Browse by Subject
Contact Information

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

You are here: NRS Home / Research Programs / Genetics and Management of Invasive Forest Insect Pests
Genetics and Management of Invasive Insects


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

RWU-4509 is now part of NRS-4, Genetics, Biological Control, and Management of Invasive Species.

Our Mission

To develop biologically based controls and management strategies for invasive forest insect pests and diseases and to improve the use of beneficial fungi.


Invasive insects, plants, and microbes have had and continue to have a significant deleterious impact on U.S. forests. It’s estimated that approximately 50,000 species of plants, microbes and animals have been introduced into the U.S. Most of the invertebrate animal (e.g., gypsy moth, zebra mussel) and microbe (e.g., Ophiostoma novo-ulmi, Nectria coccinea) introductions were accidental, whereas vertebrate animal (e.g., cattle, poultry) and plant introductions (e.g., corn, wheat) were mostly intentional. The economic impact of 79 nonindigenous species over the period from 1906-1991 was estimated by the Office of Technology Assessment to be $97 billion in damages. More recently, it’s estimated that economic damages caused by nonindigenous species and costs for control and management of these species exceed $137 billion per year. Native forest insect pests and diseases also cause losses of approximately 18% of forest products (e.g., lumber, pulp) valued at $9.8 billion annually. Moreover, insect pests and diseases (e.g., fusarium) are problems in tree nurseries, which increase the costs of trees for urban planting and reforestation efforts.

Our scientists are focused on development of control techniques and management strategies for the gypsy moth, emerald ash borer, browntail moth, beech bark disease, Dutch elm disease, and chestnut blight. Specific activities include 1) development of economical production methods for the gypsy moth baculovirus in cell culture bioreactors, 2) development of the browntail moth baculovirus for control of the browntail moth, 3) development and use of more economical screens to identify Bacillus thuringiensis isolates for use as forest insect pest control agents, 4) identification and development of means of propagating American beech tree strains with resistance to beech bark disease, 5) generation of American elm tree strains with enhanced tolerance or resistance to Dutch elm disease, 6) identification and development of ash tree strains that are resistant to the emerald ash borer, 7) a project to restore the American elm to forested landscapes, 8) screening American chestnut tree progeny for resistance to chestnut blight in collaboration with The American Chestnut Foundation 9) development of DNA based methods for identification and management of invasive species, and 10) identification of beneficial fungi for use in coal mine land reclamation efforts.

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 contact Project Leader James Slavicek.

Last Modified: 12/21/2007