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Northern Research Station
11 Campus Blvd., Suite 200
Newtown Square, PA 19073
(610) 557-4017
(610) 557-4132 TTY/TDD

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Pathology and Microbial Control of Insects


The Northern Research Station has realigned our staff from 37 Research Work Units and Programs into 14 new Research Work Units.

RWU-4507 is now part of NRS-4, Genetics, Biological Control, and Management of Invasive Species.

Our Mission

[Photo]: Microbiologist applies the EcNPV baculovirus for control of the browntail moth in Maine.

To evaluate the effectiveness of entomopathogens in regulating pest populations that impact the health of forest trees and to optimize their use as biologically based technologies within a framework of sustainable forest management.


Chemical sprays were long considered the best way to control insect pests that feed upon and damage urban and forest trees. However attitudes about how to protect our nation's forests have changed dramatically over the past 10 years because of the public's concern about human health and the environment. Chemical pesticides have been replaced largely by microbial pesticides such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), and efforts are ongoing to develop more specific viral pesticides such as Gypchek, the natural gypsy moth viral product, and other biorational pest control products such as pheromones.  There is national interest in using classical biological control agents such as parasites and pathogens to manage pest populations that threaten the health of America's trees and forests. This new emphasis is welcomed by our scientists, who have been effectively pursuing this avenue of research for many years. Scientists in our research unit, the only one of its kind in the Forest Service, are trained in insect pathology, microbiology, and entomology, and are experienced in conducting both laboratory bioassays and large area replicated field experiments. 

Current research and development focus areas include:

  • Development and evaluation of the technology required to optimize the use of Gypchek against the gypsy moth in forested and urban ecosystems,
  • Development of the technology to optimize the use of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) for use against native and exotic defoliating insects, and
  • Completion of the evaluation of the potential for utilizing host-specific entomopathogens such as microsporidia as a component of an integrated pest management strategy against the gypsy moth.

More Information

This site is under development as the Forest Service brings together the Northeastern and North Central Research Stations to form the Northern Research Station, serving the Northeast and Midwest. Check back often as we expand our site to reflect our combined commitment to supporting the natural resources and people of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States.

For more details about our research visit

Last Modified: 12/21/2007