whereby these pests are reunited with their effective natural enemies, offers a potential for permanent control of these pests over widespread areas (Van Driesche et al. 2008; Hajek & Eilenberg 2018). Despite such advances in pest management as more selective pesticides, use of behavior modifying chemicals, resistant varieties and transgenic plants, pest arthropods and weeds continue to damage our agricultural crops and natural ecosystems. Biological control, used singly or in combination with other management options, should be the centerpiece of successful pest management programs (Van Driesche et al. 2008; Hajek & Eilenberg 2018). In recent years, researchers in the northeast have worked with many types of biological control agents including predaceous insects, mites, parasitoids, nematodes and pathogens in successfully managing key pests including gypsy moth, purple loosestrife, birch leafminers, mites on apples and vegetables, fruit moths, alfalfa weevil, Mexican bean beetle, whiteflies and other pests in greenhouses, imported cabbageworm, euonymus scale, etc. and in addition to other agricultural pests, are currently working against such critical forestry pests as hemlock woolly adelgid, Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer, water chestnut, swallow-wort and mile-a-minute weed. These successes and ongoing efforts have generally involved cooperative work by scientists from several states and agencies.

Interdependencies: Those attributes that make Classical Biological Control so attractive also require careful consideration of target selection, agent discovery, and pre-and post-release evaluation of agents for both efficacy and impact on non-target organisms (Mason et al. 2005; Barratt et al. 2006). These issues generally require regional input and cooperative research over a range of environmental conditions. Individual agricultural experiment stations in the Northeast Region seldom have the resources or expertise to conduct a complete Classical Biological Control program, and thus we have a long history of cooperation among state Universities, as well as with scientists from USDA-ARS, USDA-APHIS, USFS, state departments of agriculture, and specialists in foreign countries. Success in developing and implementing biological control programs is closely linked to the development of effective communication and coordination among participants. Other biological control approaches, including augmentative and conservation biological control, also require collaboration across a range of regions and environmental conditions to be successful.  The focus of this multi-state research project is to enhance biological control of arthropod pests and weeds in the Northeast Region through increased communication and collaboration among practitioners in the region and beyond. The umbrella of a northeast multi-state project provides the framework for dialogue on pest target selection and pooling of expertise and resources to allow coordinated research and outreach programs.

Many biological control programs seek to permanently establish introduced species across a regional or even a continental scale.  Conventional science, performed primarily by specialists, is not well-suited for monitoring at these broad temporal or spatial scales so researchers in the Northeast have been on the leading edge of utilizing citizen science to enhance monitoring for released biological control agents.  Compared to conventional science, programs such as the Lost Ladybug Project ( have proven to be superior for tracking introduced and native species (Losey et al. 2012) and more cost effective per data point gathered (Gardiner 2012).

Related, Current and Previous Work

Mission: The mission of this northeast regional project is similar to our counterparts in other states and several NE-1332 members work with other regional groups on key national pests including spotted wing drosophila, brown marmorated stink bug, and emerald ash borer. However, in general, the agricultural and natural ecosystems of the northeast differ from other regions of the country and our scientists address some unique pests. This northeastern regional project includes biological control of both weeds and arthropod pests because these two groups of pests have many similar research issues and many individual participants in this project already work on biological control of both arthropods and weeds.

Regional Cooperation: The participants in this program have a long history of information exchange and collaborative research. Beginning in 1985 and continuing today, we hold biological control symposia at the annual meeting of the Eastern Branch of the Entomological Society of America. Many of the members listed in Appendix E have attended and participated in these symposia, which have featured discussions of methods, issues, and opportunities in biological control of weeds and arthropods. Some successful projects, including birch leafminer and lily leaf beetle, have directly resulted from discussions initiated at those meetings. Since this collaboration was formalized with the creation of NE-1032 in 2008, our participants have organized 8 symposia with international participation and this has greatly expanded collaborative efforts (reported on the NE-1332 website and also reflected in Appendices B and C). Biological control practitioners in the northeast regularly assist in agent releases and surveys and often provide insect and plant samples for colleagues in other states, taking advantage of local knowledge and greatly reducing time and cost. For instance, colleagues in five northeastern states recently documented successful biological control of birch leafminer throughout the northeast and well into the Midwest (Casagrande et al. 2009). A similar survey of imported cabbageworm parasitoids has shown displacement of an inefficient parasitoid by a more effective and host specific parasitoid, and research has also evaluated the impact on a native butterfly (Herlihy et al. 2012, Morton et al. 2015). Parasitoids of the lily leaf beetle have been sent by researchers in RI to collaborators in 5 states and Canada in recent years (Tewksbury et al. 2017). Mile-a-minute weed insect herbivores have been released in eleven states (Hough-Goldstein et al. 2012, Smith and Hough-Goldstein 2014) and purple loosestrife herbivores were sent from NY to most northeastern states. In addition to cooperative release and evaluation programs, there are also ongoing research programs where essential research components are conducted at cooperating institutions such as the Phragmites biological control program involving RI, NY, and CABI Bioscience in Switzerland and a coordinated research program on swallow-worts undertaken by URI, USDA, CABI, and Canadian colleagues. Other examples include hemlock woolly adelgid and winter moth research, briefly described under procedures (below). These successful examples demonstrate current successes of this regional project (described in Appendix C - Impact Statements) and highlight the potential for increased success from continuing this multi-state project.

The regional character of the project is particularly obvious for the northeast. There are essentially no arthropods or weeds that are limited to a single state and biological control efforts against these pests are not restricted by state boundaries. It is generally impossible for a single scientist in the northeast to develop and implement a program of classical biological control without input and assistance from colleagues in other institutions. Through this regional project we enhance the regional cooperation that has existed for decades. The communication fostered by this project has also enhanced the development and implementation of augmentative and conservation biological control practices across the region. We strengthen and expand these essential interactions and properly document this regional activity as meeting multi-state requirements for the Agricultural Experiment Stations. The productivity and regional character of this regional project is demonstrated in Appendix B which includes a listing of over 150 publications since inception of this regional project in 2008, many of which were co-authored by NE-1032 members.

Regional Facilities and Expertise: Relative to the rest of the United States, we enjoy a high concentration of insect containment and rearing facilities with Cornell, URI, and VPI all maintaining USDA-approved primary insect quarantine laboratories. Other quarantine and rearing facilities are found at the Otis ANG base in MA, the Ansonia Forest Service lab in CT, the NJ Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory, and the ARS Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Unit on the campus of the University of Delaware, Newark, DE. These facilities are essential for Classical Biological Control research and are used extensively in establishment and augmentative biological control efforts. Virtually all university researchers listed in Appendix E have used one or more of these facilities. The Northeast also has a large number of biological control practitioners, comparable to the other USDA regions.

The goals, objectives, and research approaches of this regional project are similar to those of the Southern, North Central, and Western regional projects in biological control. Although we deal with different pest complexes and organize objectives differently, all regions share the general goals of improving biological control.

All existing biological control programs in the northeast fall under these general goals as indicated in Procedures. Goal four is particularly important in the Northeast because many of our target pests are found in natural areas and managers need to be convinced of positive long term consequences and minimal risk associated with our programs.

Overall Objective: Despite the fact that all four regions have generally similar missions, goals, and objectives, it should be very clear that we have very different pest complexes and research opportunities. All of the pests listed in Appendix A are either unique to the Northeast, or the biological control project is focused in the Northeast because of facilities or personnel. The overall objective of this regional project is to further cooperative research and implementation of biological control programs against arthropod and weed pests of the Northeastern region. Specific objectives are outlined under individual projects.


  1. 1. Increased conservation of existing natural enemies
    Comments: Assessment of natural enemy populations and improved knowledge of the impact of insecticides will lead to reduced risk to natural enemy populations and enhanced biological control in blueberry systems. This sets the stage for additional biological control efforts such as augmentation and classical biological control if needed.
  2. 2. Augmentation programs involving repeated rearing and release
    Comments: Experimental augmentative releases of Trichogramma ostriniae against the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) will be made in NY to assess the role of volatiles released by host eggs on the efficacy of releases. Root aphids infesting Christmas trees in Vermont will be identified and releases of Hypoaspis miles made to determine effectiveness. Research is also underway to determine the efficacy of including entomopathogenic fungi in potting soils in a plant-mediated system for management of western flower thrips in greenhouse production of ornamentals. The Shields lab at Cornell has been successful utilizing nematodes for control of alfalfa snout beetle (Shields and Testa 2017), and research is continuing in this area.
  3. 3. Introduction of new natural enemies against invasive plants
    Comments: Objective 3 (Weeds): Completion of host range testing of potential biological control agents for common reed will allow a determination of the relative safety of environmental releases of these agents in North America. Releases of Hypena opulenta in New England will be monitored and evaluated. In another study, continuing research on the natural decline of garlic mustard populations will determine the cause of this decline and provide important information in the decision of whether releases of exotic agents against garlic mustard are needed. If USDA/APHIS approves the pending release request for a knotweed biological control agent, initial releases will be made in MA and NY, followed by efficacy studies and redistribution to other northeastern states.
  4. 4. Introduction of new natural enemies against invasive insects
    Comments: Objective 4 (Insects): As the emerald ash borer spreads throughout the northeast, scientists will participate in establishment and evaluation of biological control agents based upon the experience of Midwest States. Laricobius nigrinis, the predator of hemlock woolly adelgid is beginning to show promise for establishment and population build-up and spread. If ongoing studies also show that it is significantly impacting HWA populations, this predator will be widely distributed.
  5. 5. Conduct research to understand and enhance the effectiveness of biocontrol systems.
    Comments: There are many topics that need to be addressed in reference to biological control safety and effectiveness such as the importance of climate and phenology, the role of genetic variation in determining successful biological control, host range testing methods, and factors affecting establishment and impact.


The procedures for the many aspects of this project are outlined below, under individual objectives. The key activities for the group include an annual meeting where progress of individual research programs is shared with other members of the project and feedback is sought on selection of biological control targets, host range testing, release methodology, and follow-up sampling. Likewise, these meetings feature biological control symposia organized around key topics, where members consider overarching issues and report on research and outreach efforts and identify new collaborations. Discussions of the various projects associated with this multistate project at the annual meeting and at other forums help to coordinate research, implementation, and evaluation programs. Because biological programs are diverse and encompass many different agricultural, forest and urban settings such interaction and integration of efforts is exceptionally valuable for the broad discipline of biological control of weed and arthropod pests.

Objective 1 (To conserve existing natural enemies and examine the effects of exotic species on ecosystem function)

In managed landscapes, conservation biological control seeks to restore natural predator-prey linkages by conserving natural enemies and their associated food resources. Through habitat manipulation, vegetation complexity and diversity is increased, providing food and other resources to arthropod natural enemies (Frank et al. 2008, Landis et al. 2000, Gurr et al. 2000). The addition of flowering insectary strips has successfully increased natural enemy abundance in ornamental systems (Frank and Shrewsbury 2008, Shrewsbury et al. 2004). Moreover, flowering insectary strips have resulted in higher predation or parasitism rates and lower pest populations in some systems (Shrewsbury et al. 2004). Currently, Tallamy (University of Delaware) and Shrewsbury and Raupp (University of Maryland) are examining the effects of exotic plants on ecosystem function, including conservation biological control. Raupp is also researching the role of systemic insecticides in disrupting the activity of natural enemies in landscapes in New York and Maryland.

At Cornell, researchers are looking at the impact of landscape structure on the success of biological control (Grab et al. 2018).

Maine and New Jersey are involved in assessing the natural enemy communities in blueberry production and developing pest management tactics that conserve the dominant natural enemies of onion thrips (Thrips tabaci) and other pests. The research also evaluates the susceptibility of the more abundant natural enemies to currently registered and new insecticides that have potential for registration (Yarborough and Drummond 2007). In addition, strategies such as within-field spatially based management are being developed for the conservation of natural enemies in blueberry.

Natural ecosystems are under evaluation at Cornell where the inter-relationships among garlic mustard, deer, earthworms, salamanders, and slugs are studied in long-term plots with various manipulations (Maerz et al. 2009, Nuzzo et al. 2009).

Objective 2. (To release and evaluate augmentative biological control agents)

The New Jersey Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory will continue rearing and releasing the tropical parasitoid Pediobius foveolatus against the Mexican bean beetle in a program that has been a major success throughout the mid-Atlantic states. Over the past several years augmentative releases of Trichogramma ostriniae have been made in MA, VA, PA, ME, and in Quebec against the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis). Most efforts are focused in sweet corn, but trials are also conducted in sweet peppers and potatoes. Augmentative biological control is also attempted and evaluated in a variety of nursery and landscape settings. These studies include releases of lady beetles, lacewings, predatory mites, and entomopathogenic nematodes to control aphids, lace bugs, caterpillars, and phytophagous mites. This research involves collaborators from University of Maryland, Rutgers University, the Smithsonian Institution, and several commercial and private enterprises. Results to date are summarized in Shrewsbury and Raupp (2004) and Van Tol and Raupp (2005).

Root aphids infesting Christmas trees in Vermont will be identified and releases of Hypoaspis miles will be made to determine effectiveness. Research is also underway to determine the efficacy of including entomopathogenic fungi in potting soils in a plant-mediated system for management of western flower thrips in greenhouse production of ornamentals. These trials use marigolds as a trap plant, luring the pest out of the crop, where populations are managed with a combination of granular formulation of the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana, in the soil and release of the predatory mite, Neoseiulus cucumeris, on the foliage. The effectiveness of this plant-mediated system is being tested in several commercial greenhouses in Vermont and New Hampshire.  Evaluating the release methods of commercially produced predatory mites for thrips, whiteflies, and spider mites on greenhouse crops is being done at Cornell. 

The entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium brunneum, strain F52 has been investigated for development and use as a biopesticide to help in eradication of Asian longhorned beetles. At Cornell, researchers are working with colleagues working with USDA ARS in the midwest and Xavier University in Cincinnati to optimize formulations, especially toward improved moisture retention that would prolong and enhance activity of the formulated fungus.

Other augmentative release studies on greenhouse crops with predatory mites, predatory bugs, pathogens, and hymenopterous parasitoids are underway at Cornell and the University of Vermont. The use of entomopathogenic nematodes for use against a variety of soil-dwelling pests in crop systems as diverse as alfalfa, field corn, apples, turf, grapes, and greenhouses has been spearheaded by the Shields lab at Cornell with numerous collaborators.  In some of these crops, the nematodes have persisted for years after an initial release.

Objective 3. (Classical Biological Control of Weeds)

Phragmites australis. The biological control program directed at Phragmites australis provides a good example of regional cooperation spearheaded by scientists at Cornell and URI. In this project Cornell has taken the lead in regional surveys for native and exotic Phragmites australis populations and their herbivores while URI has measured impact of native and exotic herbivores on these plants. Both groups have funded and directed the efforts of CABI in Switzerland to identify and evaluate potential biological control agents. This program is now completing host range testing at URI and CABI while Cornell is addressing decision making about possible releases over the next several years (Casagrande et al. 2018, Blossey et al. 2018).

Swallow-worts. A program directed against swallow-worts (Vincetoxicum nigrum and V. rossicum) had URI and USDA/ARS (New York) scientists surveying Europe for potential natural enemies. CABI assisted in conducting surveys and field tests that can only be done in Europe. Host range testing was completed at URI for two agents (Hazlehurst et al. 2012), is well-underway on a third agent by ARS scientists at Cornell and Montpellier, France and pre-and (potential) post-release sites are under study. Scientists at Agriculture and AgriFood Canada-Lethbridge Research Centre are working closely with URI, CABI, and Carleton University in Ontario on this project. First releases of one agent were made in Canada in 2014 and the U.S. in 2017.

Mile-a-minute weed (Persicaria perfoliata) Another cooperative venture is directed against mile-a-minute weed, an aggressive annual vine native to Asia that was accidentally introduced into PA in the 1930s and has so far spread into at least 11 states and DC. A joint research program initiated in 1996 has resulted in the establishment of a stem-feeding weevil, Rhinoncomimus latipes in all of these states, though not in all areas invaded by the vine. The University of Delaware, US Forest Service, and NJ Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory are cooperating on this project, along with many state agencies, universities, and natural area land managers throughout the region (Hough-Goldstein et al. 2012).  Present efforts focus on continued release of the weevil in mile-a-minute populations that have not yet been colonized, evaluation of impact on the target weed and associated plant community under different environmental conditions, and development of integrated weed management strategies incorporating the weevil.

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). This cooperative effort involving scientists at Cornell, University of Minnesota and CABI Switzerland, has completed host range testing of potential biological control agents, but monitoring of long-term plots in many states has shown garlic mustard populations to decline dramatically in less than a decade after spread into an area and establishment. Research continues on the nature of this decline and whether biological control of garlic mustard is actually needed (Davis et al. 2006).

Knotweeds. Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), Giant knotweed (F. sachalinensis), and their interspecific hybrid (F. x bohemica) have become serious widespread weeds throughout the Northeast and are the focus of a cooperative biological control project presently involving scientists at Cornell and U. Mass. working with colleagues in Oregon, Lethbridge Canada, and CABI in Great Britain. Anticipating the eventual release of a biological control agent from research underway by cooperators Fritzi Grevstad (Oregon) and Dick Shaw (CABI Great Britain), a monitoring protocol was developed and pre-release monitoring is underway in NY & MA. A release petition is under consideration by USDA/APHIS (Grevstad et al. 2013).

Additional Weed Problems. In addition to the above-mentioned projects that are well underway, scientists across the region are collaborating on other projects with application for the northeast. Virginia scientists are working on biological control of tree of heaven (Alianthus altissima) in collaboration with scientists at Penn State and in China. Water chestnut (Trapa natans) is also the target of research involving collaborative efforts with Chinese scientists in cooperation with Cornell. CABI scientists are involved in studies to assess the potential for biological control of glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus). St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a significant weed pest in the Northeast. It is a recent invader in Maine where it has become established in glacial outwash areas that encompass the present blueberry production region of Downeast, Maine. Observations have shown the two H. perforatum biological control agents (Chrysolina beetles and the fungal pathogen, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides) also occur in Maine. Future studies will focus on the extent, abundance, and role that these biological control agents are currently having on this invasive plant species. In a collaborative project with The Nature Conservancy, Roy Van Driesche (U. Mass.) is assessing the status of native and exotic species of bittersweet, setting the stage for a biological control program against the exotic species which is rapidly displacing native bittersweet through competition and hybridization.

Objective 4. (Classical Biological Control of Insects)

Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), native to China and Russia, was found in Michigan in 2002. It currently is found in about 15 states and one Canadian province, and is continuing to spread. It is the subject of intensive research by USDA-ARS, APHIS, and FS scientists, as well as university entomologists in DE, MA, MI, CT and abroad. Three parasitoids were approved by the USDA for environmental release and were released in 2007. Since then at least two of these species have become established in one or more locations and releases continue, supported by an APHIS mass rearing laboratory in Brighton, MI. Life table evaluation plots of the impacts of introduced parasitoids and native natural enemies began in 2008 and are continuing in MI. This pest is now found in NY, MD, MA, CT, NH, and VT. As this pest spreads throughout the northeast, scientists will participate in establishment and evaluation of biological controls in the northeast (Bauer et al. 2015, Duan et al. 2017).

Hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) has been the subject of extensive cooperative biological control efforts over the past decade. While several groups of predators have been studied and several species introduced, most current efforts are focused on release and evaluation of the western US species, Laricobius nigrinus (Story et al. 2012), and starting in 2013, L. osakensis from Japan. Releases of L. nigrinus have been made in six states where populations of the predator and HWA are being monitored. Impacts are now being observed in GA, NC and NJ. This research, funded and coordinated by US Forest Service, involves many state agencies and universities throughout the region, especially in CT, MA, NJ, and VA. Additional research is underway at the University of VT to evaluate the entomopathogen Myriangium spp. against the HWA. This fungus, isolated from an epizootic in NH, is now mass produced and under evaluation for impact on HWA populations and hemlock trees.

Winter moth (Operophtera brumata) is another new pest in the northeastern USA. Based upon past biological control successes in Nova Scotia and the Pacific Northwest, scientists at U. Mass. are working with USDA Forest Service and APHIS researchers in MA to rear, release, and evaluate the tachinid parasitoid Cyzenis albicans against this pest. Entomologists in RI and CT are assisting in locating suitable release sites in their states. Joe Elkinton’s lab at UMASS has introduced many thousand C. albicans distributed across 43 sites in eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine, and so far have established the fly at 33 of those sites. As was seen in Nova Scotia, it typically takes 3 to 5 years before C. albicans are recovered at release sites. Since there is only one generation per year of both the fly and the winter moth, it takes several years for the 1500-2000 flies that are released at a site to catch up with the millions of winter moths that exist at that site. The fly has been recovered at all 17 of the sites where it was released prior to 2012 and at 21 of 22 release sites in Massachusetts (Elkinton and Boettner 2017, Elkinton et al. 2014).

Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is an invasive pest of fruits and vegetables in North America. Foreign exploration, combined with host range testing and continuing monitoring of existing natural enemies is underway to determine the need and potential for biological control of the BMSB (Jones et al. 2017) Research is also underway to determine if BMSB can be managed with sprays of B. bassiana, an entomopathogenic fungus. In addition, at Cornell, the microsporidia Nosema maddoxi has been described from BMSB and the distribution and impact on BMSB of different instars is being evaluated. Surveys of existing natural enemies of BMSB in ornamental plant and other cropping systems in MD and other northeast states will continue. BMSB eggs are surveyed for causes of mortality, along with active stages of BMSB. Parasitoids and other natural enemies are being identified and their potential for biological control evaluated.

Additional Insect Pests. The New Jersey Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory is working on a cooperative rearing and release project to further distribute Peristenus relictus, a parasitoid of the tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris), with USDA/ARS/BIRL and Delaware State University. This NJ laboratory commonly cooperates with forest service and university researchers throughout the northeast, taking advantage of its extensive facilities and experience in mass-rearing biological control agents.

Ann Hajek at Cornell is researching the use of nematodes as biological control agents for Sirex noctilio (Williams and Hajek 2017, Morris and Hajek 2014).  As the invasive pine-killing woodwasp Sirex noctilio spreads from the northeast to the south, where pine forests are more extensive, the Hajek lab has been tasked with investigating whether the parasitic nematode, Deladenus siricidicola, used for control in Australia would be appropriate for use in North America. The Hajek lab at Cornell has found that a predominantly avirulent strain of the same nematode already occurs in S. noctilio in northeastern forests. The Hajek lab has also documented some horizontal transmission of this nematode to the native non-pest Sirex nigricornis that also develops in pines and an associated wood-boring beetle. Studies suggest that the strain of D. siricidicola commercialized in Australia might also hybridize with the already-present strain.

Scientists at Cornell are also testing entomopathogenic nematodes against the alfalfa snout weevil (Otiorhynchus porcatus) and evaluating the persistence and effectiveness of NY strains against endemic populations of plum curculio in both organic and conventionally grown apple orchards.


Measurement of Progress and Results


  • • The specific biological control programs that comprise this regional project are at different steps in the sequences of programs and their progress will be reported annually, both individually to their parent organizations and collectively in the annual report of the regional project.
  • • In addition to publishing journal articles (see Appendix B), biological control practitioners in the northeast regularly participate in regional publications and symposia proceedings. For instance, many of us contributed chapters to the US Forest Service publication Biological Control of Invasive Plants in the Eastern United States (USDA Forest Service Publication FHTET-2002-04). We also made major contributions to the Forest Service Publications: FHTET-2004-03, FHET-03-05, FHTET-2005-8, and FHTET-2008-10, and we contributed most of the papers in the proceedings of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Symposium (Feb. 12-14, 2008). Van Driesche published a new textbook on biological control in 2008 and several NE1032 members are working on a new book (by the Forest Service) on the biological control (or potential for it) of 37 key exotic forest insects to be printed in 2013. Hajek at Cornell, with colleague Eilenberg at the University of Copenhagen, have revised Hajek’s introductory text on biological control and that will be published in July 2018. Through this regional project we will annually compile a list of publications by project participants to enhance communication within the project and with the general public.
  • • In addition to publications, northeastern biological control specialists regularly make presentations at local, statewide, and regional meetings of scientific societies, conservation organizations, land managers and grower groups.
  • • Tangible outputs of the work of this regional project are the increased populations of natural enemies throughout the region. This is reflected in parasitism rates such as the 30% parasitism of winter moth in MA by the newly-released tachinid parasitoid and the recovery of the hemlock woolly adelgid predator (Laricobius nigrinis) 17 miles from release sites where a NJ population of this predator is rapidly increasing in density and distribution. Another example of a project output is provided by a collaborative regional effort against mile-a-minute weed where over 160,000 Rhinoncomimus latipes weevils have been reared by the Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Laboratory in NJ and released in CT, DE, MA, MD, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA, and WV. Spread is over 4 km/yr from release sites. In another example from NJ, 98,000 adult Pediobius foveolatus were released against the Mexican bean beetle during the 2011 soybean growing season. In the NY greenhouse industry, more than 60% of growers indicated that they are now using some form of biological control in 2017.

Outcomes or Projected Impacts

  • • The many research and outreach components of this regional project share common outcomes which can be documented. These include documentation of natural enemy host range, establishment of biological control agents, natural enemy spread, reduced pest problems and associated effects on other components of the ecosystem as a result of natural enemy releases. Another common outcome is increased knowledge about the science of biological control. Impacts of this work include improved future programs based upon new knowledge and reduced need for pest control activities and attendant environmental and economic consequences because of successful biological control programs. In most cases, these results are not yet achieved and that is why we continue working on them. So this section includes examples of potential benefits of ongoing work as well as documented impacts of some ongoing projects and others just completed through this regional project.
  • • For Objective 1: Assessment of natural enemy populations and improved knowledge of the impact of insecticides will lead to reduced risk to natural enemy populations and enhanced biological control in blueberry systems. Thus need for pesticides may be reduced with reduced impact on the environment and reduced cost to producer.
  • • For Objective 2: The effectiveness of the ongoing NJ Mexican bean beetle program is demonstrated by the fact that New Jersey soybean growers have not used insecticides against the Mexican bean beetle (Epilachna varivestis) in over 25 years. No soybean farmer in NJ has had to spray for Mexican bean beetle since 1987.
  • • For Objective 3: To date, it appears that Rhinoncomimus latipes will be extremely successful in controlling mile-a-minute weed (P. perfoliata) on its own in certain circumstances, and will contribute to an integrated management program under other conditions. This biological control agent has become established at nearly all release sites in 10 states and is rapidly spreading throughout the region.
  • • For Objective 4: As a result of parasitoid releases and surveys conducted by regional project members, the birch leafminer is now known to be successfully controlled by Lathroles nigricollis throughout the Northeast and well into Canada and the mid-western states and there is no need for additional control efforts against this pest. This information was distributed to all northeast IPM coordinators and at New England Grows and in a Forest Service publication and will soon be included in state IPM fact sheets. There should be no insecticides directed against this pest.
  • • In another example of a recently-completed effort from NE1032, collaborative research and surveys have documented that the introduced parasitoid Cotesia rubecula has spread throughout the Northeast and Midwest, resulting in increased control and reduced pesticide use against the imported cabbageworm (Pieris rapae). This newly introduced parasitoid has also had a positive effect on the conservation of a state-listed native butterfly (Pieris oleracea) formerly suppressed by another parasitoid, Cotesia glomerata, that has now been greatly reduced by competition with C. glomerata.


(2019):-Characterize and identify pest and natural enemy communities and their interactions. (2019) -Assess biological characteristics of natural enemies.(2019) -Survey indigenous natural enemies attacking the pest. (2019)

(2020):-Conduct foreign exploration and ecological studies in the native range of the pest. (2020) -Determine systematics and biogeography of the pest and natural enemies. (2020)

(2021):- Identify and assess factors potentially disruptive to biological control. (2021) - Develop procedures for rearing, storing, quality control and release of natural enemies, and conduct experimental releases to assess feasibility. (2021) - Determine environmental safety and potential efficacy of exotic candidates prior to release.(2021)

(2023):- Implement and evaluate habitat modification, horticultural practices, and pest suppression tactics to conserve natural enemy activity.(2023) - Implement augmentation programs and evaluate efficacy of natural enemies.(2023) - Release, establish and redistribute natural enemies. (2023) - Evaluate natural enemy efficacy and study ecological/physiological basis for interactions. (2023)

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Outreach Plan

Education has always been essential to success in biological control, and this has become more evident in recent years as developing programs involve the general public and other stakeholder groups. Northeastern biological control scientists continue to address the educational needs of our clients through refereed publications, non- refereed peer reviewed publications, workshops, producer field days, etc., as described above under Outputs. We will meet with growers, foresters, land owners/managers, regulatory agencies and other stakeholders to solicit their needs and to inform them of opportunities and results of research projects. These meetings vary from individual one-on-one conversations to presentations at the Northeast Greenhouse Conference and the USDA Interagency Research Forum on Invasive Species at Annapolis (audience about 300). Five members of our regional project have addressed New England Grows over the past two years where we update horticulturalists from throughout the Northeast on the latest results of biological control research.  We will continue to present and discuss pertinent research findings at regularly scheduled professional meetings such as the Entomological Society of America and international meetings on weed and insect biological control.

In recent years we have made increasing use of web sites. Cornell has widely used web sites on biological control of weeds ( and insects ( Additionally, U. Mass maintains a web site for the US Forest Service on current biological control projects ( The University of Maryland has several popular websites (,, that emphasize conservation of beneficial insects. Most researchers and all institutions represented in Appendix E have web sites describing their current projects.


The regional project officers will consist of a Chair, Secretary, and Representative at Large elected from the regional project membership. These elected officials, plus the administrative advisor, comprise the Executive Committee. The Chair will prepare technical and executive meeting agendas, preside at meetings, and prepare an annual progress report on the research activities of the regional project. The Secretary will record the minutes of technical and executive committee meetings and perform other duties as necessary. The Representative at Large, who will be elected annually, will succeed the Secretary who will in turn succeed the Chair. Subcommittees may be appointed by the Chair to assist with project needs. The regional project will meet annually, unless otherwise planned, at a place and on dates designated by majority vote of the project membership.

Literature Cited

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Blossey, B., P. Häfliger, L. Tewksbury, A. Davalos, and R. Casagrande. 2018. Host specificity of Archanara geminipuncta and Archanara neurica, two potential biocontrol agents for invasive Phragmites australis in North America. Biological Control (in prep).


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Elkinton, J., G. Boettner, A. Liebhold, and R. Gwiazdowski. 2014. Biology, Spread, and Biological Control of Winter Moth in the Eastern United States. USDA Forest Service, FHTET-2014-07.

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Goble, T.A., Gardescu, S., Jackson, M.A., Hajek, A.E. 2016. Evaluating different carriers of Metarhizium brunneum F52 microsclerotia for control of adult Asian longhorned beetles (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Biocontr. Sci. Technol. 26: 1212-1229.

Goble, T.A., Gardescu, S., Jackson, M.A., Fisher, J.J., Hajek, A.E. 2016. Conidial production, persistence, and pathogenicity of hydromulch formulations of Metarhizium brunneum F52 microsclerotia under forest conditions. Biol. Control 95: 83-93.

Goble, T., Hajek, A.E., Jackson, M.A., Gardescu, S. 2015. Microsclerotia of Metarhizium brunneum F52 applied in hydromulch for control of Asian longhorned beetles (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 108: 433-443. doi: 10.1093/jee/tov013

Grab, H., B. Danforth, K. Poveda, G.M. Loeb. 2018. Landscape simplification reduces classical biological control and crop yield. Ecological Applications. 28(2):2-8.

Grevstad, F., R. Shaw, R. Bourchier, P. Sanguankeo, G. Cortat and R. C. Reardon. 2013. Efficacy and host specificity compared between two populations of the psyllid Aphalara itadori, candidates for biological control of invasive knotweeds in North America. Biological Control. 65: 53-62.


Hajek, A. E., and J. Eilenberg. 2018. Natural Enemies: An Introduction to Biological Control, 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Hazlehurst, A. F., A. S. Weed, L. Tewksbury, and R. Casagrande. 2012. Host Specificity of Hypena opulenta: A Potential Biological Control Agent of Vincetoxicum in North America. Environmental Entomology 41 (4):841-848.

Herlihy, M. V., R. G. Van Driesche, M. R. Abney, J. Brodeur, A. B. Bryant1, R. A. Casagrande, D. A. Delaney, T. E. Elkner, S. J. Fleischer, R. L. Groves, D. S. Gruner, J. P. Harmon, G. E. Heimpel, K. Hemady, T. P. Kuhar, C. M. Maund, A. M. Shelton, A. J. Seaman, M. Skinner, R. Weinzierl, K. V. Yeargan, and Z. Szendrei. 2012. Distribution of Cotesia rubecula (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) and its displacement of Cotesia glomerata in eastern North America. Florida Entomologist in press.

Hough-Goldstein, J., E. Lake, and R. Reardon. 2012. Status of an ongoing biological control program for the invasive vine, Persicaria perfoliata in eastern North America. BioControl 57:181-189.

Jones, A. L., D. E. Jennings, C. R. R. Hooks, and P. M. Shrewsbury. 2017. Field surveys of egg mortality and indigenous egg parasitoids of the brown marmorated stinkbug, Halymorpha halys, in ornamental nurseries in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the USA. Journal of Pest Science. 90:1159-1168.

Kroll, S.A., Hajek, A.E., Morris, E.E., Long, S.J. 2013. Parasitism of Sirex noctilio by non-sterilizing Deladenus siricidicola in northeastern North America. Biol. Control 67: 203-211.

Losey, J., L. Allee, R. Smyth. Spring 2012. The Lost Ladybug Project: Citizen Spotting Surpasses Scientist’s Surveys American Entomologist. Pp. 22-24.

Maerz, J. C., V. A. Nuzzo, and B. Blossey. 2009. Declines in woodland salamander abundance associated with non-native earthworm and plant invasions. Conservation Biology, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 975-981.

Mason, P. G., R. G. Flanders and H. A. Arrendondo-Bernal. 2005. How can legislation facilitate the use of biological control of arthropods in North America? Proceedings, 2nd International Symposium of Biological Control of Arthropods, Davos, Switzerland. Sept. 2005. U.S.D.A. Forest Service Publication FHTET-2005-08, vol. 1: 701-714.

Morris, E. E., and A. E. Hajek. 2014. Eat or be eaten: Fungus and nematode wwitch off as predator and prey. Fungal Ecology. 11: 114-121.

Morris, E.E., Kepler. R.M., Long, S.J., Williams, D.W., Hajek, A.E. 2013. Phylogenetic analysis of Deladenus nematodes parasitizing northeastern North American Sirex species. J. Invertebr. Pathol. 113: 177-183.

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Shields, E.J. and A.M. Testa. 2017. Biological control of alfalfa snout beetle with persistent entomopathogenic nematodes: expanding a single farm’s success into an area-wide biological control management program.  American Entomologist. 63:216-223.

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Story, H. M., L. C. Vieira, S. M. Salom, and L. T. Kok. 2012. Assessing performance and competition among three Laricobius (Coleoptera: Derodontidae) species, predators of hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae (Hemiptera: Adelgidae). Environmental Entomology. 41 (4): 896-904.

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Williams, D.W. and A. E. Hajek. 2017. Biological control of Sirex noctilio (Hymenoptera: Siricidae) in the northeastern United States using an exotic parasitic nematode. Biological Control 107: 77-86.

Yarborough, D.E. and F.A. Drummond. 2012. 2012 Insect Control Guide for Wild Blueberries. UMCE No. 2001, Fact Sheet no. 209


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Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

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