PULLMAN, Wash. — Entomology research in the Northwest received a boost yesterday (8/14) when Washington State University’s Northwest Biocontrol Insectary and Quarantine facility was certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Terry Miller, WSU quarantine officer, said certification was awarded after an inspection by Bhisham Singh, a USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service official from Washington, D.C.
It is the only certified insect quarantine facility in the Northwest.
Certification allows scientists at WSU to receive direct shipments of beneficial insects from foreign sources. Scientists then evaluate the insects for safety and their potential as natural enemies of pests that damage Pacific Northwest crops.
Having a certified quarantine facility on campus will save entomologists time and money.
Wednesday’s action was the first certification of the WSU facility, which is part of the entomology department’s Biological Control Program.
Until now, when WSU and USDA scientists have wanted to import insects for study, the insects had to be quarantined elsewhere at a certified facility.
Current research through WSU’s Biological Control Program includes both beneficial and harmful insects and mites that affect grain and other cultivated crops as well as rangeland and forest production.
In one project alone — biological control of Russian wheat aphid — scientists have released over three quarters of a million biocontrol agents representing 34 types of insects. They have been released in 18 Washington counties since 1988.
Entomology faculty also have broadened the U.S. gene pool of exotic natural enemies of the Russian wheat aphid by collecting specimens in Morocco, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Chile, Brazil and Argentina.
Future projects include foreign exploration for natural enemies of cherry bark tortrix, a pest of fruit and ornamental trees, and for enemies of Hessian fly and cereal leaf beetle, which attack grain crops.
Biological controls help reduce the amount of chemical pesticides released in the environment.
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