Wayne A. Gardner
Professor of Entomology
Address: Department of Entomology
Phone: (770) 228-7288
My current research program includes imported fire ant management and applied insect pathology. All aspects of this research are mission-oriented with ultimate objectives of developing and implementing biologically-based pest management systems.
Imported Fire Ants
The red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta (Buren), was accidentally introduced into the United States in the mid-1930s. It now infests more than 130 million hectares in this country, including all 179 counties in Georgia. Eradication programs in the 1960s and 1970s were unsuccessful and subsequently abandoned. The goal is now a systems-approach to managing the insect in areas where it is deemed a pest. Although the imported fire ant is a voracious predator, it also causes serious medical problems, interferes with outdoor activities, harms livestock and wildlife, damages electrical equipment, and reduces land values, as well as impacting ecological balance within infested habitats. Our approach in preventing or eliminating problems caused by unacceptably high numbers of fire ants in affected areas includes assessment and introduction of natural enemies of the fire ant, evaluation of chemically-based management options, and defining biological parameters regulating the spread and success of the imported fire ant.
Microbial Control of the Pecan Weevil
We are currently developing two entomogenous fungi – Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae – and selected entomophagous nematodes for the microbial control of the pecan weevil, Curculio caryae Horn. The pecan weevil is one of the key pests of pecan production. Adults feeding and mating in tree canopies are easily controlled with foliar sprays of chemical insecticides, but this management approach presents numerous environmental and regulatory concerns including secondary pest outbreaks, destruction of natural enemies, accelerated development of insecticide resistance, and hazards for humans and the environment. Our laboratory and field projects are directed to strain selection, improved formulations, economically-compatible application methods, and other means of enhancing the persistence and efficacy of these microbial agents. We are targeting adult weevils as they emerge from pupation sites in orchard soils. Successful development and utilization of alternatives to conventional control methods promises to provide economic, social and ecological benefits through reduced reliance on chemical inputs.
I serve as Faculty Coordinator of the UGA Research and Education Garden located on the Griffin Campus (www.ugagarden.com). The Garden is committed to developing, evaluating and delivering fact-based management practices for southern landscapes. Educational and outreach resources and programs are directed to homeowners, professionals, policymakers and educators. Outreach programming includes plant selection, horticultural practices, pest management, water quality and conservation, and related topics.
I am budgeted 0.10 EFT to administration serving as the Coordinator of the Griffin Campus unit for the Department.
Gardner, W.A., M.N.G. Pessoa, and E.A. Scocco. 2007. The potential of genetically enhancing the microbial control of insect and plant disease pests. In: Saxena, G. and K.G. Mukerji (eds.), Disease management of fruits and vegetables, Vol VII: Management of nematodes and insect-borne diseases. Kluwer Academic Publ.
Drees, B.M., W.A. Gardner, et al. 2006. Managing imported fire ants in urban areas. Texas Cooperative Extension Service Publ. B-6043, 21 p.
Ipser, R.M. and W.A. Gardner. 2004. A review of the scientific literature on the biology, ecology, and foraging strategies of two invasive ant species in North America. Sociobiol. 44: 485-503.
Ipser, R.M., M.A. Brinkman, and W.A. Gardner. 2004. A survey of ground-dwelling ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Georgia. Florida Entomol. 87: 253-260.
Shapiro-Ilan, D.I., T.E. Cottrell, and W.A. Gardner. 2004. Trunk perimeter applications of Beauveria bassiana to suppress adult Curculio caryae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). J. Entomol. Sci. 39: 337-349.
Shapiro-Ilan, D.I., W.A. Gardner, J.R. Fuxa, B.W. Wood, K.B. Nguyen, B.J. Adams, R.A. Humber, and M.J. Hall. 2003. Survey of entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi endemic to pecan orchards of the southeastern United States and their virulence to the pecan weevil (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Environ. Entomol. 32: 187-195.