FHTET Biological Control Program
The FHTET biological control program (FHTET-BC) is part of the broader Forest Service’s National Strategy and Implementation Plan for Invasive Species Management as well as regional plans dealing with invasive species (e.g. Forest Service Non-native Species Eastern Plan).
The focus of the FHTET-BC is to demonstrate a strong leadership role in the development and implementation of biological control technologies to manage wide spread infestations of invasive species and to use biological control as a viable component for integrated invasive pest management efforts.
FHTET-BC program benefits resource managers by providing assistance in:
- Increased awareness of scientific information, technology, and implementation of biological control via publications and FHTET-sponsored workshops/meetings
- More coordinated and focused funding for biological control.
- Form partnerships and coordinate the development and implementation of biological control technologies.
FHTET-BC Program – 1995 through 1999
The initial five years (1995 through 1999) of the FHTET-BC Program were devoted to a comprehensive overview of the past history of biological control attempts for established invasive forest pests and documenting the recently introduced pests that were appropriate for Biocontrol. These reviews were published as were the results of four sponsored meetings, all of which provided the initial basis for initiation of projects beyond 1999.
The extensive list of established invasive species introduced on forest and rangelands in the U.S. as well as potential non-native species required the FHTET-BC program to focus its resources on a few priority insect and weed species that appeared to have the greatest potential for biological control. In the US, program staff focused on strengthening ongoing Biocontrol programs for arthropod species established in limited geographical areas (e.g. hemlock woolly adelgid and beech scale) with the specific management objective of searching for and establishing additional natural enemies for each selected invasive species. Also, we were requested to provide assistance internationally in the development of biological control efforts for the pink hibiscus mealybug in Puerto Rico and Sirex woodwasp in several regions in Brazil. Because non-native invasive plants make up a large percentage of the species diversity in each state and numerous invasive species occupy the same site, species were selected for biological control based on their invasiveness. An effort was initiated to develop a biological control program for mile-a-minute, which is an invasive weed from China and Japan that was rapidly spreading in the Northeast.
The overseas exploration efforts to locate natural enemies and conduct host range tests were coordinated with Forest Service International Programs (Asian Pacific Coordinator) who provided many opportunities through financial support and contacts in China.
FHTET-BC – 2000 through 2004
The next five years (2000 through 2004) of the FHTET-BC Program focused on publishing documents, sponsoring meetings, continuing ongoing biological control projects, and initiating new projects to manage invasive species in forest ecosystems.
Major progress was made in searching for, locating, and rearing natural enemies of hemlock woolly adelgid in U.S. quarantine facilities, and then releasing and monitoring these natural enemies for establishment and impacts. Two species of coccinelids and a derodontid were released in the U.S. for control of hemlock woolly adelgid. These natural enemies were recovered from hemlock woolly adelgid populations in China, Japan, and British Columbia. Efforts to locate parasitoids of beech scale were not successful. Natural enemies of pink hibiscus mealybug and Sirex woodwasp were released and established in Puerto Rico and Brazil, respectively. Classical biological control efforts were initiated for emerald ash borer, ambermarked birch leafminer, and elongate hemlock scale.
Classical biological control efforts were initiated for non-native invasive plants: kudzu, Japanese knotweed, garlic mustard, and tree-of-heaven. A weevil from China, Rhinoncomimus latipes that feeds on mile-a-minute was approved for release in the U.S. in 2003; releases of this weevil were made in NJ and DE in 2004.
International Programs continued to provide much needed financial assistance in support of foreign exploration and host range testing.
FHTET-BC Program – 2005 through 2011
The program focus continued on publishing documents, sponsoring meetings, and continuing biological control projects. The biological control efforts were initiated for gold spotted oak borer, as well as for and Chinese privet.
About Biological Control
Biological control – the reduction of an organism’s population density through use of its natural enemies – has been recognized as being one of the most effective and cost-efficient long-term approaches for managing invasive species. Natural enemies (parasites, predators, herbivores, and pathogens) reduce the population of hosts; in turn, host abundance influences the population levels of natural enemies.
“Classical” biological control is the intentional introduction of non-native natural enemies for permanent establishment and long-term control of invasive species in the infested areas. It is a strategy that has been used extensively to control non-native invasive species. It is a long-term process: successful classical biological control programs tend to average 10 years from the discovery and evaluation of natural enemies to their release and establishment in an infested area. Successful weed Biocontrol programs begin with localized damage to individual plants and finish with a sustained regional reduction in the plant population.