Rufus Isaacs


Rufus Isaacs

PhD - University of London, Imperial College at Silwood Park (1994)
BS - University of London (1990)

Center for Integrated Plant Systems
578 Wilson Rd. Room 202B
East Lansing, MI 48824

Phone: 517-355-6619

Berry Crops Entomology Lab

Click here to see a list of Rufus Isaacs's publications on Google Scholar.


Over the past decade, our research has supported pest management in Michigan berry crops with greater adoption of monitoring and use of selective insecticides. This progress has been undermined to some extent by the recent arrival of spotted wing Drosophila, but the Early Detection Rapid Response that we put in place has helped develop an effective approach to SWD management in the affected crops, with a ~$20 million reduction in the economic impact of this pest during 2014 compared to the years before. In the crop pollination arena, development of the Integrated Crop Pollination concept, and its development into a national project is changing the dialogue about honey bees vs. native bees and helping to foster a more holistic view of farm management for pollination.

Current assignment: Teaching 10% | Research 45% | Extension 45%

Program Description


I provide guest lectures for colleagues’ classes when invited, and train postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students in lab and field research techniques as part of their graduate education.


My research program explores insect ecology and behavior to develop insect pest management practices for sustainable crop production. Most of this is done in berry crop systems including blueberry, grape, raspberry, and strawberry. Pest management challenges in these crops are addressed by testing new reduced-risk insecticides, developing new pest control tools and tactics, and integrating them into established IPM programs. This is coupled with longer-term studies to understand the ecology and behavior of arthropod pests and their natural enemies. A recent focus has been on the rapid response to spotted wing Drosophila, a new invasive pest of berry crops. We also study crop pollination, with an emphasis on the biology and conservation of native bees particularly in blueberry farms. My lab is currently leading a national project to develop sustainable crop pollination practices for specialty crops. This involves four MSU programs and is a nationwide effort with fifteen institutions participating.


My extension program is primarily in berry crop pest management, and historically has emphasized development of decision tools, conservation practices, and research-based recommendation for various controls to support IPM programs in these crops. This work has been dominated in recent years by information transfer and coordination in response to the arrival of spotted wing Drosophila in our state. We have provided statewide and regional leadership on this pest and how to respond. Our findings are extended to grower, extension, and industry stakeholders by talks, printed and online publications, websites, and through on-farm evaluation and demonstration trials providing real-world experience with new practices. Complementing this area of emphasis, we have also developed and delivered information on pollinator conservation in recent years, filling a need for research-based information on what plants to use for bee forage, taking this from the individual species level, through habitat enhancement strategies, and to landscape level decision-making. This information is also of great interest to gardeners and the general public, and so this information has been connected with growers in addition to garden groups, conservation organizations, USDA NRCS and FSA, and EPA. I make include students and postdocs in planning and delivering extension activities, helping to ensure the availability of the next generation of entomologists with experience interacting with farming communities.


  • Pest Management
  • Pollination
  • Berry Crops
  • Grape
  • Berry Crops IPM
  • Pollinator Conservation
  • Crop Pollination

Professional Experience

  • 2010-Present - Professor, Dept. of Entomology, Michigan State University
  • 2007-2008 - Sabbatical Leave, Carl Hayden Bee Lab, USDA-ARS
  • 2004-2010 - Associate Professor, Dept of Entomology, Michigan State University
  • 1999-2004 - Assistant Professor, Dept. of Entomology, Michigan State University
  • 1997-1999 - Visiting Assistant Professor, Dept. of Entomology, Michigan State University
  • 1994-1997 - Postdoc, Dept. Of Entomology, University of Arizona
  • 1990-1994 - Graduate Student, Department of Biology, Imperial College, Silwood Park
  • 1990 - Biocontrol technician, Dept. of Entomology, ICI, Jealott’s Hill
  • 1988 - Field Trials Biologist, Product Development, American Cyanamid

Selected Publications

  • Lee, J., Dreves, A.J., Cave, A., Kawai, S., Isaacs, R., Miller, J., Van Timmeren, S., Bruck, D. (2015) Infestation of wild and ornamental non-crop fruits by Drosophila suzukii Matsumura (Diptera: Drosophilidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America .
  • Bennett, A.B., Meehan, T.D., Gratton, C. Isaacs, R. (2014) Modeling pollinator community response to contrasting bioenergy scenarios. PloS One 9, e110676.
  • Blaauw, B. and Isaacs, R. (2014). Larger patches of diverse floral resources increase insect pollinator density, diversity, and their pollination of native wildflowers. Basic and Applied Ecology 15, 701-711.
  • Garibaldi, L., Carvalheiro, L., Leonhardt, S., Aizen, M., Blaauw, B., Isaacs, R., Kuhlmann, M., Kleijn, D., Klein, A.-M., Kremen, C., Morandin, L., Scheper, J., and Winfree, R. (2014) From research to action: practices to enhance crop yield through wild pollinators. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12, 439–447.
  • Bennett, A.B. and Isaacs, R. (2014) Landscape composition influences pollinators and pollination services in perennial biofuel plantings. Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment 193, 1-8.
  • Blaauw, B. and Isaacs, R. (2014) Flower plantings increase wild bees and enhance pollination in adjacent blueberry fields. Journal of Applied Ecology 51, 890-898.
  • Roubos, C.R., Rodriguez-Saona, C. and Isaacs, R. (2014) Scale-dependent impacts of insecticides on arthropod biological control. Biological Control 75, 28-38
  • Van Timmeren, S. and Isaacs, R. (2013) Drosophila suzukii in Michigan vineyards, and first report of Zaprionus indianus from this region. Journal of Applied Entomology 138, 519-527.
  • Roubos, C.R., Mason, K.S., Teixeira, L.A.F., and Isaacs, R. (2013) Yield-based economic thresholds for grape berry moth (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) in juice grapes. Journal of Economic Entomology 106, 905-911.

Recommended Links