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Archive for the ‘Insects’ Category

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 3-Jul-2014

Contact: Caroline Wood
cwood4@sheffield.ac.uk
44-7771-765335
Society for Experimental Biology

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/sfeb-owh062714.php

 

Many modern crops have high productivity, but have lost their ability to produce certain defence chemicals, making them vulnerable to attack by insects and pathogens. Swiss scientists are exploring ways to help protect 21st century maize by re-arming it with its ancestral chemical weapons.

The researchers, led by Dr Ted Turlings (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland), found that many varieties of modern maize have lost their ability to produce a chemical called E-β-caryophyllene. This chemical is normally produced by traditional ancestors of modern maize roots when the plant is under attack from invading corn rootworms. The chemical attracts ‘friendly’ nematode worms from the surrounding soil which, in turn, kill the corn rootworm larvae within a few days.

The scientists used genetic transformation to investigate if restoring E-β-caryophyllene emission would protect maize plants against corn rootworms. After introducing a gene from oregano, the transformed maize plants released E- β-caryophyllene constantly. As a result, these plants attracted more nematodes and suffered less damage from an infestation of Western Corn Rootworms.

“Plant defences can be direct, such as the production of toxins, or indirect, using volatile substances that attract the natural enemies of the herbivores” says lead scientist, Dr Ted Turlings (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland). One of the types of toxins that maize plants produce against their enemies is a class of chemicals called benzoxazinoids. These protect maize against a range of insects, bacteria and fungi pests, yet some species have developed resistance against these toxins and may even exploit them to identify the most nutritious plant tissues.

These results show how knowledge of natural plant defences can be practically applied in agricultural systems. “We are studying the wild ancestor of maize (teosinte) to find out which other chemical defences may have been lost during domestication of maize” Dr Turlings added. “These lost defences might then be reintroduced into modern cultivars”.

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br-black

 

http://www.brecorder.com/agriculture-a-allied/183/1198273/

July 01, 2014 RECORDER REPORT

 

The Philippines said an insect infestation had damaged another 400,000 coconut trees over the past week and could spread to the key growing areas by the end of this year, severely crippling the country’s most valuable agricultural export.

The fast-spreading infestation at the world’s top coconut oil exporter at a time when global demand is seen outstripping production from Asia, home to 85 percent of output, could further boost prices of the commodity in the world market. “The rate of infestation is very high,” Secretary Francis Pangilinan, who is in charge of the country’s food security, said on Monday while announcing a 24 percent jump in the number of trees affected in the past week to 2.1 million.

“If we don’t intervene, by the end of the year, Regions 5 and 9 would be affected too,” he said, referring to two key growing areas that account for about a fifth of the national output. “It’s a race against time.” Coconut oil prices in Rotterdam have jumped 13 percent this year to a high above $1,420 per tonne in June, as damage to trees from pests tightened supplies that have already been hit by last year’s typhoon in the Philippines.

While the 2.1 million affected trees represent less than 1 percent of the country’s more than 300 million coconut trees, Pangilinan said the entire Philippine coconut industry could get wiped out in just a matter of months if emergency measures to combat the infestation fail.

The country has already taken emergency measures to head off the coconut scale infestation, such as pruning of leaves and spraying of pesticides. The insect feeds on the leaves of the coconut tree, sucking nutrients until the leaves turn yellow, then die and fall off. A thousand insects can multiply to about 200,000 in just 45 days, said Romulo Arancon, administrator of the state agency Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).

There is no official estimate yet on the loss of output from the infestation, but Pangilinan, also chairman of the PCA board, has said the damage could result in losses of more than 33 billion pesos ($756 million) in a year if it spreads to major coconut-growing provinces such as the Bicol region and the Zamboanga Peninsula. The country’s annual exports of coconut products averaged $1.3 billion in the past two years.

Overseas sales of coconut oil, used in products from food to fuel, have dwindled this year after Super Typhoon Haiyan damaged about 34 million trees late last year. Preliminary industry data showed January to May coconut oil shipments plunged 49 percent from a year ago to 302,297 tonnes. The industry group United Coconut Associations of the Philippines, which for now has retained its estimate for a 24.5 percent drop in exports this year to 850,000 tonnes, has said the insect infestation could further hurt output.

Copyright Reuters, 2014

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BBC

FUTURE

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140710-time-to-put-insects-on-the-menu

Could Insects Feed the Hungry World of Tomorrow?, BBC, July 10

More and more of the world is clamouring for protein. But our land and water resources are coming under increasing strain to farm enough beef, pork and chicken to feed everyone who wants to eat it. The answer might be wriggling around our feet: insects.

The practice of eating insects is age-old, with around two billion of us already deriving at least part of our diet from them. But in modern developed societies bugs are often shunned. As nations become richer, the traditional culinary route has been to consume more fast food and choice restaurant cuts, ignoring the valuable nutrition in insects such as mealworms and locusts.

But in an internet-connected age, knowledge about the science of insect protein production has spread. Andrew Brentano, co-founder of Tiny Farms in California’s Silicon Valley, believes there is growing attention around the issue of making edible bugs a significant food source of the future.

This could be particularly useful for developing countries, but Brentano says richer countries could also benefit from this alternative protein source – insects can be farmed in a relatively small space, even in a densely crowded city.

Andrew Brentano spoke to BBC Future at SXSW Interactive in Austin Texas.

Additional video and stills: Courtesy Tiny Farms Inc and BBC News archive

If you would like to comment on this video, or anything else you have seen on Future, head over to our Facebook or Google+ page, or message us on Twitter.

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Logo for IPM CRSP

Annual Report 2013
Posted on May 27, 2014 by Kelly Izlar
The IPM Innovation Labs’s FY 2013 (October 1, 2012–September 30, 2013) annual report is now available. Click below to download the document.

http://www.oired.vt.edu/ipmcrsp/publications/annual-reports/annual-report-2013/

For users with lower bandwidth and/or with interest in only certain specific topic areas, we will split individual chapters and major sections out of the Annual Report for you to view individually. Check back in the coming weeks for a list of individual chapters and sections for download. For more information contact: rmuni@vt.edu

Table of Contents

Management Entity Message
Highlights and Achievements in 2012–2013

Regional Programs
Latin America and the Caribbean
East Africa
West Africa
South Asia
Southeast Asia
Central Asia

Global Programs
Parthenium
International Plant Diagnostic Network (IPDN)
International Plant Virus Disease Network (IPVDN)
Impact Assessment
Gender Equity, Knowledge, and Capacity Building

Associate & Buy-In Awards
Indonesia
Nepal
Bangladesh

Training and Publications
Short- and Long-Term Training
Publications

Appendices: Collaborating Institutions and Acronyms

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High Plains Midwest Ag Journal

http://www.hpj.com/archives/2014/jun14/jun23/0611KSUARCH_LD1PIXsr.cfm#.U6o5xZRdVdM

By Larry Dreiling
The coming attack of the wheat stem sawfly on the Kansas wheat crop was a part of the focus of the annual Wheat Day activities at the Kansas State University Agricultural Center-Hays.
J.P. Michaud, assistant professor of entomology, and Integrated Pest Management leader, discussed how this pest is slowing entering western Kansas wheat fields.
“Insect populations are always changing and this one is not changing for the better,” Michaud said.
The basic fact is the sawfly was identified over a century ago and has been in Kansas for some time but has left alone the crop in the nation’s traditional wheat production state.
It was first reported attacking wheat in Canada in 1896 and soon spread to become a serious pest of spring wheat throughout the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming. Historically, only spring wheat was attacked. It was not until the 1980s that infestations were observed in winter wheat. By 1996, scientists working in Montana determined that the pest had evolved faster and was emerging some 20 days earlier than it previously had, enabling it to survive in early maturing winter wheat. The wheat stem sawfly also has long been present in wild grass species over a much broader range, including Nebraska and Kansas, although neighboring wheat fields were unaffected.
Collectively, research suggests that attacks on winter wheat may have been occurring for some time but went unnoticed because larvae did not complete development. This may be the case in Kansas currently, with populations under strong selection to evolve faster development.
“Winter wheat matures so quickly that the insect doesn’t have time to complete development.” Michaud said. “Sometimes they may lay an egg in that wheat, but those larvae don’t develop until jointing and stem elongation. So, there’s a narrow window for those larvae to complete development.
It is not yet clear if recent winter wheat infestations in the Nebraska Panhandle and northeastern Colorado result from local populations evolving to exploit winter wheat, or the southerly range expansion of an adapted strain. Local populations express significant variation in biology, behavior, and genetics that suggest regional adaptations.
Presently, Kansas is on the southeastern boundary of the region experiencing wheat stem sawfly problems in winter wheat, which is why Michaud is out to reduce the oncoming footprint of the sawfly.
“It’s moving slow, but it is moving,” Michaud said. “Where it stops, when it ends, and its range is really unknown, since we are on the frontier of that range expansion.”
Larry Dreiling can be reached by phone at 785-628-1117 or by email at ldreiling@aol.com.
Date: 6/23/2014

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PHYS ORG

May 15, 2014 by Rod Santa Ana

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A heavy infestation of sugarcane aphids is shown migrating from the grain sorghum stalk to the head.Credit: Danielle Sekula-Ortiz

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service scientists are warning South Texas grain sorghum producers to be on the lookout for a new insect pest that, left unchecked, could wipe out their entire crop.

Dr. Raul Villanueva, an AgriLife Extension entomologist, and Danielle Sekula-Ortiz, an AgriLife Extension integrated pest management agent, say that in recent weeks they have documented explosive populations of sugarcane aphids at levels never seen here before.
To more fully explain to growers the situation, biology and treatment of the sugarcane aphid, the “Sugarcane Aphid Informative Meeting and Field Day” will be held from 9-10 a.m. May 20 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, located at 1015 E. U.S. Highway 83.

“We saw damaging populations of the sugarcane aphid in grain sorghum late in the season last year, but we didn’t see any major problems in the head, where the grain is produced,” Villanueva said. “So, we were hoping it was a one-time event or only a late-season event, or that it wouldn’t affect the head.
“But it’s now obvious that is not the case. We started seeing very high populations three weeks ago, about the time plants were putting out their grain heads.”
Worse still, it became obvious that without treatment, the insects migrate from lower leaves to the head, the “cash crop” area of the plant, Sekula-Ortiz said.
“Why populations increase so dramatically at this stage is not known,” she said. “It could be environmental, in that they prefer higher temperatures, or that the aphids prefer mature plants, or that the seed treatment, which is designed to protect the plant from aphids in the plants’ early stages, simply wears off. Or it could be a combination of those factors.”
Regardless, if growers don’t treat before they migrate to the head, serious crop losses can occur, she said.
“These aphid infestations are hard to spot at first because a field can look nice and green,” Sekula-Ortiz said. “Aphids hide on the underside of the leaves. It’s not until infestations are high that leaf damage becomes visible. Aphids on higher leaves drop their waste, called honeydew, onto the tops of leaves below. First they glisten from the honeydew, then they turn brown as the honeydew attracts sooty mold.”

Once aphids migrate to the head of the sorghum plant, yields are reduced because grains don’t mature, they fail to grow to normal size or numbers, Villanueva said.
“The aphids consume the plants’ cholorphyll and interfere with the plants’ photosynthesis,” he said. “So it’s very important that growers spray a recently approved insecticide before the aphids move up into the head, or panicle.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently approved the Texas Department of Agriculture’s request for emergency use of a product called Transform on grain sorghum to treat for sugarcane aphids.
“The permit was issued April 24 and expires Oct. 31,” Sekula-Ortiz said. “Hopefully, that will help avoid serious crop losses in the current crop of about 250,000 acres, which was planted in mid-February and will be harvested in late June or early July.”
Because of its subtropical climate, Lower Rio Grande Valley growers typically plant a second, much smaller crop of about 50,000 acres in August, which they typically harvest in December.
The sugarcane aphid is not to be confused with another aphid on grain sorghum that growers are much more familiar with, the yellow sugarcane aphid, Villanueva said. The yellow sugarcane aphid affects the lower leaves of plants. Because it is present only during a plant’s early stages, its populations are kept in check by seed treatment and do not pose a problem.
“The sugarcane aphid, by nature, is a much more serious threat,” he said. “As are most aphid species, it is parthenogenetic, meaning populations are all female and don’t require a male to reproduce. When populations become overcrowded, some develop wings and fly off to other fields or plants to colonize there. As soon as they land they don’t lay eggs, they simply give birth to new female aphids. That’s one reason why populations can quickly spread and reach critical levels.”
Aside from the Rio Grande Valley, the sugarcane aphid has also been reported this year in Mexico, Corpus Christi and Beaumont. Both Villanueva and Sekula-Ortiz believe populations will continue moving north as they did last year when they migrated as far as Oklahoma.
“However, so far, there are no reports of any sugarcane aphids west of IH-35 or in the Texas Panhandle,” Villanueva said.
Explore further: Mysterious pest threatens Texas’ billion dollar grain sorghum crop
Provided by Texas A&M University

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-05-scientists-growers-explosive-populations-grain.html#jCp

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Mosquito by Lukas Hofstetter

 

INTERNATIONAL

SCIENCE TIMES

http://www.isciencetimes.com/articles/7187/20140510/climate-change-boon-pests-bane.htm

 

By Kendra Pierre-Louis on May 10, 2014 4:04 PM EDT

Earlier this week, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) released its third national climate assessment, Climate Change Impacts in the United States. Its results, which, although U.S.-focused, echo the results found in a report from late last year by the globally-focused Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), are a boon to post-apocalyptic storytellers and a downer for just about everyone else.

 

Climate change is real, it’s human made, and we’re already experiencing its negative effects.

What’s worse — for farmers, people who like eating, and entomophobes — is that even while climate change is disrupting maple syrup supplies and leaving cities like Sacramento, California so arid that restaurants are encouraged to only serve water at patron request, the one group benefitting from climate change are pests.

Insect pests already have a significant, negative impact on agricultural production. We lose 18 percent of our global crop production to these chitinous shelled creatures. Under climate change their populations are likely to expand. More bugs can potentially lead to more crop loss.

The reason is fairly straightforward. Insects are temperature sensitive. When it gets too cold, they either lay dormant, incapable of reproduction, or die off while their winter tolerant eggs wait for warmer weather. The warmer winters we experience under climate change — even while the U.S. shivered under a Polar Freeze during the winter of 2013-2014, it was still the eighth warmest winter on record, globally — means that fewer insects die off. Come spring time, there are more insects around to wreak havoc on our human systems, like agriculture. Even worse, warmer winters in conjunction with hotter summers means that there are more reproductive cycles in a year. In short, climate change lets more bugs survive, and allows them to reproduce more frequently, creating still more pests.

It’s not just crops that stand to suffer. More pests can lead to more pest-borne diseases like dengue and malaria. A study released earlier this year posits that climate change will hasten the spread of the West Nile Virus. It’s helpful to remember that prior to 1999 West Nile was a disease that was on almost no one’s radar — it’s now present worldwide. And this boon in pest comes at the same time that the U.S. has lost at least seven million bats due to white nose syndrome, a fungus thought to have come from Europe. Bats not only pollinate crops, they eat more than 3,000 insects in an evening, including mosquitoes.

Insects aren’t the only pests that stand to benefit under climate change. Weeds, which, according to the USGCRP currently account for 34 percent of current crop loss and $11 billion dollars spent on weed control — mostly on herbicides, are also projected to become more of a nuisance. Remember in elementary school, learning that plants breathe in carbon dioxide? Weeds, especially pasture weeds, really like carbon dioxide, the very chemical that we’re pumping into the atmosphere that’s causing climate change. The most popular herbicide, glyphosate also known as RoundUp, doesn’t work as well on weeds grown at the carbon dioxide levels projected to occur in the coming decades. Glyphosate is popular both because of its efficacy and because certain crops, like corn, had been genetically modified to withstand its application. Farmers can apply it to their fields and kill only weeds. However, in recent years, weeds have grown increasingly immune to it, and a number of other herbicides earning the nickname “superweeds.” As carbon dioxide levels rise, glyphosate and other herbicides will become even less effective.

In the coming years, if we don’t work to stem the flow of climate change we’ll have more weeds and pest, and fewer weapons in our arsenal to combat them.

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http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/climate-change-will-have-profound-impacts-on-humankind-obama-114042200194_1.html
Press Trust of India | Washington April 22, 2014 Last Updated at 07:12 IST

Observing that climate change is altering the planet in ways that will have profound impacts on humankind, US President Barack Obama has urged Americans to protect environment for a healthy, sustainable future.

“Today, we face a problem that threatens us all. The overwhelming judgement of science tells us that climate change is altering our planet in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind,” Obama said in a proclamation issued yesterday.

“Farmers must cope with increased soil erosion following heavy downpours and greater stresses from weeds, plant diseases, and insect pests.

“Increasingly severe weather patterns strain infrastructure and damage our communities, especially low- income communities, which are disproportionately vulnerable and have few resources to prepare,” he said.

The consequences of climate change will only grow more dire in the years to come, Obama warned, arguing that this is why, last year, he took executive action to prepare US for the impacts of climate change.

“As my Administration works to build a more resilient country, we also remain committed to averting the most catastrophic effects.

He said since he took office, America has increased the electricity it produces from solar energy by more than tenfold, tripled the electricity it generates from wind energy, and brought carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly two decades.

“In the international community, we are working with our partners to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the globe. Along with States, utilities, health groups, and advocates, we will develop commonsense and achievable carbon pollution standards for our biggest pollution source — power plants,” he said.

“Because caring for our planet requires commitment from all of us, we are engaging organisations, businesses, and individuals in these efforts, the US President said.

 

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Praise for new website on African crop pest
03 April 2014 Lancaster University

The UK’s Global Food Security Champion says a Lancaster University website about the African armyworm will help to combat the pest.

Armyworm Network provides important information for farmers in Africa plagued by this devastating pest.

Professor Tim Benton said: “The new website will be a valuable resource for all farmers, governments and others whose lives have been impacted by this major pest of cereal crops in Africa. The forecasts the site provides will be particularly useful for farmers and governments to plan armyworm control activities”.

Armyworms are the caterpillar stage of a moth that migrates throughout sub-Saharan Africa. It is a serious pest of all the main cereal crops, including maize (sweetcorn), rice, millet, sorghum and wheat, as well as pasture grasses, threatening food security in the region.

A cattle farmer from South Africa, who has had armyworms on his pastures for the second year running, said: “I went out early this morning and found hundreds of them on our fields. Last year they destroyed all of our winter grazing (150 hectares), despite our best efforts to control them.

“The website of your university, thousands of kilometres away, was the only comprehensive site I could find with useful information.”

Visitors to the new website can email directly experts in African armyworm biology and control, including Professor Ken Wilson from the Lancaster Environment Centre, who developed the website.

He said, “It is fantastic to be able to launch the new website. The previous site was extremely popular, especially with farmers in Africa and with international agencies wanting to know more about this important crop pest. The new website contains so much more information and is also much easier to navigate”.

The new Armyworm Network provides information and forecasts for large- and small-scale farmers in Africa, as well as for governments, donor agencies, non-governmental organizations, journalists and other stakeholders. It replaces and improves upon its predecessor, which received more than 10,000 visitors from 30 countries during the five years it was operational.

It provides visitors with more information about the biology of this major crop pest, how it can be controlled, current research developing a new biological pesticide against it , press reports of armyworm outbreaks, publications, a live Twitter feed, and regular forecasts issued by international pest monitoring organizations.

http://www.foodsecurity.ac.uk/blog/index.php/author/ken-wilson/

http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/armyworm/

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BY MATTHEW JONES
Friday 4th April 2014, 01:49 London

Whangarei again the site of incursion, only months after authorities deemed another discovery an isolated incident

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New Zealand’s fresh produce industry is again on high biosecurity alert, after the discovery of a second Queensland fruit fly (Q-fly) in Whangarei within three months, according to media reports.

The New Zealand Herald claimed the discovery was made in a surveillance trap located just 400m from where another Q-fly was detected in January. In that instance, heavy restrictions were place on fruit and vegetable trade in the region while a large-scale response operation, involving close to 50 quarantine officials, was undertaken.

New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industry’s (MPI) does not believe the two cases are related, after the investigation into January’s incursion determined it was an isolated incident, with no breeding population of Q-fly. A new control area has been established, with the movement of fresh produce around Whangarei again restricted.

“As in January, it is vital we find out if the insect is a solitary find or if there is a wider population in Whangarei,” MPI spokesman Andrew Coleman told SkyNews. “This insect is an unwanted and notifiable organism that could have serious consequences for New Zealand’s horticultural industry and home gardeners. It can damage a wide range of fruit and vegetables.”

January’s two-week response operation cost New Zealand taxpayers almost NZ$1m (US$850,000). New Zealand Green Party biosecurity spokesman Steffan Browning said this week’s discovery questioned the validity of the January campaign and the country’s biosecurity systems in general.

“Given that the last fruit fly was found in the same region only a few months ago it seems likely there is a connection,” Browning told the New Zealand Herald. “If it is the case that this fruit fly is linked to the previous incursion, then it raises serious concerns about MPI ending their January campaign early, before ensuring there were no other fruit fly in the region.”

Kiwifruit Vine Health chief Barry O’Neil said the discovery posed a low risk to the region’s kiwifruit crop, with no orchards within the control area.

http://www.fruitnet.com/eurofruit/article/161150/new-fruit-fly-discovery-in-nz

 

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