Rob

Dr. Rob Venette

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Lab photo, 2011 (l to r): Rob Venette, Lindsey Christianson, Amy Morey, Anthony Hanson

How long have you been studying/working on insect cold hardiness?

I have been studying insect cold tolerance since 2003.  I credit Mario Carrillo and Robert Koch for getting me interested in the subject.

What insect(s) do you study?

  • Agrilus planipennis, emerald ash borer, a jewel beetle/flatheaded borer that is native to northeastern Asia, now in eastern North America and spreading;  affects ash species.
  • Agrilus auroguttatus, goldspotted oak borer, a jewel beetle/flatheaded borer that is native to Arizona, New Mexico, and portions of northern Mexico, now invading California (San Diego & Riverside counties);  affects some oak species.
  • Spathius agrili, no common name, a wasp native to Asia that parasitizes larvae of emerald ash borer;  a potential benefit to ash trees.
  • Tetrastichus planipennis, no common name, a wasp native to Asia that parasitizes larvae of emerald ash borer;  a potential benefit to ash trees.
  • Oobius agrili, no common name, a wasp native to Asia that parasitizes eggs of emerald ash borer;  a potential benefit to ash trees.
  • Epiphyas postvittana, light brown apple moth, a leaf roller that is native to Australia, now in California and Oregon and spreading; affects numerous plants, including apples, citrus, oaks, and pines.
  • Pityophthorus juglandis, walnut twig beetle, a twig beetle that carries the fungus Geosmithia morbida, which together cause Thousand cankers disease. Beetle is native to the southwestern US and has spread to many western US states and isolated areas in the eastern US; affects walnuts.
  • Dendroctonus ponderosae, mountain pine beetle, a bark beetle that is native to western North America, may be spreading east; affects a number of pine species.
  • Drosophila suzukii, spotted wing Drosophila, a vinegar fly that is native to eastern Asia, spreading rapidly throughout North America; affects plants with fleshy fruits, including many understory forbs.

What is your main research?

My main research interest is in forecasting the distribution of invasive alien species before they become widespread.  This information is useful for decision-makers to decide on the need for quarantines and where to conduct surveys.  Cold temperatures can prevent the incursion of many invasive species, so understanding how insects respond to cold allows us to better forecast where those insects might become established and problematic.

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