Global biodiversity is receiving increased attention as it becomes more and more threatened because of the growing human population and development. Beetles or coleopteran are no exception and CABI is running this project to increase knowledge and understanding of their biodiversity in Laos.
A European biological control agent may help control an exotic pest of apple trees in western Canada. Damage from the apple leaf-curling midge in eastern Canada was effectively reduced by introducing a European natural enemy, Platygaster demades, in the 1990s. The pest arrived in British Columbia more recently, where releases of P. demades are now being considered. First, however, the identity of P. demades needs to be confirmed with molecular tools and its host range defined.
The western corn rootworm is a major invasive maize pest in North America and Europe. The phase-out of certain pesticides means control options are increasingly limited. New technologies are being researched in collaboration with five French partners. Using field surveys and candidate gene searches through database-mining, we are investigating bacterial proteins with insecticidal effects. Promising strains are then screened in vitro to develop biopesticidial or biotechnological control options.
The western corn rootworm is a destructive pest of maize. Most damage is caused by larvae feeding on the roots, which becomes apparent when plants lodge. Drawing on some 15 yearS experience as a research and development partner on corn rootworms, CABI has become a key service provider for field surveys, laboratory and field research on basic ecology and management of the pest, rearing including supplying eggs for research, and writing support.
European hawkweeds are invasive in North American pastures, where mechanical methods of control are difficult and ineffective. Chemical control with broad-spectrum herbicides is not selective and relatively expensive, with the weed often recolonising untreated pastures. Insects that feed on hawkweeds in Europe have been studied as potential biological control agents for North America since 2000. Two agents have been released in Canada – the gall wasp Aulacidea subterminalis in 2011 and the hoverfly Cheilosia urbana in 2017.
Field bindweed is a Eurasian vine whose dense creeping and twining growth smothers other vegetation and its long-lived seeds and deep roots make it hard to control. It is a noxious weed of agricultural fields in temperate regions and has become invasive in North America. CABI is studying sustainable control methods using host-specific natural enemies, which could be introduced into North America as biological control agents.