Scientists & Staff

Therese Poland

Therese M. Poland

Project Leader / Research Entomologist
3101 Technology Blvd., Ste. F
Lansing, MI, 48910
Phone: 517-884-8062

Contact Therese M. Poland


Current Research

My current research is focused on detection and control of invasive forest insect pests, including the emerald ash borer (EAB) and other bark- and wood-boring beetles. 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.  Bark- and wood-boring beetles are among the most destructive forest insect pests.

My research objectives are to develop improved detection and trapping tools for EAB and other bark- and wood-boring beetles.  I am also investigating control methods for EAB, such as the use of systemic insecticides, biological control with natural enemies, and development of integrated area-wide management programs for EAB.

Research Interests

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.   Early detection is critical for effective eradication and management of new infestations.  I am conducting research to develop improved traps for detection of emerald ash borer and new trapping and survey protocols for broad-range detection of bark- and wood-boring beetles.  New  tools are needed to manage and control established populations of invasive species. Management approaches include chemical, cultural, and biological control.  I am conducting research to evaluate the efficacy of systemic insecticides for controlling emerald ash borer 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 performance 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

With ever-increasing world trade and travel, the number of exotic insect introductions in the United States has been escalating in recent years. The majority of these exotic invaders are wood-infesting insects that arrive in solid wood packing materials such as pallets and containers.  Economically-important invasive insects in North America may not be pests in their country of origin due to the existence of natural enemies and resistance in native host species that co-evolved in the native range. Invasive 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.

Professional Experience

  • Research Entomologist, USDA Forest Service 1997 - Current
  • Research Assistant, PheroTech, Inc. 1997 - 1997
  • Research Assistant, Theodor D. Sterling and Associates, Ltd. 1987 - 1991

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
  • Chief's Honor Award for International Forestry, 2002 For cooperative research with Chinese entomologists on forest insects of mutual concern, including the Asian longhorned beetle and the pine shoot beetle. Awarded as a member of the 5-member invasive species research team.
  • North Central Research Station Technology Transfer Award, 1999 For excellence in developing and transferring new knowledge on the pine shoot beetle to USDA APHIS for the formulation of new federal quarantine regulations. Awarded as a member of the 5-member pine shoot beetle research team.

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Emerald ash borer larva feeding on insecticide-treated artificial diet.  Tina Ciarmitaro, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Control of Emerald Ash Borer with Systemic Insecticides

Year: 2016

Several systemic insecticide products were evaluated to determine toxicity to emerald ash borer (EAB) adults and larvae and were found to provide variable levels of control. Ash trees have sectored flow that could lead to uneven distribution of insecticides in tree crowns and could partially explain variability in control of EAB. Systemic insecticides provide viable options for protecting landscape trees from EAB.

Emerald ash borer adult on a twig. USDA Forest Service

Functional Genomics of Emerald Ash Borer: Identifying Odor Processing Genes and Gene Blocking for Alternative Pest Management

Year: 2015

The emerald ash borer (EAB) has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America since its discovery in 2002 and threatens the entire ash resource. Forest Service scientists sequenced identified candidate genes that function in odor processing. They also identified three RNA interference core component genes in the EAB transcriptome and demonstrated gene knockdown. Greater understanding of the function and knockdown of genes involved in odor perception, feeding, or digestion could lead to development of alternative pest management strategies.

Interns put EAB eggs on trees: Summer interns set up bioassay experiment by taping EAB eggs to test trees. USDA Forest Service

Green Ash Trees That Survive Beetle Infestation Pass on Their Resistance Through Propagation and Planting

Year: 2015

Among the tens of millions of trees killed by the emerald ash borer (EAB), researchers have found a small number of trees that survived their assault. Tests show that these surviving ash trees are more resistant to EAB than their counterparts. Breeding these select trees may produce trees with an even greater ability to survive EAB infestation and will provide seedlings to restore ash in areas destroyed by EAB.

Forest Service technician Tina Ciaramitaro and biological aide Tom Baweja submerge infested black ash logs in a stream. USDA Forest Service

Controlling Emerald Ash Borer and Preserving Black Ash for Native American Basketmaking

Year: 2015

Emerald ash borer threatens the survival of all ash species in North America. The black ash tree has great cultural significance to Native Americans, who use the wood for basketmaking. Working with Native American basketmakers in Michigan, Forest Service scientists found that submerging infested black ash logs in streams of running water for 14 weeks in spring or 18 weeks in winter killed all emerald ash borer larvae and preserved wood quality.

Forest Service technician Tina Ciaramitaro and student Tom Baweja collect Emerald Ash Borers from a double-decker trap. Therese Poland, USDA Forest Service.

Optimizing Trap Designs for Emerald Ash Borer

Year: 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.

Forest Service technician Tina Ciaramitaro heading out to set up Fluon-coated multiple funnel traps to capture wood boring beetles. Therese Poland, USDA Forest Service

Building a Better Bug Trap

Year: 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.

Emerald ash borer adult feeding on an ash leaf. Deborah Miller Forest Service

Scientists Determine the Chemistry Between Ash Trees and Emerald Ash Borer Beetle

Year: 2012

What makes some ash species so susceptible to emerald ash borer and others less susceptible

Tom and Tina Tossing a Log in the River. Therese Poland, Forest Service

Reducing Negative Cultural Impacts of Emerald Ash Borer: Saving Black Ash Wood for Native American Basketmakers

Year: 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.

Last modified: Thursday, November 02, 2017