Rhode Island IPM Report, 2019

NEERA meeting: May 1, 2019, College Park, MD

Heather Faubert and Lisa Tewksbury, Program Co-Coordinators, URI Dept. of Plant Science and Entomology


  • URI received a permit to release Hypena opulenta, a biological control agent of swallow-worts in August, 2017. Releases were made in Massachusetts and Rhode Island in 2018. There is a large interest in this project with stakeholders in Rhode Island and throughout the Northeast. We are collaborating with biocontrol researchers and land managers in RI, MA, CT, NY, ME, MI, and NJ. Many of these collaborators will be collecting data to evaluate the effectiveness of this biocontrol agent.
  • The lily leaf beetle biological project collaborated with New York, Connecticut, Washington, and Vermont to release lily leaf beetle parasitoids. The lily leaf beetle has been moving into new states and there is interest in facilitating the movement of parasitoids to help manage this pest. We continue to receive positive anecdotal information from areas where parasitoids were released many years ago that lily leaf beetle populations are still at low levels.
  • The biological control of Phragmites project has progressed to the point of submitting a petition for release for two biological control agents; both moth species. Petition was just approved (April 2019) and the Environmental Assessment is being written.
  • Mile-a-minute is a pervasive problem in Rhode Island. URI released 5,000 Rhinoncomimus latipes weevils, a biological control agent of mile-a-minute in Rhode Island in 2018. We also released 2,100 Larinus obtusus in Rhode Island, which is a biological control agent of knapweed. In both cases it is still a bit early to identify if the programs are successful.
  • Landscapers and plant owner had been spraying landscapes for many years to control winter moth caterpillars and then gypsy moths starting in 2015. We educated growers, landscapers, and the public about the demise of gypsy moths and the reduced population of winter moths. We spread this message at Landscape meetings, fruit grower meetings, Master Gardener presentations, Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association newsletters, and email messages to hundreds of recipients, as well as newspaper articles. Heather Faubert gave 23 presentations to 1,370 individuals about ornamental pests. These presentations and direct contacts led to reduced use of pesticides in Rhode Island aimed at controlling winter moths and gypsy moths.
  • In 2018 there were dying oaks in areas with three years of gypsy moth defoliation, but by August it was noticed that living oaks (those that had leafed out in the spring) were now dying. These trees were inspected and Agrilus bilineatus (2-lined chestnut borers) were found in galleries under the bark of dying trees. Since 2014 URI and RI DEM have conducted biosurveillance for EAB using the solitary wasp, Cerceris fumipennis. All non-target Buprestids have been identified and counted in these surveys, and this allowed us to see that within this survey, the number of A. bilineatus has increased since 2014, and dramatically increased in 2017 and 2018. We hypothesize that this is due to the stress oak trees have endured due to drought and gypsy moth defoliation. Two lined chestnut borers are known to attack stressed oak trees. We intend to assist landscapers and homeowners by identifying this problem on oaks and educating them about treatment options.
  • Part of the decline of winter moths can be attributed to the establishment of the parasitoid, Cyzenis albicans. We have recovered the Tachinid fly at 6 of 8 release sites. We released the parasitoid from 2011–2017.
  • Twilight meetings and other educational programs were conducted for vegetable growers, grape growers, Christmas tree growers, tree fruit growers and small fruit growers.
  • The URI Plant Clinic supports efforts in Landscape IPM and Fruit IPM. We received and diagnosed 400 plant and insect samples, and 200 were from landscapes.