News and Reviews

Biological Control at Regional Entomology Meeting

Biological control of insects was the topic of several oral and poster presentations at the North Central Branch of the Entomological Society of America's 54th annual meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, March 28-31. The following are very brief summaries of a few presentations. (Only the presenting author is mentioned.)

1. Conservation biological control of pine needle scale, Chionaspis pinifoliae - J. Tooker, Univ. Illinois

White clover is a good food source for the parasitoid wasp Aphytis chilensi that attacks the scale. Incorporating flowers in landscape plantings and Christmas tree plantations can improve parasitism and biological control.

2. Diversity of native natural enemies of pine shoot beetle and their potential impact on biological control - D. McCullough, Michigan State Univ.

Pine shoot beetle, an introduced bark beetle, was first discovered in North America in 1992. The native clerid beetle Thanasimus dubius and three other native predators that are active in the early spring when the pine shoot beetle is active may attack developing larvae in brood logs.

3. Managing elm leaf beetle with biorationals - V. Krischik, Univ. Minnesota

Natural epizootics of Beauveria bassiana can kill 75% of elm leaf beetle pupae. Beauveria and nematode sprays on the soil surface to kill the exposed pupal stage under the tree canopy are better than oils or soaps.

4. Potential impact of genetically modified baculoviruses: Research efforts and deployment strategies - J. All, Univ. Georgia

Although "wild" nucleo-polyhedrosis viruses (NPVs) can produce severe epizootics within pest populations, these NPVs have not generally been successful as microbial insecticides, often because of lengthy incubation before insect death. Genetically altered NPVs have been produced that kill target insects up to five times faster and have improved control over feral NPVs and sprayable Bt products.

5. Recovery of the gall mite, Aceria malherbae, on field bindweed - J. Nechols, Kansas State Univ.

This eriophyid mite is one of two natural enemies approved for release on field bindweed in the U.S. Periodic releases have been made in Kansas since 1993. Evidence of successful overwintering was observed in 1997 and 1998, indicating this natural enemy may be establishing in Kansas.

6. Field-cage studies of Beauveria bassiana for the suppression of adult western corn rootworm - B. Mulock, USDA/ARS, Brookings, SD

Fungus sprays applied to corn rootworm adults on corn plants killed up to 51% of the beetles, but mortality was only 21% when beetles were released into cages 1 day after spraying.

7. Photorhabdus toxin complex (Tc): Is it an alternative for Bt in transgenic crops? - D. Bowen, Univ. Wisconsin

Toxins produced by the enteric bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens -- that normally lives in heterorhabditid nematodes -- kill insects such as southern corn rootworm and European corn borer within 24 hours. Genes that code for the toxins have been cloned and could be incorporated into plants.

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