This experiment is part of the Entomological Society of America Grant Challenge Challenge Grant. Browse more projects

Impacts of a new invasive aphid pest in North America

Raised of $3,150 Goal
Funded on 3/03/19
Successfully Funded
  • $3,180
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 3/03/19

Project Results

To determine the distribution of new invasive aphid, Metopolophium festucae cerealium (Mfc) in the Pacific Northwest, USA, we sampled 36 sites (1-4 times each) in Idaho, Montana, and Washington during June-July of 2019.  We surveyed Mfc by taking 150 sweep samples along two transects at each of the 36 sites. The collected Mfc, along with other aphids, were identified, counted, and mapped. Since this year is mostly aphid-free year, we collected fewer Mfc in 2019 compared to last year. Other aphids monitered in this region were also significantly lower this year compared to last years (for example, see: Nevertheless, the new invasive aphid is still expanding, as it was detected this year for the first time from southern Idaho (see map). 

We thank you all again for your generous support to this project. We will continue our Mfc survey and monitoring in the coming years too.

About This Project

Through surveys, this project will delineate the expanding range of a new invasive aphid, Metopolophium festucae cerealium (Mfc) in the Pacific Northwest. A known pest of cereal crops in its native range in the UK, this pest became abundant in wheat at many locations in the Pacific Northwest by 2011. The extent of its current distribution, whether it is spreading, and how much injury it causes will be assessed through the work of this project.

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What is the context of this research?

Metopolophium festucae cerealium, Mfc, is a new species in North America, and very little is known about its ecology, invasive range, or its role as a disease vector. Many aphids transmit plant viruses, which makes them a major risk to crops. Now that Mfc has been found in the US, it's important to identify how it interacts with other aphids in managed and natural ecosystems. As a first step, we will determine the distribution, range, and abundance of this pest in cereal crops and natural grasslands in the Northwestern US

What is the significance of this project?

Wheat is a key crop in the drylands of Pacific Northwest, but several insect pests reduce its yield annually. Like other aphids in the Pacific Northwest, this new invasive aphid may cause yield losses by feeding plant tissues, by transmitting viruses to the plants, or both. Hence, determining the severity of infestation of this economically important invasive aphid pest is important to formulate control methods and minimize or prevent the further spread. Furthermore, the presence of the aphid in natural habitats of the Pacific Northwest is not well described, so its presence and potential to influence these ecosystems remains unknown.

What are the goals of the project?

The first goal of this project is to determine through surveys the occurrence, abundance, and impacts of a new invasive aphid in North America in annual cereal crops and in natural and semi-natural grassland habitats across the region. The second goal is to communicate this information to the public to help citizens and producers respond to the presence of this aphid. By taking 150 sweep samples along two transects at each site, we will sample 50 wheat fields and 50 grassland habitats in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Montana during the periods of its likely peak abundance. The collected Mfc will be counted to determine abundance and severity (% of samples in each transect containing Mfc) and the results will be shared with the growers and public.


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Funds will purchase:

Materials for survey work (e.g., sweep nets, vials, labels, bags, alcohol etc.)

Mileage (approximately 3,000 miles X $0.55 using the University vehicle) during the surveys across Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Montana.

Labor ($12 X 100 hrs ) to conduct the surveys, to identify aphids, and to prepare extension publications to disseminate information for farmers and the public.

Endorsed by

I am really excited by this project and its potential to learn more about the progress of invasion by this aphid species. Without this work, we will not know if its range is expanding and how it can affect managed and natural systems. Dr. Adhikari is ideally suited to conduct this research.
With potential negative impacts of this invasive aphid species through direct (feeding damage) and indirect (as vector of cereal viruses) damage, it is highly critical to identify its range, to monitor population fluctuations, to determine its reservoirs, and finally, to understand dynamics of its seasonal movement from natural reservoirs onto cultivated crops. I strongly support this project and believe that Dr. Adhikari is a highly qualified scientist to tackle this task.
As a life-long aphid enthusiast, taxonomist, and natural historian, I am very interested in Mfc and this project. My field work in the forests, fields, and mountains of western North America indicates that Mfc is widespread in natural and seminatural systems. A thorough accounting of its whereabouts, host plant use, and life cycle, as proposed here, could finally connect the populations I see to wheat where the aphid matters most.

Project Timeline

Our project time period is for six months: we plan to start our project in April/May and end in September of 2019

Feb 01, 2019

Project Launched

Apr 15, 2019

Project planning          

Aug 31, 2019

 Survey Completed  

Sep 30, 2019

Identification/result dissemination

Meet the Team

Subodh Adhikari
Subodh Adhikari
Postdoctoral Researcher


University of Idaho (Entomology, Plant Pathology, and Nematology)
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ying wu
ying wu
Research Support Scientist


University of idaho, Entomology, Plant Pathology, and Nematology
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Subodh Adhikari

I am a postdoctoral researcher working on the effects of climate change resilient alternative cropping systems on pests (weed and insect) and beneficial insects (e.g., bees) at field and landscape scales. Since Mfc is a new invasive species for North America, details of its ecology are not known. Hence, it is important to determine its distribution range and abundance in cereal systems and natural grasslands. Our concerted sampling efforts funded through this project will help to seek ways to minimize the threats and impacts posed by this new invasive aphid in the Pacific Northwest.

ying wu

As a research support scientist, I conduct research on the ecology and chemical ecology of pests affecting cereal and pulse crops in the Pacific Northwest region. My work includes field sampling and identification of aphids, maintaining many different aphid colonies in the greenhouse. I also manage the chemical ecology lab which includes GCMS and other lab equipments and supervise students in the lab and the field.

Additional Information

The aphid is different from most others affecting wheat in the Pacific Northwest because it causes staining on the leaves, evidently due to a toxin in its saliva. The staining is shown here. Through ongoing studies with this aphid, beyond this project, we hope to determine the basis for this unique injury. Photo by Brad Stokes.

Project Backers

  • 83Backers
  • 100%Funded
  • $3,180Total Donations
  • $30.85Average Donation
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