All aspects of my research program are mission-oriented with objectives of developing and implementing biologically-based pest management systems against selected insect pests. An emphasis has been on applied insect pathology and biocontrol of invasive pest species including the imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, and the kudzu bug, Megacopta cribraria. We also have ongoing research in developing microbial agents for the management of the pecan weevil, Curculio caryae, in southern pecan orchards.
Invasive Kudzu Bug, Megacopta cribraria
Since the initial discovery of Megacopta cribraria in 9 northeastern Georgia counties in 2009, we have been heavily involved in documenting the spread of the invasive insect in its expanded North American range, evaluating the potential of entomogenous fungi as biological control agents of overwintering adults, defining the minimal critical temperature limits of the insect, providing content and support for the website www.kudzubug.org managed by the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, and addressing concerns of U.S. international trade partners concerned with the potential introduction of the pest from infested areas of the U.S.
Imported Fire Ants and Other Pest Ant Species
Our research with imported fire ants and the Argentine ant, Limepithema humile, has included assessment of various classes of active ingredients in bait formulations and the potential of various chemistries in repelling foraging workers. We also have been involved in cooperative efforts to release and establish several species of phorid flies, Pseudacteon spp., against red and hybrid imported fire ants in Georgia. We continue to monitor the spread of these established species across the state.
Microbial Control of the Pecan Weevil
Our efforts have focused primarily on the development of entomogenous fungi and nematodes as control agents for adult pecan weevil, Curculio caryae, that are emerging from the soils of pecan orchards in August through October each year. Our laboratory and field projects are directed to strain selection, improved formulations and delivery tactics, and other means of augmenting the natural control of the weevil by endemic populations of entomogenous pathogens in orchard soils.
- Serve as Faculty Coordinator of the UGA Research and Education Garden located on the Griffin Campus. The Garden is committed to developing, evaluating, and delivering fact-based management practices for southern landscapes. Educational and outreach programming is directed to homeowners, professional landscapers and retailers, policymakers, and educators. The programming includes plant selection, horticultural practices, pest management, water quality and conservation, and related topics.
- Member, Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.
- Administrative Coordinator of the Entomology Unit, Griffin Campus.
- Teach AESC 4190 (Agricultural Ethics) as a seminar/topic-based course that explores ethical issues in food security, agricultural technology, animal rights and welfare, agribusiness, and related topics.
Gardner, W.A., J.L. Bount, J.R. Golec, W.A. Jones, X.P. Hu, E.J. Talamas, R.M. Evans, X. Dong, C.H. Ray, Jr., G.D. Buntin, N.M Gerardo, and J. Couret. 2013. Discovery of Paratelenomus saccharalis (Dodd) (Hymenoptera: Platygastridae), an egg parasitoid of Megacopta cribraria F. (Hemiptera: Plataspidae) in its expanded North American range. J. Entomol. Sci. 48(4): 355-359.
Gardner, W.A., H.B. Peeler, and S.K. Diffie. 2013. Occurrence of phorid fly (Diptera: Phoridae) parasitoids of imported fire ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Georgia. J. Entomol. Sci. 48(3): 243-250.
Gardner, W.A., H.B. Peeler, J. LaForest, P.M. Roberts, A.N. Sparks, J.K. Greene, D. Reesig, D.R. Suiter, J.E. Eger, J.E. Ruberson, E.J. Sikora, D.A. Herbert, C. Campana, S. Halbert, S.D. Stewart, G.D. Buntin, M.D. Toews, and C.T. Bargeron. 2013. Confirmed distribution and occurrence of Megacopta cribraria (F.) (Hemiptera: Plataspidae) in the southeastern United States. J. Entomol. Sci. 48(2): 118-127.
Ruberson, J.R., K. Takasu, G.D. Buntin, J.E. Eger, Jr., W.A. Gardner, J.K. Greene, T.M. Jenkins, W.A. Jones, D.M. Olson, P.M. Roberts, D.R. Suiter and M.D. Toews. 2013. Form Asian curiosity to eruptive American pest: Megacopta cribraria (Hemiptera: Plataspidae) and prospects for biological control. Appl. Entomol. Zool. 48(1): 3-13.
Shapiro-Ilan, D., W.A. Gardner, M.L. Wells, T. Cottrell, R.W. Behle and B. Wood. 2013. Effects of entomopathogenic fungus species and impact of fertilizers on biological control of pecan weevil. Environ. Entomol. 42(2): 253-261.
Shapiro-Ilan, D.I., W.A. Gardner, L. Wells and B.W. Wood. 2012. Cumulative impact of clover cover crop on the persistence and efficacy of Beauveria bassiana in suppressing the pecan weevil (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Environ. Entomol. 41(2): 298-307.