Research in our lab focuses on the diversity and impacts of herbivory from arundo herbivores already present in North America, as well as evaluation of novel insects and pathogens for potential use as biological control agents.
We detected the arundo wasp (Tetramesa romana Walker) feeding in Arundo stems in southern California in 2006. This European insect was an accidential introduction in this region, although timing and mode of introduction remain unknown. Currently, the wasp is distributed along the California coast from Santa Barbara County south to Baja California in Mexico, but may continuing to expand its range as we recently (2013) detected new populations in the Mojave River, Victorville, CA.
Naturalized populations have also been found in Texas, so this species has most likely been present in North America for several decades. Additional insect populations from Europe were evaluated and augmentatively released in Texas by the USDA.
Our Lab continues to track the range expansion and population demographics in Arundo stands in the southwest US and evaluate the direct and indirect effects of wasp herbivory on target plants.