Scientists & Staff

Melody A. Keena

Melody Keena

Research Entomologist
51 Mill Pond Road
Hamden, CT, 06514
Phone: 203-230-4308

Contact Melody Keena


Current Research

  • I develop biological and ecological information and technologies to detect, monitor, contain, and eliminate newly introduced invasive insects that are threats to U.S.
  • I also maintain the capability to expand research on and respond rapidly to threats posed by Asian gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) and nun moth (Lymantria monacha), and other high priority invasive insect species.

My research time is currently divided between:

  1. Completing research on the influence of Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) mating behaviors on establishment and viability of ALB populations;
  2. Expanding on a phenology model for ALB to predict population increase and potential risk of establishment accross the US;
  3. Doing collaborative research to improve on the ALB trap and lure combination that will make it more effective for detecting this insect at low population levels;
  4. Doing collaborative research on ALB to determine the role host moisture content (both in living and cut wood) has on its development.
  5. Doing collaborative research to identify of genetic markers that predict female flight in gypsy moths.
  6. Determining of response variability to factors (e.g. temperatures, available hosts) that affect establishment of gypsy moth from different world areas.
  7. Collaboratively developing a  phenology model for predicting the presence of all Asian gypsy moth stages and potential distribution of AGM in the US.
  8. Doing collaborative research on the role that EAB mating behaviors have on fecundity and fertility.

Research Interests

Future research may include:
  1. Potential traps and lures for detecting citrus longhorned beetle.
  2. Doing new research on a newly introduced or high risk invasive forest insect.

Why This Research is Important

With the ever-increasing volume of world trade and travel, the numbers of new introductions of forest insect pests has increased over the last few years. The most effective strategy against invasive species is to prevent them from being introduced and becoming established in new ecosystems. However, there is a significant lack of information needed to identify high risk nonnative species and priority pathways of introduction. Many of the species that are introduced may never establish, but those that do may become serious invasive pests due to the absence of natural enemies and host resistance in native species that did not co-evolve with the insect. Once these new pests have established, a quick and coordinated response to new infestations can significantly reduce environmental and economic impacts. In order to deal with these potential or established invasive pests there is a critical need to develop biological and ecological information on which to base exclusion, eradication, or containment decisions.

The Asian longhorned beetle is a native insect of China and little information about this insect was available when it was first found infesting trees in New York City in 1996. Tools to effectively detect beetle populations are still needed and there continues to be a need to increase the knowledge of the life history, ecology, reproductive behavior, and seasonal phenology of the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) to provide the biological basis for predicting potential dispersal, developmental phenology, timing of exclusion and eradication methodologies, and development of trapping methods

The emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis, is a non-native insect from Asia that threatens ash trees in our urban and natural forests. EAB was found in metropolitan Detroit, MI, in July 2002 and continues to spread to additional areas and states. EAB has no known effective natural enemies in North America and control options, other than tree removal, are extremely limited. If left unchecked, the pest will continue to infest and destroy native and ornamental ash trees, resulting in losses of billions of dollars to the lumber and nursery industries as well as urban communities. Without an effective and efficient laboratory rearing method for EAB, mass rearing of parasitoids in numbers needed for field-testing/release will be extremely limited.

The hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), Adelges tsugae (Annand), is an exotic pest native to Asia and western North America. It was first discovered in eastern North America in 1951 near Richmond, VA and has since spread to 17 eastern states threatening two species of hemlock--the eastern hemlock, Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carr., and Carolina hemlock, Tsuga caroliniana Engelm. The HWA has caused extensive mortality and decline of hemlock trees in the eastern U.S. and there are no effective native natural enemies to keep this invasive pest in balance. Thus, establishment of a complex of natural enemies from the native range of HWA offers the greatest potential for providing sustainable long-term control.

The most effective strategy against invasive species is to prevent them from being introduced and becoming established in new ecosystems. But there is a significant lack of information needed to identify high risk nonnative species and priority pathways of introduction. The nun moth, Lymantria monacha, is closely related to gypsy moth and is considered to have high potential to be introduced into this country via commerce. Research and technology development on nun moth has provided information and tools for early detection and rapid response. Gypsy moths from Eurasia continue to be introduced into North America and research provides information needed to reduce the risk of introductions and eradicate detected populations before they establish.

Professional Experience

  • Research Entomologist , Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Hamden, CT 1992 - Current
  • Research Associate I, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 1989 - 1992
  • Post Graduate Researcher IV, Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, CA 1988 - 1989
  • Research Assistant, Entomology Department, University of California, Davis, CA 1982 - 1988

Professional Organizations

  • Entomological Society of America (2016 - Current)
    Editorial Board for Environmental Entomology
    Evaluate submissions, assign reviewers, and determine if the manuscript is suitable for publication
  • Pennsylvania State University (2008 - Current)
    Graduate Student Committees
    This involves serving on graduate student thesis or dissertation committees and conducting joint research with faculty at the university.
  • Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Coordinating Committee (2007 - Current)
    Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Coordinating Committee
    This assignment includes developing detailed action plans to accompany the HWA initiative and preparing periodic reports on activities and accomplishments for interested constituents.
  • Entomological Society of America (1983 - Current)
    Standing committees and elected positons as indicated
    Active member of the society. Serve on various committees, in elected positons, and organize symposia.
  • International Congress Of Entomology (2013 - 2016)
    Technology Committee, Part of convening committee
    This involves overseeing the technology to be used in putting on the meeting. At the meeting the committee will help people upload their presentations, troubleshoot during sessions, and make sure the correct presentations were in each session room for each time slot.
  • Entomological Society of America (2012 - 2015)
    Member of the Journal of Integrated Pest Management Editorial Board
    This committee oversees the journal and resolves issues with manuscripts when needed.
  • Entomological Society of America (2012 - 2015)
    National Program Committee
    In 2013, this involves co-organizing and overseeing the student 10-minute papers and posters competition for the annual meeting. In 2014, this involves co-organizing and overseeing the entire scientific program for the national meeting. In 2015, this involves co-organizing and overseeing the member poster presentations for the national meeting.
  • Entomological Society of America (2009 - 2011)
    Governing Board Representative for the Integrative Physiological and Molecular Insect Systems section
    This involved overseeing the affairs and budget of the society. This was done in my personal capacity.
  • Entomological Society of America (2008 - 2008)
    Integrative Physiological and Molecular Insect Systems section
    This was a new role when the Entomological society reorganized the sections. This involved helping the new leadership of the section to know and fulfill their roles.
  • Entomological Society of America (2007 - 2007)
    Section B
    This involved leading the section, serving on the program committee, organizing the section's scientific program, and finding needed volunteers for various committees.
  • Entomological Society of America (2002 - 2007)
    Finance Committee
    This involved evaluating the proposed annual budget for the society and making recommendations to the governing board. This was done in my personal capacity.
  • Entomological Society of America (2006 - 2006)
    Seciton B
    This involved planning the next year's symposia for the section, leading the section when the chair was not available and participation on the executive committee for the section.
  • Entomological Society of America (2005 - 2005)
    Section B
    This involved taking the minutes for the section and participation on the executive committee for the section.
  • Entomological Society of America (2005 - 2005)
    Member
    This involved helping people upload their presentations, troubleshooting during sessions, and making sure the correct presentations were in each session room for each time slot.

Awards & Recognition

  • Editor's Choice Award, 2008 Best Article in Environmental Entomology 2008.
  • USDA Special Act Award, 1992 For excellent systematic research to solve gypsy moth rearing problems related to the abnormal performance syndrome.
  • Departmental Citation, 1983 Recognition of outstanding undergraduate accomplishment in Entomology. University of California, Davis, CA.

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Asian gypsy moth larva defoliating Douglas fir. Melody A. Keena, U.S. Department of Agriculuture Forest Service.

Not all Asian Gypsy Moths Pose the Same Threat

Year: 2016

Asian gypsy moths vary greatly in key biological and behavioral traits. Knowing the origin and traits associated with the source population of introductions will improve our ability to predict the consequences for different geographic regions and aid in developing effective management strategies.

An Asian long-horned beetle larva, and the damage it causes inside the maple tree. USDA Forest Service

New Online Resource on Asian Longhorned-Beetle

Year: 2015

A new, open-access article in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management provides a comprehensive overview written in plain language for managers and the public about the Asian longhorned beetle. It includes a review of its biology, life stages, distribution, ecology, and methods of detecting and controlling the beetle.

Male Asian longhorned beetle choosing the branch with the sex trail pheromone Melody Keena, USDA Forest Service

Female Asian Longhorned Beetles Lure Mates With a Trail of Sex Pheromone

Year: 2014

Female Asian longhorned beetles lure males to their locations by laying down a sex-specific pheromone trail on the surfaces of trees. This finding by Forest Service researchers and partners could lead to the development of a tool to manage this invasive pest of about 25 tree species in the United States.

Adult Asian longhorned beetle newly emerged from an artificial pupal cell with the exit hole showing. Melody Keena, USDA Forest Service

New Information Will Help Eradicate Asian Longhorned Beetles

Year: 2013

Eradication efforts against Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) rely on knowledge of the basic biology and behavior of this insect. Forest Service scientists now can predict when the first adults will emerge each year, a date critical for deploying pheromone traps and other detection devices. Knowing the time it takes for ALB adults to completely bore out of host wood and the effects of temperature on this process was a missing link needed to develop a complete life cycle model.

Researchers checking an Asian longhorned beetle trap in Worcester, MA.  Melody Keena, Forest Service

Strong Demand for New Tool for Detecting Asian Longhorn Beetle

Year: 2012

Beetle traps are now being used in 14 States and three countries

Female Asian longhorned beetle found in trap in Worcester, MA.  Melody Keena, Forest Service

Trap for Detecting Asian Longhorned Beetle in the United States

Year: 2010

Development of an operationally effective trap has been a goal of the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) eradication program since the first individual ALB was found in New York in 1996. A trap that can demonstrate the presence of the ALB in an area is critical to detecting and eliminating infestations. A trap that is capable of detecting ALB at low densities in quarantine zones can also provide positive confirmation of successful eradication. NRS scientist Melody Keena was part of an interagency and university effort that developed the traps for ALB.

Last modified: Thursday, April 13, 2017