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Therese Poland collecting bark beetles from a Lindgren multiple funnel trap

Therese M. Poland

Project Leader / Research Entomologist
Ecology and Management of Invasive Species and Forest Ecosystems
3101 Technology Blvd., Ste. F
Lansing, Michigan 48910
Phone: 517-884-8062

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Current Research

My current research is focused on detection and control of invasive forest insect pests, particularly the emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). EAB is a phloem-feeding beetle native to Asia that was discovered in Detroit, MI, and Windsor, Ontario in July 2002. It has caused widespread decline and mortality of ash (Fraxinus sp.).

Initially, very little was known about EAB, and the only means to detect and control infestations was to locate infested trees based on visual symptoms and then destroy the trees by cutting them down, chipping them, and burning the chips.

My research objectives are to investigate several aspects of EAB biology, including its seasonal development, semiochemical ecology, dispersal capabilities, within-tree distribution, and host finding and mating behavior. I am also investigating control methods, such as the use of systemic insecticides and biological control with natural enemies.

Research Interests

I plan to continue conducting research that addresses four strategies for managing invasive species:
  1. predicting and preventing establishment of invasive pests,
  2. detecting and eradicating invasive pests,
  3. managing and controlling invasives, and
  4. restoring landscapes affected by invasives.

Preventing establishment offers the most promise for protecting forested landscapes from environmental and economic losses due to invasive species. Early detection is critical for effective eradication and management of new infestations. Much of my research involves developing new trapping tools for detection and monitoring of invasive species, including identification of insect- and host-produced volatile attractants and testing new trap designs.   New  tools are needed to manage and control infestations, including biological, chemical, and cultural control for exotic forest insect pests.  I am conducting research to evaluate the efficacy of systemic insecticides and am collaborating on research to determine the establishment and impact of natural enemies for biological control of emerald ash borer.  I am also collaborating on research to determine emerald ash borer preferences and perforamance on potentially resistant ash species or cultivars that could be used to restore ash in forests decimated by emerald ahs borer.

Past Research

I have conducted research on other invasive forest pests including the pine shoot beetle and the Asian longhorned beetle.  I investigated the chemical ecology of the pine shoot beetle including development of improved attractive lures, and inhibition of attraction using non-host volatiles.  I also studied dispersal of pine shoot beetle and its phenology across a north/south gradient.  Research on the Asian longhorned beetle included field and laboratory evaluation of the toxicity of systemic insecticides and development of an acoustic detection system  to locate infested trees.

Why This Research is Important

Exotic forest insects such as EAB threaten North American forests and natural resources. Native trees lack co-evolved defense mechanisms and exotic pests often invade without their associated natural enemies. Interactions of invasive pests with native ecosystems are unknown. Information on the biology, detection and management of invasive species is critical for protecting native forests and natural resources


  • Simon Fraser University, Ph.D. , 1997
  • Simon Fraser University, M.P.M. , 1993
  • Simon Fraser University, B.Sc. , 1988

Professional Experience

  • Research Entomologist USDA Forest Service
    1997 - Current
    conduct research on economically important forest insect pests
  • Research Assistant PheroTech, Inc.
    1997 - 1997
    conduct research on semiochemical-based management of forest insect pests
  • Research Assistant Theodor D. Sterling and Associates, Ltd.
    1987 - 1991
    technical assistant for environmental health research

Professional Organizations

  • Entomological Society of America
  • Entomological Society of Canada
  • Michigan Entomological Society
  • Entomological Society of British Columbia

Awards & Recognition

  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, 2004
    For innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and for exceptional potential to shape the future through intellectual and inspired leadership
  • Chief's Honor Award for Early Career Scientists, 2002
    For innovative and timely research on newly detected exotic forest insects that allows USDA APHIS to formulate Federal quarantines based on sound science

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Building a Better Bug Trap (2013)
Recent research identified attractive pheromones for several species of wood boring beetles that may threaten forest health. Forest Service entomologists and their partners evaluated different trap types, treatment of traps with a slippery fluoropolymer (Fluon), trap placement, and combinations of different lures to determine trap combinations that capture a broad spectrum of wood boring beetles. Detection surveys that maximize the breadth of species captured would be more likely to capture potential invasive species.

Optimizing Trap Designs for Emerald Ash Borer (2014)
Since the discovery of emerald ash borer in North America in 2002, the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Agency and state regulatory agencies have struggled to detect new infestations early and enable a rapid response to mitigate tree damage. Forest Service scientists and a team of other Midwestern researchers compared the efficacy of two of the most promising trap designs and colors and found that purple double-decker traps may improve surveys for early detection of emerald ash borer.

Reducing Negative Cultural Impacts of Emerald Ash Borer: Saving Black Ash Wood for Native American Basketmakers (2011)
Black ash has great cultural and economic importance in the northeastern United States, especially for Native Americans. The widespread destruction and removal of black ash in response to an emerald ash borer (EAB) find is a painful prospect for tribes and basket-makers. An innovative collaboration between a Forest Service geographer and entomologist combining traditional knowledge with scientific expertise has found that a traditional practice offers a reasonable solution for those who depend on black ash splints.

Scientists Determine the Chemistry Between Ash Trees and Emerald Ash Borer Beetle (2012)
What makes some ash species so susceptible to emerald ash borer and others less susceptible

Last updated on : 17-Nov-2016