Winter Speaker Series

2023-2024 Zoom Speaker Series

Biocontrol Research in Merrymeeting Bay

Hilary Peterson

Integrated Pest Management Specialist
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry

Wednesday, March 13, 2024 at 7:00 pm
See You Tube Presentation Below

Hilary Peterson

Friends of Merrymeeting Bay’s (FOMB) sixth presentation of their 27th annual Winter Speaker Series: Biocontrol Research in Merrymeeting Bay features Hilary Peterson, Integrated Pest Management Specialist with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry. Winter Speaker Series presentations are held via Zoom and are accessible via hyperlink at the top of the FOMB web page: This event takes place Wednesday, March 13th at 7 pm.

For a variety of reasons, including intentional and accidental human introductions and or natural spreading by assorted vectors, including wind, wildlife and climate change, the rise in non-native species are of worldwide concern. These species, sometimes simply exotic or often invasive, and whether flora or fauna, can sometimes cause dramatic and often harmful environmental and or economic effects. Traditional control of invasive species has often meant pesticide or poison application which can often affect non-targeted species. In recent years researchers have experimented with a number of potentially “softer paths” including biological controls. In this program, Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry (DACF) Integrated Pest Management Specialist Dr. Hillary Peterson, will describe her local work deploying two classical biological control agents for invasive species in Maine. For the invasive spotted wing drosophila (a cousin to the common fruit fly), which is extremely problematic for small fruit and berry crops, Peterson teamed up with the Fanning Lab at U. Maine to release the parasitoid Ganaspis brasiliensis. For the invasive black swallow-wort, an incredibly challenging to control plant that confuses monarch butterflies, Peterson worked for a second year to release and track potential establishment of Hypena opulenta, a species of moth from the Ukraine. The caterpillar stage of this moth only feeds on swallow-worts.

Peterson is the Integrated Pest Management Specialist at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry within the Plant Health Programs. Hillary grew up in Brunswick, Maine, and received her B.S. in Biology at the University of Maine, and then her Ph.D. in Entomology at Penn State University. She has spent time working with invasive species and biocontrol in several agroecosystems including berries, tree fruit, and corn. She recently moved back to Brunswick and couldn’t be happier to be back in her home community!

FOMB hosts their Winter Speaker Series October-May, on the second Wednesday of each month. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic and ability for participants to attend from out of the area, the series continues via Zoom. The FOMB April 10th presentation: Bald Eagles: Recovery, Research & Conservation features Chris DeSorbo, Director of the Raptor Program at Biodiversity Research Institute. This event takes place at 7:00 pm with the Zoom registration link available at a week or so prior to the presentation.

Speaker Series presentations are free, open to the public. Visit to see speaker biographies, full event schedules, video recordings of past presentations, become a member, and learn more about how you can help protect beautiful Merrymeeting Bay and the Gulf of Maine.

For more information contact FOMB at 207-666-3372 or


Watercolors by
Sarah Stapler