Rufus Isaacs

Rufus Isaacs

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University Distinguished Professor and Berry Crops Entomology Extension Specialist
Department of Entomology



PhD - University of London (1994)
BS - University of London (1994)

See a list of Rufus Isaacs's publications on Google Scholar.

Berry Crops Entomology Lab



Research in our lab supports pest management in Michigan berry crops, through development of monitoring, biocontrol, and cultural control tactics that can be integrated with selective insecticides within IPM programs. Recent focus has been on the invasive spotted wing Drosophila, a new pest causing economic impact  to berry growers in Michigan and around the globe. We are also currently focused on a native wasp pest that causes galling injury to some blueberry cultivars. In the crop pollination arena, we continue to develop components of Integrated Crop Pollination systemswithin a holistic view of farm management for pollination. We welcome undergraduate and graduate students from diverse backgrounds with a passion for exploring the amazing diversity of the insect world, with interest in their conservation and management.

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

Program Description


I provide guest lectures for some colleagues' classes and train postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students in lab and field research techniques.


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 and the blueberry stem gall wasp which is a native pest. We also study crop pollination, with an emphasis on the biology and conservation of native bees particularly in blueberry farms. My lab has recently completed leading a national project to develop sustainable crop pollination practices for specialty crops. This involved four MSU programs and was a nationwide effort with fifteen institutions participating.


My extension program is primarily in berry crop pest management, and it 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, webinars 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 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

  • Daane, K.M., Vincent, C., Isaacs, R., and Ioriatti, C. (2018) Entomological opportunities and challenges for sustainable viticulture in a global market. Annual Review of Entomology 63: 193-214.
  • Isaacs, R., Birch, A.N.E., Martin, R. and T. Woodford (2017). IPM Case Studies: Berry Crops. Pp. 561-569. In: Aphids as Crop Pests, Second Edition. Eds: H.F. Van Emden and R. Harrington. CABI, Cromwell Press, Trowbridge.
  • Isaacs, R., Blaauw, B., Williams, N.M., Kwapong, P., Mader, E., and Vaughan, M. (2016) Farm-tailored measures to sustain and enhance pollination services. Pp. 113-130. In: Toward Sustainable Crop Pollination Services. Ed: Barbara Gemmill-Herren. Routledge, Oxford, UK.
  • Van Timmeren, S., Mota-Sanchez, D., Wise, J., Isaacs, R. (2017) Baseline susceptibility of spotted wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) to four key insecticide classes. Pest Management Science. 10.1002/ps.4702.
  • Van Timmeren, S., Diepenbrock, L.M., Bertone, M.A., Burrack, H.J., and Isaacs, R. (2017) A filter method for improved monitoring of spotted wing Drosophila larvae in fruit. Journal of Integrated Pest Management 28, 23.
  • Leach, H., Fanning, P., Moses, J., Hanson, E. and Isaacs, R. (2017) Rapid harvest schedules and fruit removal as non-chemical approaches for managing spotted wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) in red raspberries. Journal of Pest Science. DOI: 10.1007/s10340-017-0873-9

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