Kelly A. Estes serves as state survey coordinator of the Illinois Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey (CAPS) with the Illinois Natural History Survey. Kelly recently answered a few questions regarding her work on agricultural pests.
How does your work at CAPS impact Illinois?
Illinois’ central geographic location and our superior transportation systems give us significant advantages in trade, commerce and tourism, but these also create high-risk pathways for the introduction of invasive pests. The CAPS program focuses on the early detection of these pests through surveys of not only the pathways of potential introduction but also the commodities they can impact.
What are some invasive/pest species that CAPS is watching out for during the 2021 field season?
We have several surveys we will be conducting this summer -
Asian Defoliator Survey:
The Asian defoliator survey allows for the survey and potential detection of exotic pests that may become established in conifer and hardwood stands – in natural areas as well as residential neighborhoods. If established in Illinois, these introduced pests would not only threaten the diversity of our natural areas, but dramatically impact our forest product industry.
Field Crops Surveys:
The field crops survey focuses on the survey and detection of potential invasive pests of corn and soybeans. Illinois corn and soybeans account for 54 percent and 27 percent of the $19 billion that our agricultural commodities generate each year. Both insect and pathogens could have a substantial impact on agricultural production in our state.
Agricultural Pest Pathways Survey:
Of the 360 non-native insect species that have become established in the United States, approximately 30 percent have become major pests impacting natural areas, community landscapes, agricultural interests, and green industry. Non-native plant pests continue to be introduced at alarming rates through international trade and travel. Highly populated areas are at the highest risk for introduction as they are routinely the crossroads of multiple potential pathways. Not only are there multiple modes of introduction in these areas, but also many pathways in which they can spread to agricultural and natural areas. This survey focuses on two of these pathways - community gardens and small farms.
Once you detect an invasive species, what happens next?
The CAPS program works hand in hand with U.S Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Protection and Quarantine and the Illinois Department of Agriculture conducting the surveys. If detected surveys are then conducted on the area where the pest was found. These delimiting surveys focus on how far the pest is found (in an area). Depending on the pest, eradication plans are put in place. One of the best examples in Illinois is the eradication of the Asian Longhorned beetle.