Name: Dr. W. Joe Lewis

Title: Research Entomologist

Research: Understanding the interaction of natural enemies, herbivores, and plants; development of technology for conserving and enhancing the efficacy of natural enemies as part of an ecologically-based farm management strategy.

Support Staff: Thoris Green

Address: Crop Protection and Management Research Unit
USDA-ARS
P.O. Box 748
Tifton, GA 31793-0748

Phone: 229-387-2369

FAX: 229-387-2321

E-Mail: WJL@tifton.usda.gov

Education: B.S. Mississippi State University, Entomology
M.S. Mississippi State University, Entomology
Ph.D. Mississippi State University, Entomology

CRIS Project Title: Sustainable Systems for Integrated Pest Management and Conservation and Enhancement of Natural Enemies

Research Goals: Research is directed toward understanding and managing the interactions of plants, herbivores and natural enemies as part of an integrated cropping system for maximum long-term net benefits. The studies are proceeding along 4 lines: 1) Better habitat management practices such as cover crops and conservation tillage; 2) Improved knowledge and use of inherent crop attributes such as plant signaling and extrafloral nectar; 3) Development of biorational therapeutic products more complimentary to the inherent strengths of the cropping system; 4) Development of more refined, practical monitoring and decision making tools that better utilize beneficial insects. The cotton production system is being used as a model with a strong emphasis on lepidopterous pests (bollworm/budworm, and armyworms) and key larval parasitoids. The project is integrated as part of a multidisciplinary/multiagency team involving soil scientists, extension personnel, agricultural consultants and grower cooperators.

Major Accomplishments:

Developed the first system for studying "in-flight" host-searching behavior of parasitoids (J. Chem. Ecol., 1986). This technology has been adopted by specialists world-wide and opened the way for unraveling how various plant and herbivore signals determine the effectiveness of parasitoids.

First showed associative learning for parasitoids and demonstrated the importance of its role in the effective performance of parasitoids as biological control agents (Nature, 1988). This discovery helped resolve many of the questions regarding variable performances of biological control agents and provided a means of greatly improving quality control for inoculative and inundative releases of parasitoids.

Discovered that plants, in response to herbivore feeding damage, can actively emit chemical distress signals that are used by parasitoids to locate and attack the herbivores (Science, 1990). This finding has provided a total new avenue for increasing the inherent strength of our cropping systems.

Demonstrated that adequate and appropriate availability of adult food is vital to the success of parasitoids as biological control agents and that extrafloral nectaries are an important source of their food (Nature, 1990). This finding together with the finding on plant signaling has greatly enhanced the interest and prospects for designing crops and cropping systems toward
preventative pest management.

Demonstrated the important role of Cotesia marginiventris and other natural enemies for the control of beet armyworm on cotton in the southeast and developed recommended practices for grower implementation (Proc. Beltwide Cotton Conf., 1994; Florida Entomol., 1994). The program has become a lead model in the southeast and expanded implementation is underway.

Demonstrated the prospects of a total systems approach for sustainable cotton production, involving conservation tillage, cover crops, and more ecologically based decision-making (Proc. Beltwide Cotton Conf., 1995). Based on these and related findings, a total multidisciplinary/multiagency team has been assembled to further develop and demonstrate these principles.

List of Publications
Dr. Lewis and Team Web Page on Biolgical Control as a Component of Sustainable Agriculture