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For Beneficial Arthropod Importation



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Protocol in Quarantine Operations

Establishing Quarantine Facilities

U.S. Dept. Agriculture Regulations

Location and Utilities


Structural Design

Packaging for Shipment



Pathogens of Pest Arthropods

Voucher Specimens

Pathogens of Weeds

Records & Reports



Primary Quarantine Facilities


Equipment and Amenities

[ Please refer also to Related Review ]



          The concept of quarantining materials and organisms to keep unwanted elements from entering new areas originated almost simultaneously with the distinction between "valuable and possibly injurious" (Fisher & Andres 1999). Much of the information on excluding unwanted plants and plant pests from world commerce through the use of quarantine has been assembled by Kahn (1988) Regulations governing the arrival of questionable materials to a country, state, province or county arose along with the establishment of quarantine facilities where transported items could be examined before passing on to their destination and assimilation into the general economy and environment. Ooi (1986) gave an overview of biological control quarantine from the perspective of developing countries.  The process of seeking effective natural enemies and importation is highly involved and demands many considerations  (Legner 1986 ).

The primary function of a biological control quarantine facility is to provide a secure area where the identity of all incoming biological control candidates can be confirmed and undesirable organisms, especially hyperparasitoids, parasitoids of predators, and extraneous host or host plant material, can be eliminated. In fact the quarantine laboratory often represents the last chance to study and evaluate potential biological control agents in the sequence of collection, importation and liberation.

The number of quarantine facilities in the United States, which are certified to handle incoming shipments of beneficial organisms, has increased from four to 26 over the past 40 years. In addition to 24 listed by Coulson & Hagen (1985), new quarantine facilities have been constructed at Montana State University, Bozeman for phytophagous insects and the University of California, Riverside for nematodes. New or expanded quarantine facilities have been constructed in a number of other countries (e.g., Australia, Great Britain, Mexico, Germany and Thailand).

The steady increase in quarantine need and capacity is due on part to an increased interest in biological and non-polluting methods of pest control, and the desire to expand on the many successes already achieved through the importation of exotic natural enemies. Also, there is an increase in new pests that are transported throughout the world and which are amenable to biological as well as the stricter prerelease information requirements on behavior and safety of biological control candidates. A lengthy study on candidates often ties up quarantine areas thereby increasing the need for greater quarantine capacity to avoid limiting the amount of materials that can be handled. For example, in the United States to prove the environmental safety of plant-feeding arthropods for the biological control of weeds can include studies with as many as 10-20 North American native plant species related to the target weed. When such studies are not permitted or feasible in the country of origin of the biological control phytophage, these tests must be conducted in a domestic quarantine facility. Similarly, testing parasitoids against indigenous insect species which have been declared legally threatened or endangered and which may be present in areas near or contiguous to insect pest infested agricultural crops that are targeted for parasitoid release, may not only require more quarantine space but also delay or prevent the colonization of newly imported organisms. The longer the imported organisms remain in quarantine before these tests can be conducted, the greater the risk that subtle genetic changes occur, altering the potential fitness of the organism.

Increasing concern over the quality f the environment is also causing a proliferation of regulations governing the importation and liberation of beneficial organisms. Explorer collectors, quarantine officers and project scientists must spend increasing time to study and comply with domestic and foreign regulations that cover importation, exportation and liberation of biological control agents. Air travel has reduced the amount of time required to move biological control agents from one continent to another, but the proliferation of international airports has spawned a logistical confusion of unpredictable package routing, delayed agricultural and customs inspection and unscheduled reloading and shipment to the final destination. Frequently material arrives dead or in a weakened state and on occasion may never arrive.

The safety record for international transport of beneficial organisms has been very good. Worldwide there have been remarkably few escapes when considering the hundreds of species and millions of specimens which have been processed. This safety record is a result of the surprisingly uniform set of international protocols and procedures that are shared by quarantine personnel and regulatory officials in each country. For an overview of the history and continuing role of quarantine within the context of classical biological control see Coulson & Soper (1989).

There are several statutory and technological elements of which the explorer, collector and shipper should be aware and which shape the operation of the quarantine laboratory, beginning with the collection, selection and packaging of exotic biological control candidates in their native habitat or country of origin until their release from quarantine or termination of the study. These include national and state regulations (including required permits) as they pertain to the certification of quarantine facilities and the importation, handling and release of natural enemies. Also included are quarantine laboratory design and equipment, personnel and operating procedures (Fisher 1964, Creager 1987).

Establishing Quarantine Facilities

A quarantine basically provides a tight security room for opening and examining incoming shipments of beneficial organisms prior to release to other laboratories for further study or to cooperators for field liberation. United States Department of Agriculture certified quarantine facilities may range from a one- or two-room unit in an existing building to multi-room complexes designed to meed specific quarantine needs, such as screening. A primary quarantine facility is one certified by the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture (APHIS) to receive direct shipments from foreign sources which may contain live pest host material as well as the candidate natural enemies. Secondary quarantine facilities may handle only those biological control shipments previously processed through a primary quarantine laboratory or which are free of live, exotic pest species, but which may contain hyperparasitoids of entomopathogens still to be screened out prior to liberation.

Location and Utilities.--Primary quarantine laboratories are preferably located near a major port of entry, such as an international airport. This proximity becomes increasingly important in proportion to the number of shipments received throughout the year. The quarantine facility should be physically located where water, electricity, natural gas or propane, road access, etc. are available. A standby electrical generator powered by natural gas or propane is considered essential for supplying power to selected circuits during power outages. Less obvious concerns are freedom from windborne pollutants such as industrial smoke, dust and pesticide drift. A telephone for communicating with collectors worldwide and between quarantine personnel and federal or state regulatory personnel is essential. Ready access to a telex or FAX transmitting unit is highly desirable.

Structural Design.--Details of the quarantine building itself are dictated largely by local construction codes. Key features of all quarantine laboratories are the sealed nature of the rooms or buildings, a vestibule system for entry and exit with positive closure doors, and a network of filters through which air enters and leaves the facility. Leppla & Ashley (1978) show diagrams of floor plants of five biological control quarantine facilities in the United States.

In order to reduce heat and cooling costs, the walls and ceilings should be well insulated. To minimize transfer of heat in or out of the building, as well as to deter window breakage, double-glazed or thermopane windows are advised. The outer panes should be of tempered and/or wire-reinforced glass. If vandalism is considered a problem, the quarantine facility should be encircled with a sturdy fence at least two meters in height. Added precautions include alarms that signal unlawful entry and fire.

In the United States, the USDA APHIS Biological Assessment Support Staff (BASS) approves the design of new and or modifications of established quarantines. Final certification includes an onsite verification by an APHIS official to confirm compliance with structural and operational criteria. Additional information on quarantine structural criteria may be obtained from the USDA, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Hyattsville, MD. 20782.

The structural criteria vary according to the kinds of beneficial organisms to be handled and the risks posed to the environment:

Arthropods: The handling of beneficial parasitoids, predators and phytophagous arthropods requires rooms with temperature, relative humidity, light and air exchange control systems to meet the environmental needs of the different species. When such requirements cover a relatively narrow range of environmental parameters, the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, air delivery systems can be relatively simple. On the other hand, if several species of beneficial arthropods having widely divergent environmental requirements must be handled simultaneously, each room will require special controls to provide the variety of rearing conditions. The diversity of conditions can be greatly increased by the use of individual temperature and environmental chambers. However, such units should be viewed as temporary at best because of their limited size and the restricted numbers of organisms which can be produced in them. Quarantines for handling phytophagous arthropods need one or more glasshouse containment areas directly accessible from the quarantine laboratory.

Pathogens of Pest Arthropods: Information on pathogen quarantine construction and operation may be obtained from the Biological Assessment and Taxonomic Support Group, Plant Pest Quarantine, APHIS, USDA, Federal Center Bldg., Room 625, 6505 Belcrest Rd., Hyattsville, MD 20782, Tel. (301) 436-5215.

Pathogens of Weeds: Melching et al (1983) discuss criteria for handling plant pathogens. The buildings at the USDA/ARS Plant Disease Research Laboratory, Frederick, MD are sealed and air conditioned via a tandem set of filters designed to remove particles larger than 0.5 lm. Exhaust air is also passed through a third, deep-bed filter before discharge to the outside. Each filter is capable of removing airborne bacteria or fungal spores. The air pressure within the unit is negative to the outside atmosphere, so in the event of any leakage, the air would flow inward. Waste water is sterilized before discharge from the area. Workers must shower before leaving the laboratory, leaving their laboratory garments inside the quarantine. To minimize cross contamination between study areas, the laboratory and greenhouse are divided into a series of cubicles of varying size. Some of the work in progress at this facility is described by Bruckart & Dowler (1986). Another description of a facility designed to contain weed plant pathogens is given by Watson & Sackston (1985). A much simplified pathology quarantine, which incorporates all the essential features of the above units, is that described by Inman (1970), who converted a room in an older building into a functioning quarantine.

Nematodes: Certain species of nematodes attack a narrow range of introduced weeds. Others are narrowly host specific, or pathogenic, on pest arthropods. Since beneficial as well as phytophagous pest species of nematodes are closely tied to the soil environment, the safe handling of imported species requires a quarantine facility capable of handling and sterilizing plants and soil. In the unique Isolation and Nematode Quarantine Facility recently constructed at the University of California, Riverside, soil containment is the primary concern. Security measures include restricted entry, use of disposable shoe covers, arthropod control and stringent disposal methods.

The primary quarantine facilities certified for handling exotic beneficial organisms in the United States as reported by Coulson & Hagen (1985) are as shown in Table 1.


Table 1. Primary quarantine facilities for handling exotic beneficial organisms

                in the United States (Coulson & Hagen 1985).


U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Res. Service


Location (State, City)                           Organisms Handled1

CA, Albany                                           Phyto.

CT, Ansonia                                         Entom., Entpath., Antag.

DE, Newark                                          Entom., Phyto., Poll., Vect., Compet., Entpath. (Ertle & Day 1978)

MD, Frederick                                      Phyto., Planpath. (Melching et al. 1983)

MS, Stoneville                                      Entom., Phyto. (Bailey & Kreasky 1978, Jones et al. 1985)

MT, Bozeman                                       Phyto.

NY, Ithaca                                            Entom.

TX, Temple                                           Phyto. (Boldt 1982)

TX, College Station                              Compet.

UT, Logan                                            Poll.


State (University and Dept. Agric.) Research Facilities


CA, Albany, Univ. Calif. (Berkeley)      Entom., Compet., Entpath. (Etzel 1978)

CA, Davis, Univ. Calif. (Davis)             Entom.

CA, Riverside, Univ. Calif. (Riverside) Entom., Phyto., Compet., Entpath. (Fisher 1978)

FL, Gainesville, Univ. Florida               Planpath.

FL, Dept. Agric.                                    Entom., Phyto. (Denmark 1978)

GU, Mangilao, Univ. Guam                  Entom., Phyto.

HI, Oahu, HI Dept. Agric.                    Entom., Phyto.

HI, Hilo, Volcanoes Natl. Park             Phyto.

MT, Bozeman, Montana State Univ.     Entom., Phyto.

NC, Raleigh, NC Dept. Agric                Entom.

OH, Columbus, Ohio State Univ.         Entpath.

TX, College Station, Texas A&M Univ. Entom.

VA, Blacksburg, Polytech. Inst.            Entom., Phyto.


1/ Antag. = pathogens antagonistic to plant pathogens; Compet. = competitors, parasitoids &predators of synanthropicflies; Entom. = entomophagous arthropods; Entpath. = entomopathogens; Nema. = nematodes; Phyto. = phytophagous arthropods; Planpath. = plant pathogens; Poll. = pollinators; Vect. = vectors of man and animals.

Equipment and Amenities.--The kinds of these items needed in quarantine will vary depending on the class of organism and the studies to be made. Most are standard items in entomological laboratories and include various dissecting tools, holding cages, micro habitat monitoring equipment and illuminators. An olfactometer and video recording equipment for studying the behavioral biologies and host relationships of organisms are also useful. Three main categories of equipment are (1) hardware (cages, microscopes, temperature cabinets), (2) reference items (literature files, identified voucher specimens, records, and (3) cleaning and disposal equipment.

A quarantine laboratory to process incoming shipments solely for identification requires only a handling cage, a microscope, identified reference specimens and other identification aids, and containers for reshipment. When maintaining entomophagous or phytophagous arthropods throughout their life cycles, hosts and host plants in various stages of development, several sizes of cages and special lighting, temperature and humidity controls are necessary.

There is a need to avoid overstocking with equipment as quarantine space is often limited. Ample enclosed storage within the facility should be provided to keep work surfaces clean and free of clutter. Normally, equipment used in quarantine should remain inside the facility.

Handling Cages: A cage design that has proven highly satisfactory in handling arthropods for over 40 years measures ca. 55 cm high, 44 cm deep and 46-60 cm wide, and is constructed of wood with a glass top and fine meshed cloth or screen on the backside. It has a door in front equipped with paired, cloth sleeves which allow easy, yet effective escape proof access to the cage's contents. One variation of this cage is of lucite plastic, the architecture speeds the handling and recollection of large numbers of organisms by making them more accessible to the paved openings at the front. The lucite cage's limited ventilation may allow moisture to condense on interior surfaces if large volumes of fresh plant material are held, but presents no problem when samples are processed quickly.

When processing an incoming shipment, the handling cage should be equipped inside with a knife or scissors to open packages, tweezers, an aspirator and camel's hair brush to use in the transfer or capture of the organisms, vials and cartons to hold the organisms, and paper and pencil for recording the number of organisms and other observations. A CO2 unit for anesthetizing organisms while in the handling cage or even refrigeration of the package prior to placement in the cage will reduce their activity and facilitate identification, sorting and processing.

Microscope: A binocular dissecting microscope (10-60X) and high quality illuminator (fiber optic) is usually adequate for assessing the general conditions of quarantined arthropod material, including identification and the sexing of specimens. A microscope mounted on a pedestal with an adjustable arm is versatile and can also be used to view organisms on plants and in cages. In addition a second microscope, such as one with phase contrast adaptation capable of detecting entomopathogens may be needed to maintain healthy cultures (Poinar & Thomas 1978).

Identified Voucher Specimens: The availability of identified reference specimens to compare with incoming material can greatly increase the speed and accuracy of workers as they select specimens for release or further study. Often a single box or, at most, a small cabinet with several trays of specimens, plus a file containing taxonomic keys and other aids will suffice.

Reference Files: The following references and information have proved useful in the operation of the quarantine facility: Borer & Delong (1970), DeBach (1964), Clausen (1940), Clausen (1978), King & Leppla (1984), Peterson (1959, 1960), Poinar (1977), Poinar & Thomas (1978), Waage & Greathead (1987).

Lights: Daylight-fluorescent and the halide type plant growth lamps have proven satisfactory for indoor plant culture and greenhouse containment areas that require supplemental light. Heat from halide lamps may be of value in speeding plant growth, but harmful if excessive heat buildup is undesirable. These lamps also require special wiring and circuitry. Time switches are needed to simulate day length. The entry vestibules of the quarantine laboratory should be equipped with blacklight traps to attract insects which may have inadvertently gained entry to the vestibule either from the outside or from within the quarantine handling area.

Temperature Cabinets: These are essential for experiments requiring closely regulated temperature cycles. Units with good records of reliability are preferred to minimize repairs. Temperature and humidity recording devices also will be needed.

Refrigerator: Cooling incoming shipments of arthropods to ca. 5°C not only extends the longevity of the organisms but facilitates handling during transfer and identification. Refrigerators may range from small, under-the-counter units, to the large double door, restaurant models when space permits. The latter can accommodate large packages, and are especially useful when large amounts of material is being handled. Household refrigerators with thermostatic controls adapted to operate at predetermined minimum temperatures also may be used. Care should be taken when selecting a temperature for long term holding periods to avoid excessive mortality.

Refrigerated Room: A built-in cold room is considered desirable if large amounts of plant material or hibernating immature arthropods are to be held under simulated winter conditions. For temporary storage of packaged dormant material, portable refrigerated walk-in units can be rented.

Carbon Dioxide: Judiciously used, CO2 anesthetization (one minute maximum) can facilitate the handling of both entomophagous and phytophagous arthropods. However, Nicolas & Sillens (1989) pointed out that CO2 narcosis may have adverse short- and long-term effects. Passing the gas over ether can extend anesthetization time. Because CO-2 is heavier than air, caution must be used to avoid build-up in the bottoms of open containers. Carbon dioxide is best supplied with portable cylinders provided with pressure regulators that are under the direct control of the personnel using them. Central CO2 installations which serve several stations on the other hand often develop leaks, or gas is wasted by forgotten taps.

Tools: A selection of hand tools such as hammers, screwdrivers, pliers and small ladders are all useful for cage and equipment maintenance. Flashlights and fire extinguishers are essential for emergency purposes.

Vacuum and Pressure Pumps: Such devices are useful when collecting large numbers of living specimens and with olfactometer experiments. Air pressure is handy for cleaning cages, aerating hydroponic tanks of aquatic plants, etc. Positive and negative air supplies can be from a central source in the building, or provided by portable units.

Pest Control: Ants, whiteflies, aphids, spider mites, etc. frequently pose problems to plant and insect cultures in quarantine. Control by nonpesticide methods is preferred (e.g., light traps, sticky boards, soaps, biological control agents, handpicking of infested leaves). Commercial insectaries and some farm and garden supply stores are sources of biological control agents (Anon. 1989, Bezark 1989). If chemical sprays are to be used, a unit for confining the treatments to the plants and to exhaust odors and drift outside the quarantine will be needed. Insecticidal dusts should not be used. Boric acid powder can be used for cockroach control (Ebeling 1978). [See section on contaminants: ENT229.17].

Cleaning and Disposal Equipment: Vacuum cleaners, brooms, sponges, mops and other janitorial equipment are necessary. Most containment facilities are equipped with pass through steam autoclaves which allow direct removal of treated materials from quarantine without the possibility of recontamination. For treatment of small amounts of material, regular household ovens or specially constructed electrically heated chests may supplement the autoclave in purely arthropod handling facilities. The steam autoclave is preferred if soil and other compacted materials are used in containment. Pathogen infected waste material should be sterilized at 100°C for sufficient time to permit adequate penetration of heat.

The usefulness of microwave ovens is questionable. Hertelandy & Pinter (1986a,b) discussed the use of microwaves to control stored product pests, but the effectiveness in killing spores of certain pathogens is doubtful.

Under no circumstances ought carpets be used to floor a quarantine laboratory, as the fibers retain material that can infest cultures, and sterilization is practically impossible.

Records: A file cabinet is useful for keeping equipment operating instructions, quarantine handling records, taxonomic keys, pertinent literature, correspondence and appropriate phone numbers. The cabinet may be kept in a quarantine anteroom, but should be readily accessible to workers. Computer equipment greatly facilitates record management and the exchange of information among laboratories and regulatory agencies.

Communication Units: A telephone communication capability between personnel working in quarantine and elsewhere is essential. An intercom system permitting nonmanual operated response should minimize worker interruption.

Protocol in Quarantine Operations

The intent and design of a quarantine facility are to speed the safe importation and release of candidate biological control agents, beginning with the federal and state permitting process through the actual shipping, receipt, processing, release and finally documentation f the work. To assure the rigorous standards for handling imported materials, there has been a concurrent tightening of domestic and foreign regulations governing the collection and shipment process.

U. S. Department of Agriculture Regulations. No single Federal statute specifically addresses regulation of the importation, movement and release of biological control agents per se (Coulson & Soper 1989). There are at least six Federal regulations that impact on biological control activities: (1) the Plant Quarantine Act, 1912 (initial legislation to restrict movement of potential pests into the United States); (2) the Federal Plant Pest Act of 1957 (regulates the importation and movement of plant pests and plant parts that may harbor pests); (3) the Public Health Services Act (regulates movement of insects and vectors of human disease agents); (4) the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) (authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate pesticides) which by broad definition includes biological control organisms; (5) the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (requires an assessment of actions that may affect the quality of the environment); and (6) the Endangered Species Act (attempts to avoid impact on indigenous rare and endangered species).  New restrictions are expected following the 11 September 2001 assault in New York City.

In the United States, the regulation of biological control agent movement, package inspection at ports of entry and quarantine certification inspection, has rested with the Biological Assessment Support Staff (BASS) since 1983. This is part of the Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) section, of the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS), USDA, Hyattsville, MD 10782 (Lima 1983).

APHIS PPQ regulatory actions set the standards and guidelines for all federal and state biological control quarantine activities. However, individual states may attach additional regulations regarding treatment accorded to specific pests within their geographic jurisdictions. Obviously created to handle the diverse importation of harmful substances into the United States, it is incredulous that the U. S. Government could not have short circuited this bureaucracy for the altruistic endeavors of a biological control worker!

Therefore to separate importations into different categories, PPQ has placed the organisms that must be quarantined into three categories:

Category A: Foreign plant pests not present or of limited distribution in the United States; domestic plant pests of limited distribution in that country, including program pests; state regulated pests and exotic strains of domestic pests.

Category B: Biological control agents and pollinators.

Category B1: high risk: weed antagonists; shipments accompanied by prohibited plant material or Category A pests.

Category B2: low risk: pure cultures of known beneficial organisms.

Category C: Domestic pests that have attained their ecological ranges, non-pest organisms and other organisms for which courtesy permits may be issued.

Specifically, all exotic biological control organisms (Cat. B) enter the United States accompanied by Category A pests (i.e., hosts of the biological control agents) or weed antagonists must be received in a primary PPQ certified quarantine facility (Lima 1983).

Permits: Federal and state permits are require for almost all movement of beneficial organisms into and throughout the United States. This is not the sticker that accompanies the package, but rather the authorization to do the importation.

Importation to the United States.--Permits are required for all importations of living beneficial arthropods and microorganisms into the United States. Application for these permits is made on PPQ Form 526 (Application and Permit to Move Live Plant Pests), which can be obtained from APHIS/PPQ, Hyattsville, MD, or from state agricultural departments.  The completed forms should be routed to those state agricultural officials in whose jurisdiction the receiving quarantine facility is located. The state-approved forms are then forwarded to APHIS/PPQ for concurrence and/or instruction of further conditions required in handling the material. At this point PPQ Form 526 becomes the permit and the duly signed form and PPQ-48 shipping labels are forwarded to the applicant. These labels are then affixed to the outside of the packages by the explorer or foreign shipper. Packages, which are hand carried into the United States, should also bear the proper shipping labels and also be accompanied by a copy of the approved PPQ Form 526 to avoid delays at the Port of Entry. At least six months should be allowed to process the 526 application through USDA (APHIS) and state departments of agriculture although the time required varies considerably.

In the biological control of weeds it is often necessary to import exotic plants for host range studies. Applications can be obtained from the Permit Unit, Plant Protection and Quarantine Program, APHIS, USDA, Federal Building, Hyattsville, MD 20782. Plants to be imported under the quarantine permit may also be subject to the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Information on plants which come under these provisions, how to obtain permits for their importation, and which foreign agencies should be contacted to obtain the proper export permits, may be obtained from the Wildlife Permit Office, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U. S. Department of Interior, Washington, D.C. 20240. In addition, permits to move restricted plants from a foreign source or from one state to another should be obtained from quarantine officials in the receiving state.

Some countries (e.g., Australia, Mexico) require permits not only for collection but also to export living or dead specimens (museum material) of indigenous species. As biological control explorers sometimes work with relatively obscure elements of a country's flora and fauna, it is not uncommon for them to discover new species and compile new biological information. By requiring export permits, officials of foreign governments are better able to monitor the biota of their countries and to assure that type specimens of newly described species remain in their national repositories. Arrangements for necessary travel, collection and export permits needed by the explorer can usually be handled through the Ministry of Agriculture, Plant Quarantine or Plant Protection Service officials of the host country. Such arrangements must be initiated at least 12 months in advance of travel.

Interstate.--Some states have regulations covering the importation, movement and release of arthropods within their boundaries (e.g., California, Florida, Oregon, Texas). In these instances, APHIS-PPQ issues PPQ-49 permit labels at a state's request. This label covers the transport of biological control organisms only and does not include living host material. Packages of biological control agents to be shipped or mailed among states should bear this label. State regulatory officials should be routinely informed of releases within their areas, whether permits are required or not. Technically, shipments containing only living beneficial species do not require a permit, but their movement should be made a matter of record at the Biological Control Documentation Center, Beltsville, MD.

With weed feeding arthropods and pathogens of weeds, the import application and labelling process has two added steps to that described above (Klingman & Coulson 1982). Prior to completing and filing PPQ Form 526, the applicant must prepare a proposal justifying the planned importation of weed arthropods whether for study or release. The proposal should address: (1) the importance of the weed problem and whether the target plant has any redeeming features that may lead to objections against its control, (2) the organism to be introduced for study and/or release, and (3) a summary of the information known about the host range and biology of the organism, noting if studies are still needed and how it is to be handled in quarantine. The proposal is forwarded to the APHIS Technical Advisory Group (APHIS-TAG) which considers the potential hazards and benefits of the proposed importation.         

Packaging For Shipment.--The least active stages of an organism (e.g., egg, pupa, diapausing larva & adult) often survive the rigors of packaging and travel better than active stages. All packing materials should be cooled before shipping, and the shipments should be directed by the swiftest and most secure routing, usually air freight.

The amount of fresh plant material included in the shipment should be minimized. Fresh foliage deteriorates rapidly when packages are placed in a warm location. Also there should be a minimum of free moisture in packages, especially if fresh plant material is included.

Organisms to be shipped should be taken from expanding, healthy populations to minimize the inclusion of diseased or genetically impoverished material (Myers & Sabath 1981). Early season generations of multivoltine species generally contain fewer parasitoids, including hyperparasitoids. Outgoing packages should remain open as long as possible. Packages that are received should be cooled to ca. 5°C before contents are examined. Also, packages should not be overloaded.

Each life stage may require particular attention . A double or triple wrapped package will safeguard against organism escapes, and in any case are required by law for a variety of organisms.

Circumstances may require shipping under less than optimum conditions, which although perhaps encumbering the delivery of organisms in top condition, is probably better than not taking a chance on getting beneficial material through. In such cases it is best to make several shipments by whatever means is available. Even simple lettersize envelopes have served to adequately transport living beneficials, especially if styrofoam protection is included that will reduce pressure from automatic stamp canceling machinery.

Identification.--Authoritative identification is an important step to unlocking information on host range, ecological relationships, biology (life history) and even previous uses as a biological control agent. It is essential to a rapid release from quarantine. Quarantine workers should be aware of how to prepare specimens for identification and forwarding to appropriate specialists (Edwards et al. 1985, Steyskal et al. 1986).

The majority of biological agents handled in quarantine are from little studied ecosystems in foreign areas, and often prove difficult to identify. Knutson (1981) pointed out that out of the 318 species of parasitoids and predators released through the USDA/ARS, Newark, Delaware, Biological Control Quarantine from 1965-1979, 16% could be identified only to the generic level and 2% only to the family or higher level. Of the 42 species of arthropods released to control weeds in the United States at that time, all were identified to species, but seven of them were new to science during the period when they first came under consideration as biological control agents.

Voucher Specimens.--Voucher specimens of entomophagous and phytophagous natural enemies and hosts should be preserved. Voucher specimens aid workers in tracking the spread and success of new biological control agents. Knutson (1984) summed up the importance of retaining voucher materials noting that they serve to (1) document the identity of organisms released thus permitting a retrogressive tracking of changes in their names if later needed, and (2) provide specimens and information for future studies that may not have been envisioned at the time of release. For example, voucher specimens helped unravel a 20-year old taxonomy problem with two trypetid seed head flies known to attack the weed Centaurea solstitalis L. in areas of the Mediterranean. An early importation of the fly, then identified as Urophora sirunaseva (Hering) (Zwölfer 1969), failed to establish on this weed in California, apparently due to an antibiosis reaction on the part of the California plant (Fisher & Andres 1999). Fifteen years later a similar fly was observed attacking C. solstitalis plants of California origin in an experimental garden in Greece (Sobhian & Zwölfer 1985). This latter fly was identified as the true U. sirunaseva (White & Clement 1987), while the earlier introduced Italian fly was confirmed to be U. jacaluta Rondani, as had been speculated by Steyskal (1979).

Voucher material should be prepared in the manner suggested by Steyskal et al. (1986). In the case of weed feeding arthropods, samples of the plants used for host specificity tests should also be preserved (Klingman & Coulson 1982). Similarly, host materials for entomophagous arthropods should be vouchered.

Records and Reports.--Each candidate biological control agent is tracked from the time of receipt until its final clearance and release into the environment. These records are of interest to APHIS-PPQ, which must monitor the importation and final disposition of biotic agents and associated plant pests. Special standardized report forms are available from the Biological Control Documentation Center, Beneficial Insects Laboratory, USDA/ARS, Beltsville, MD 20705.


Exercise 27.1: Discuss the history of Federal Quarantine in the United States.

Exercise 27.2: Detail quarantine procedures in the State of California.


REFERENCES:        [Additional references may be found at  MELVYL Library ]

Anonymous. 1985. Recommended measures for regulating the importation and movement of plants. Information Letter, FAO, Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission (1985) No. 132. 20 p.

Anonymous. 1989. Directory of producers of natural enemies of common pests. IPM Practitioner, 11(4): 15-18. BIRC, P.O. Box 7414, Berkeley, CA 94707.

Bailey, J. C. & J. B. Kreasky. 1978. Quarantine laboratory for plant-feeding insects, pp. 53-56. In: N. C. Leppla & T. R. Ashley (eds.), Facilities For Insect Research and Production. USDA, SEA, Tech. Bull. 1576. 86 p.

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