My research program focuses on the biology and management of insects of agricultural significance in North Carolina and the southeastern United States, particularly those affecting tobacco. Over the last seven years, I have concentrated on the interactions between imidacloprid, an insecticide integral to successful tobacco production in North Carolina, and the natural enemies of caterpillar pests of tobacco, including parasitoid wasps and hemipteran predators that attack the tobacco hornworm (Manduca) complex and the tobacco budworm, Heliothis virescens; imidacloprid has little or no effect on the caterpillar species. I have also collaborated with Dr. Hannah Burrack on other applied tobacco pest management issues, including reassessments of economic thresholds for important pests and insecticide efficacy. Additionally, I have developed a separate research program on conservation biology questions associated with the Sandhills eco-region of North Carolina. In this program, we have conducted research on the response of native bee communities to prescribed fire, assessed the impact of pine straw extraction (a profitable revenue stream for Sandhills pine savanna landowners) on soil dwelling arthropods and herbaceous plants, and the reproductive ecology of three federally endangered plants found in the Sandhills. I am collaborating with Dr. Rebecca Irwin in the Department of Applied Ecology on the reproductive ecology of the Venus flytrap, another pine savanna endemic. I have also been involved in projects, in collaboration with members of the Fisheries and Wildlife Program faculty, assessing the impacts of woody biomass removal on arthropods and birds, and loblolly pine silviculture. I have no formal extension appointment, but I have supported the department’s extension mission through presentations at field days and producer meetings.
I am responsible for applied and basic research on the biology and management of arthropod pests of tobacco and other crops. My program has two primary foci: 1. The biology and management of arthropod pests and beneficials in tobacco; and 2. The interactions between soil, water, and wildlife conservation practices and pest management in row crop agriculture. Current and recent projects include investigations into the interactions between tobacco budworm resistant tobacco varieties and a parasitoid of the tobacco budworm; studies of the economics and efficacy of new, safer insecticides in tobacco culture; an evaluation of the response of populations of the tobacco budworm from across the South to insecticides; several studies into the biology and management of the Myzus aphids attacking tobacco; an evaluation of the impact of no-till culture on tobacco pest management; investigations into the biology and management of the tobacco splitworm; assessments of the pest management practices for burley tobacco grown in non-traditional area; investigations of the interactions between neonicotinoid insecticides and the parasitoids attacking the tobacco hornworm complex; and an assessment of the influence of feral vegetation field borders on pest management in cotton and soybean fields in the Neuse River basin. I am a member of the Fisheries and Wildlife Program faculty.
BS, Wildlife Biology, North Carolina State University (1980)
MS, Entomology, North Carolina State University (1984)
Ph.D, Entomology, North Carolina State University (1988)