Cynthia King

 Contact Info 
E-mail: cbaking [at] hawaii [dot] edu


I am originally from Half Moon Bay, CA. I received my B.S. from the University of California in 2001, and moved to the Big Island shortly after graduation. I have since become so enamored with the beauty and diversity of Hawai‘i that I haven't been able to leave the islands.


At present my research focuses on assessing the non-target impacts of introduced parasitoids on endemic leaf-roller moths (Crambidae: Omiodes). The genus Omiodes contains 23 endemic Hawaiian moth species, and individuals in the group have adapted to a wide range of host plants (including grasses, sedges, lilies, palms and legumes). Many of the species have made recent host plant shifts, feeding on plants such as banana and coconut which were introduced by Polynesians approximately 1500 years ago, as well as sugarcane, which arrived in the islands closer to 150 years ago. Two species in this group O. accepta (sugarcane leafroller) and O. blackburnii (coconut leafroller) actually became pests of economic significance on sugarcane and coconut, defying the stereotype that native insects do not become pests. A variety of biocontrol agents were subsequently released for their suppression. At present two-thirds of the other species in the genus are listed as extinct, and the precipitous declines have been attributed to the non-target effects of introduced parasitoids. In the last two years however, five of the extinct species have been “rediscovered,” and with additional surveys it is very possible that more may be detected. My research attempts to quantify the non-target parasitism rates in several Omiodes species. To accomplish this, Omiodes eggs and larvae are exposed to parasitism under varying conditions, then retrieved and reared until eclosion. Field trials were completed on Maui during summer 2006 at upcountry field sites (Makawao FR, Haleakala Ranch, UH Kula Agricultural Station) and lower elevation sugarcane field sites. Additional trials are underway on Oahu at HARC Maunawili, as well as at the UH Manoa Lyon Arboretum. In this manner I hope to understand the impact which parasitism by non-native parasitoids and the effects of predation has on these populations. Whether indicative of low or high impacts by introduced parasitoids, results will provide valuable information for future biological control efforts in Hawai'i. This research is made possible by a Tropical and Subtropical Agricultural Research Grant (TSTAR) from the Cooperative States Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES), US Department of Agriculture.

Previous Work Experience

July 2002 – January 2005
US Geological Survey - Biological Resources Discipline, Pacific Island Ecosystem Research Center, Kilauea Research Station, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

  • Conducting experimental toxicant trials for management of western yellowjacket wasps.
  • Coordinating and completing invertebrate and botanical surveys for National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program anchialine pool survey.
  • Initiating ant survey and monitoring programs inside and outside of Hawai'i National Parks.
  • Surveying riparian zones to monitor Odonates, document behaviors, complete pan-trap sampling of Diptera species.
  • Assisting with invertebrate pitfall trap sample sorting, and morpho-typing of collembola species.
  • Measuring damage to native plant seedlings in wet and dry forest sites.
  • Pig activity surveys.

January 1999 – June 2002
University of California Berkeley, Department of Insect Biology

  • In-lab biological and behavioral experiments with agricultural pests (mealy bugs, scale insects, naval orange worms) and their natural enemies.
  • Field trials for Argentine ant exclusion and toxic baiting studies using experimental chemical controls.
  • Establishing and maintaining insect colonies in UCB Insectary and Quarantine Facility.
  • Augmentative releases of parasitic wasps in vineyard and orchard systems.
  • Data collection, entry, and management.


Insect Systematics and Biodiversity
Principal Investigator
Field Work
For Prospective Graduate Students


Aster leafhopper
Omiodes Moth
Invasive Fruit Flies
Wekiu Bug


Related Links
University of Hawaii
Insect Museum
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