Published in the
Lincoln (NE, USA) Journal Star
November. 19, 2014
Published in the
Lincoln (NE, USA) Journal Star
November. 19, 2014
Philippine Information Agency
October 14, 2014
LEGAZPI CITY, Oct 14 (PIA) – The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has been stepping up its information campaign, monitoring and eradication operations as key strategies in strengthening defense against the threat of Coconut Scale Insect (CSI) or cocolisap infestation in the Bicol region.
PCA Bicol regional manager Mateo Zipagan said part of these strategies is the creation and training of the Bicol CSI Task Force held on October 8-9 at the PCA Albay Research Center in Banao, Guinobatan Albay to further strengthen their stand against the threat of CSI spread in the region.
“This activity aims to strengthen our stand against the threat of CSI spread in all fronts. Focal persons from all provinces and partner agencies in the region will be part of the task force and our field team whenever surveillance and control operations are to be done,” Zipagan said.
He revealed that nine coconut trees in Sta Elena and Del Gallego have been identified as infected with cocolisap but is now under control after conducting trunk injection further noting that a defense line has been established to prevent further spread and ensure proper monitoring.
Quarantine operations has likewise been conducted in the region to prevent the spread of CSI from infested to non-infested areas as specified under Executive Order No. 169.
The said EO aims to establish emergency measures to control and manage the spread and damage of Aspidiotus rigidus or cocolisap in the country designating the PCA as the lead agency for the purpose.
“Land and seaport checkpoints have been established in all provinces in the region manned by deputized plant quarantine inspector (PQI) and quarantine guards,” Zipagan said.
From the said checkpoints, he cited the interception and return to origin of 500 pieces coconut seedlings and 60 pieces mango seedlings from Unisan, Quezon and confiscation and burning of 30 pieces infested coconut seedlings from Gumaca, Quezon to Macahadoc, Sta Elena, Camarines Norte.
CSI outbreak has been declared in Batangas, Cavite, Laguna and Quezon.
CCA senior science research specialist Johana Orense said infestation of CSI anchored in masses on the underside of infested leaflet involves yellowing and wilting of infested leaves and eventual drying at advanced stage.
“Among the visible damages are lesser and undersized nuts, shorter leaves and discolored leaflets due to drying and reduced photosynthetic activity,” she said.
Orense noted that among the factors that can trigger pest outbreak factors are temperature, relative humidity, pollutants level, climate change, planting density, susceptibility of host plants and population imbalance of the pest and natural enemies.
“If all the environmental factors favorable to CSI outbreak are met and no interventions or treatment will be made, then an outbreak will most likely occur within a 15 kilometer radius from the focus of infestation in less than a year,” she explained.
Three species of beetles and wasps identified as natural enemies of cocolisap are being mass-produced in the laboratories of PCA and Regional Crop Protection Center.
“These natural enemies are being released to control the population of cocolisap and restore a balanced ecosystem,” Orense said.(MAL/SAA-PIA5/Albay)
By Nathanael Johnson
13 Nov 2014 12:40 PM
There’s a story going round right now that makes it sound like the California Department of Food and Agriculture is planning to spray pesticides on organic farms, forcing them to go conventional. What’s actually happening is a lot less exciting, but still worth knowing about.
First, the background: Yes, the state of California does pest control — and that’s a good thing. Insect control doesn’t work very well if it’s done in a patchwork. You knock out some here and some there, but the bugs between those patches thrive and come back stronger the next year. This is especially true when you’re dealing with a non-native organism that’s just been introduced. If you can get rid of those pioneers, you have far less need for pest control in the long run.
For about the last 20 years, California has used integrated pest management — which means it tries to handle problems without chemicals, if at all possible. Often this means using biological controls, releasing predators or parasites that will kill the pest.
For instance: Every day, an airplane flies over the Los Angeles basin, releasing a stream of sterile male Mediterranean fruit flies. Those flies go out and mate with the females, preventing them from reproducing. It works, and it has prevented farmers from turning to pesticides.
And then there are times when the state decides that the best way to deal with a pest is with a chemical pesticide. And yes, if the state decides it really needs to, it can spray on someone’s farm, even an organic farm. That has actually occurred, said Steve Lyle, spokesperson for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, but it’s incredibly rare.
All this has been going on for years. But now the state has put out a new environmental impact report that details everything it does in pest control. The individual programs — like the Mediterranean fruit fly program — all have their own environmental approvals. All this new report does is put everything into one document and update it. “This doesn’t give us any new authority,” Lyle said.
Still, this is an opportunity for stakeholders like the organic farmers to weigh in. Most of the time, the state’s pest control doesn’t happen in farmland. But it could.
In an email, Lyle wrote:
[I]n rare cases, it may be necessary for the Department to require treatment by producers. While a great deal of time and resources are dedicated to finding organic approaches, if a suitable approach cannot be identified, a producer would not lose organic status. The organic industry worked with regulators to make sure that provision is in federal law.
The draft report notes that, in this scenario, organic farmers would lose money, because they’d have to sell their crop without the organic premium that season. But they could return to organic production the next year. Individual farmers would pay a price — but in the long run, there would be less spraying overall, and fewer losses for organic farmers at large.
Kansas State University
Released: 13-Nov-2014 10:00 AM EST
Source Newsroom: Kansas State University
Newswise — MANHATTAN, Kansas — Several states, including Kansas, are trying to protect their borders from a little beetle that could cost the black walnut industry millions of dollars. Kansas Forest Service specialists at Kansas State University say you could be spreading the disease without knowing it.
Thousand cankers disease has been confirmed in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Vermont, Nevada, California, Idaho, Washington, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. Several quarantines have been established in an attempt to prevent the disease from spreading. States in quarantine include Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wyoming and Montana.
“It’s an interesting disease that requires two parts,” said Ryan Armbrust, a forest health specialist with the Kansas Forest Service. “There’s a small walnut twig beetle that will feed on the twigs of black walnut trees. In doing this, it will spread a fungus that causes cankers and causes the tree’s vascular system to clog up and die.”
The beetle is tiny —about the size of the letter “i” in the word Liberty on a dime. The flight season for the beetle is typically in the warmer months, but it can survive in the tree throughout the year. Since there are currently no viable treatment options, Armbrust says the best defense is to avoid moving black walnut tree firewood or lumber out of an area, especially if it still contains the bark.
“While it may seem safer to move black walnut material in the wintertime, when the beetle isn’t flying around, that beetle could still be contained within that bark. When it warms up in the spring, it could come out,” Armbrust said. “There really is no safe time of year to move black walnut lumber, especially from an area that has been infested.”
Kansas is home to about 25 million black walnut trees, which are an important part of the economy. The Kansas Forest Service estimates the state would lose at least $160 million in revenue from the lumber and nut production if these trees were destroyed by thousand cankers disease.
Odor molecules monitor pest that spreads devastating citrus disease
IMAGE: The Asian citrus psyllid, seen here, is an efficient vector of a bacterium that causes a lethal citrus disease.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) is an efficient vector of a bacterium that causes a lethal citrus disease, huanglongbing (HLB), one of the most destructive diseases of citrus worldwide.
ACP-HLB is a serious threat to California’s annual $2 billion citrus industry. This insect-disease combination has cost Florida’s citrus industry $1.3 billion in losses, and production costs have increased by 40 percent.
Now a research team at the University of California, Riverside has targeted the olfactory system of the psyllid, and identified a suite of odorants – odor molecules – that the ACP olfactory system detects. Some of these odorants can modify the behavior of ACP and lead to the development of tools to tackle its spread worldwide, the researchers report.
“The ACP olfactory system is sensitive to a variety of odorants released by citrus plants. This presents an opportunity to develop attractants and repellents using odors,” said Anandasankar Ray, an associate professor of entomology and the director of the Center for Disease Vector Research, who led the research project.
Ray explained that the ACP detects citrus plant odors using tiny pit-like sensors (containing neurons) on its antenna. His lab performed a large-scale analysis of numerous citrus emitted odors and identified those odors that strongly activate the citrus odor sensitive neurons on the ACP antenna. Then, using a blend of activating odorants, the researchers developed an efficient attractant that could lure ACP to yellow sticky traps.
“We anticipate that this odor-based insect lure could be of use to growers in California and other parts of the world where ACP invasion is occurring,” Ray said.
Study results on the lures appear in the Oct. 27 issue of PLOS ONE. The large scale identification of odors that are detected by ACP appears in the 39th issue of Chemical Senses. Both studies were funded by the California Citrus Research Board.
One of the major gaps in ACP control is the lack of effective surveillance traps to track the rapid spread of these highly invasive insects that are fast spreading globally. Currently, HLB is mostly managed by spraying insecticides and swiftly removing infected trees. But if the ACP develops insecticide resistance, commercially managed citrus groves could be in jeopardy. Further, abandoned citrus groves could become prolific reservoirs of HLB.
The blend of odors Ray and his team of researchers identified consisted of myrcene, ethyl butyrate and p-cymene – odors found in nature. To test whether this blend was indeed effective as an attractant, Ray and his team of researchers performed field trials, spread over 10weeks, in citrus trees located in backyards in a residential neighborhood in El Monte, Calif. They found that the odor-based yellow traps caught nearly 230 percent more ACP than conventional yellow traps placed on the same trees.
“What’s particularly encouraging is that these three chemicals are affordable, useful in small quantities and safe for human handling,” Ray said. “They could be developed into monitoring and surveillance tools. Similar approaches can be taken to develop control strategies using odors for other insect pests of crops as well. Our study also reports identification of odors that block the ACP olfactory system from detecting citrus odors and have potential for development into repellents.”
The Ray Lab has already identified odor molecules that can severely impair, if not completely disrupt, the carbon dioxide and skin-odor detection machinery of mosquitoes. Recently his lab discovered the receptor proteins in insects that detect the repellent DEET and used it to identify several naturally occurring, pleasant smelling odor repellents for mosquitoes and flies that were better than DEET. Both are approaches that can help control the spread of diseases mosquitoes transmit – malaria, dengue, yellow fever, filariasis and West Nile virus.
Besides California, ACP and HLB are found in Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, the Caribbean, Central America, and large parts of Mexico and Brazil.
When the ACP feeds on leaves and stems, it injects the bacterium into the trees and, within a few years of infection, the leaves turn yellow and the fruit becomes misshapen and bitter. The tree dies within 5-8 years of infection.
Ray was joined in the PLOS ONE study by UC Riverside’s Iliano V. Coutinho-Abreu, Lisa Forster and Tom Guda; and by Coutinho-Abreu, Forster, Shane McInally and Robert Luck in the Chemical Senses study.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture assigned the location for the field trials after securing permission from landowners for setting up traps. Toxicity information and exposure potential of the chemicals tested as lures were reviewed by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency.
The UCR Office of Technology Commercialization has filed a patent on the technology reported in the research paper, which has been licensed to ISCA Technologies.
Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
University of California – Riverside
Released: 29-Sep-2014 4:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sep-2014
Newswise — MADISON, Wis. — Mountain pine beetles get a bad rap, and understandably so. The grain-of-rice-sized insects are responsible for killing pine trees over tens of millions of acres in the Western U.S. and Canada over the last decade.
But contrary to popular belief, these pests may not be to blame for more severe wildfires like those that have recently swept through the region. Instead, weather and topography play a greater role in the ecological severity of fires than these bark-boring beetles.
New research led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources provides some of the first rigorous field data to test whether fires that burn in areas impacted by mountain pine beetles are more ecologically severe than in those not attacked by the native bug.
In a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, UW-Madison zoology professor Monica Turner and her graduate student, Brian Harvey, show pine beetle outbreaks contributed little to the severity of six wildfires that affected more than 75,000 acres in the Northern Rocky Mountains in 2011. They also show that the beetle outbreaks, which occurred from 2000 through 2010, have not directly impacted post-fire recovery of the forests. The study does not, however, address fire behavior, such as how quickly fires spread or how dangerous they are to fight.
While the findings may exonerate the insect scapegoats, they should also help ecosystem managers better respond to changes in the face of climate-driven disturbances, like drought and warmer temperatures.
Large, severe fires are typical in the lodgepole pine forests found throughout the region, even without mountain pine beetle outbreaks. However, as the climate has warmed, outbreaks and big fires have both become more common. The phenomenon of more beetles has meant more dead trees, and some have grown concerned about how beetle attacks and wildfires may interact.
“The conventional wisdom is that a forest of dead trees is a tinder box just waiting to burn up,” says Turner, who has long studied the forest landscape of the Mountain West. “There were very little data out there but a lot of concern.”
Forests attacked by bark beetles — which burrow into the bark of lodgepole pines to mate and incubate their larvae — can seem nothing more than ample kindling for a raging blaze, with their dead wood and dry, reddish-brown needles.
The burrows the beetles carve under the bark of pines, called galleries, choke off water and nutrient circulation in the trees. The trees die and, for the first couple of years, they hold on to their dry, lifeless needles. Scientists call this the “red stage,” and some believe these trees could fuel more severe fires.
By year three, most beetle-attacked trees have entered the “gray stage,” dropping their once green pine foliage, becoming needleless wood carcasses.
Earlier studies from Turner’s group suggested that beetle outbreaks would not lead to more severe fires. But without actual fires, the interaction could not be tested.
However, in 2011, wildfires throughout eastern Idaho and western Montana — in forests that had experienced varying mountain pine beetle outbreak impacts — provided opportunity for the research team to begin to answer the question: Do the two disturbances, beetle attacks and wildfire, together change the ecological response of the forest to fire?
Fortunately for the team, among the burned areas studied were pine stands that had not been attacked by beetles. These areas served as controls. Others suffered a range of mortality from the beetles; in some stands, beetles killed nearly 90 percent of the trees prior to wildfire. The fires that raged also ran the spectrum of severity, allowing the researchers to compare a number of variables.
Some study plots comprised mostly live trees, while others contained mostly red-stage or gray-stage trees — allowing the researchers to assess whether plots with red-stage trees (with dry needles) experienced greater levels of fire severity than plots with mostly gray-stage trees (no needles), as they and others had expected.
The study team examined ecosystem indicators of fire severity, such as how many trees were killed by fire and how much char covered the forests.
Engaging in what Harvey calls “post-fire detective work,” in 2012, the scientific team evaluated fire severity in each study plot and stripped sections of bark from over 10,000 trees to determine what killed them, beetles or fire. Beetle galleries can remain visible under the bark even after fire.
As they sifted through the blackened trees and forest floor, the team became covered with ash and soot.
“We looked like coal miners when we were done,” says Harvey.
They found that the severity of the outbreak and whether trees were in the red or gray stage had almost no effect on fire severity under moderate burning conditions.
Only under more extreme fire-burning conditions — when it was hot, dry and windy — did areas with more beetle-killed trees show signs of more ecologically severe fires, such as more deeply burned trunks and crowns (the part of the tree that includes its limbs and needles). The presence of more gray-stage trees actually had a stronger impact on fire severity than the amount of red-stage trees, to the surprise of the scientists.
Overall, however, Turner says the effects of beetle outbreaks on fire severity took a back seat to stronger drivers — primarily weather and topography. Fire severity increased under more extreme weather, regardless of pre-fire outbreaks, and forest stands higher in the landscape burned more severely than those at lower elevation as fires moved uphill, building momentum.
“No one says beetle-killed forests won’t burn,” says Turner. “The data set looks at whether they burn with different severity compared to unattacked forests burning under similar conditions.”
The team was also interested in whether beetle outbreaks slowed the recovery of the forests after fires. Lodgepole pines are adapted to fire, containing two types of seed-carrying cones: those that release seeds as soon as they mature and those that require fire to open, blanketing the forest floor with potential new life following a blaze.
By counting the number of post-fire tree seedlings in their plots, the researchers found very little beetle-related impact. Tree seedlings were most numerous where more of the fire-killed trees bore the fire-adapted, or serotinous, cones. Beetle-killed trees likely contributed to post-fire seedling establishment, too, as their seeds remain viable in cones if they are not consumed in fire. Only high-reaching char from tall flames reduced the number of seed-spreading cones.
The scientists emphasize the results may differ in other forest types or with different lengths of time between beetle outbreaks and fire.
“These are both natural disturbances, fire and beetle outbreaks,” says Turner. “It’s not surprising the ecosystem has these mechanisms to be resilient. What we as people see as catastrophes are not always catastrophes to the ecosystem.”
The study was funded by Joint Fire Science Program Grants and the National Park Service/George Melendez Wright Climate Change Fellowship.
Monday, August 25, 2014/ Lincoln (NE) Journal Star