A honeybee is seen on the countertop of entomologist Steve Sheppard’s lab at Washington State University. Sheppard is studying whether he can boost honeybees’ immunity using liquid extracted from wood-rotting mushrooms.

Ken Christensen/Courtesy of EarthFix/KCTS 9

Honeybees need a healthy diet of pollen, nectar and water. But at a bee laboratory in eastern Washington state, Steve Sheppard fills their feeding tubes with murky brown liquid from the forest.

His bees are getting a healthy dose of mushroom juice.

“If this does what we hope, it will be truly revolutionary,” says Sheppard, who heads the Department of Entomology at Washington State University. “Beekeepers are running out of options.”

Commercial honeybees, which pollinate $15 billion worth of crops in the United States annually, have teetered on the brink of collapse for nearly a decade. A third of all bee colonies have died each year since 2006, on average, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientists say the mysterious phenomenon, known as colony collapse disorder, may be the result of at least 60 environmental factors that combine to cripple honeybees — including pesticides, disease, malnutrition, loss of habitat and climate change.

Beekeepers, however, say the honeybee’s single greatest threat is a virus-carrying parasite called the varroa mite.

Sheppard has spent decades breeding western honeybees to better tolerate the mite and its viruses. But he hasn’t had much success, he says.

Varroa mites have devastated U.S. beehives since the late 1980s, when they arrived here from Asia. In 1996, half of the colonies east of the Mississippi River died due to mite infestations.


The reddish-brown pests, which are no bigger than the head of a pin, invade colonies and multiply rapidly. They hide among bee larvae developing in the honeycomb, feed on infant bee blood and lay several eggs each.

“It would be like having something the size of a pancake feeding on you,” Sheppard says.

Honeybees that emerge from the infected hives typically carry illnesses, like a virus that results in deformed wings that prevent bees from flying.

If beekeepers don’t intervene, the varroa mite can destroy a colony in less than two years. Meanwhile, the pest reproduces so rapidly, it builds resistance to chemical pesticides more quickly than solutions can be invented, Sheppard says.

That’s why he decided to try an unconventional approach last year, after local mushroom expert Paul Stamets called him with an idea to help arm the honeybee in its fight against the mite.

“We’ve gone to the moon, we’ve gone to Mars, but we don’t know the way of the bee?” says Stamets, who owns the medicinal mushroom company Fungi Perfecti near Olympia, Wash.

The self-taught mycologist says he noticed a relationship between honeybees and mushrooms when he observed bees sipping on sugar-rich fungal roots growing in his backyard.

“I looked down, and they were sucking on my mycelium,” he says.

Now he thinks he knows why.

In recent years, his research has shown that rare fungi found in the old-growth forests of western Washington can help fight other viruses and diseases, including tuberculosis, smallpox and bird flu. He wondered if the honeybee would see similar health benefits from wood-rotting mushrooms.

“Bees have immune systems, just like we do,” he says. “These mushrooms are like miniature pharmaceutical factories.”

Stamets and Sheppard are feeding liquid extracts of those forest mushrooms to mite-infected honeybees. Initial findings suggest that five species of the wood-rotting fungi can reduce the honeybees’ viruses and increase their lifespans.

In addition, the scientists are trying to fight honeybee viruses by taking aim at the varroa mite itself. Insect-killing fungi have been used as an alternative to synthetic chemical pesticides for years, and previous studies show that one type of entomopathogenic fungus can weaken varroa mites in beehives.

Paul Stamets cultures mycelium at his laboratory near Olympia, Wash.

Paul Stamets cultures mycelium at his laboratory near Olympia, Wash.

Ken Christensen/Courtesy of EarthFix/KCTS 9

Paul Stamets thinks his version of the fungus will be more effective. So far, the results of the experiments in Sheppard’s lab look promising.

“The product seems to be killing mites without harming bees,” Sheppard says.

This fall, the scientists plan to expand both experiments by partnering with commercial beekeepers like Eric Olson, who runs the largest commercial beekeeping operation in Washington.

Olson says two-thirds of his beehives died five years ago because of a varroa mite infestation. After several years successfully controlling the pest, he arrived this year in California for almond pollination season and nearly half of his bees had died during the winter.

He spent $770,000 to buy replacement hives, he says.

“I was lucky that I had the cash and the connections to recover from that,” he says.

Olson recently donated about $50,000 to Sheppard’s department to help find a solution to the mite. Looking at the bees in one of his hives, he says, “I’m really concerned about whether these little girls will survive.”

Ken Christensen is an associate video producer at KCTS9 in Seattle, Wash., as part of EarthFix, a public media collaboration reporting on the environment. This story first appeared on the EarthFix site.

Pest attack hits Aman paddy in Gazipur
Our Correspondent, Gazipur

Dhaka Tribune

BLB on rice

Bacterial leaf blight on rice

Farmers in Gazipur district have become frustrated as pest attacked aman paddy in several areas recently.

Sreepur upazila agriculture officer ASM Moydul Hasan said the paddy had been planted on 13,000 hectares of land in eight unions under Sreepur upazila this year.

Of them, the paddy of 20 bisghas in Bhanghati, Uzilab Telihati unions are attacked severely by Bacterial Leaf Blight  (BLB),a monsoon disease. The incidence and severity of it is very much influenced by rainfall.

The paddies in these areas turned yellow and dry. Farmers wanted to get away from it, but it had drastically reduced the plant.

Without natural control, damage to the paddy was severe if farmers reduced their insecticide use, said the officer.

There are 31 agriculture officers in 38 blocks in the district. But they do not visit their areas timely. As a result, the farmers are deprived of proper training about the pest attack.

Abu Sayed, assistant officer of the upazila agriculture office, said  BLB is an important disease that causes significant yield reduction of crops.

It spreads rapidly from rice plant to rice plant and from field to field in water droplets. Infected leaves develop lesions, yellow, and wilt in a matter of days. Broadening of the genetic base for identification and transfer of genes for BLB resistance from wild relatives of rice is an important strategy in resistance breeding programs.

The people should become conscious about the disease, he said. Recently fake fertilizer and insecticides have flooded the market. The farmers should be alert about it, he added.

Farmer Zahirul Islam of Uzilab village said: “I have planted the paddy on two acres of land this year. The paddy of the land dried out due to the pest attack.”

Mokter Hossain of Telihati union said: “ We have urged the concern authorities about the incident. But we have not get any help yet.”

The upazila agriculture officer special team had been formed to supervise the affected area.

– See more at: http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2015/oct/07/pest-attack-hits-aman-paddy-gazipur#sthash.PrLd4scb.dpuf


By Steve Brachmann on October 8, 2015


The name “pest,” which at times means “nuisance” or “annoying,” doesn’t do the best job at portraying the devastating nature of the insects who attack crops and agriculture around the world. Some estimates provided by academia show us that insects can destroy up to 10 percent of crops in developed nations; in nations that are still developing, pests can take up to 25 percent of the food being grown. Reports out of Ghana indicate that pests and diseases claim up to 30 percent of that country’s crops.

In America, this year has seen a number of troubling insect infestations which have led to major issues in agriculture. An Oriental fruit fly infestation in Florida has led to quarantines affecting up to 500,000 pounds of mamey and 20 million pounds of dragon fruit that would otherwise be harvested. Over in Arkansas, local agriculture experts have issued an alert for unusually levels of earworms, stink bugs and other pests that affect soybean and rice grown in that state. Arkansas is further suffering from new infestations by two insects, the kudzu bug and the sugarcane aphid, which entered the state in 2014 and could attack grain sorghum and more soybean.

Pesticide regulation in the United States goes back to the 1950s when two amendments were made to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The Pesticides Control Amendment of 1954 gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the ability to ban pesticides which it found to be unsafe. In 1958, the Food Additives Amendment introduced the Delaney Clause which contained strong provisions against pesticides found to cause cancer in animals. A few federal agencies provide surveillance of pesticide use in agriculture, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA promotes the Integrated Pest Management program, which seeks the judicious use of pesticide supported by other pest reduction techniques, including crop rotation or planting pest-free rootstock. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the Pesticide Data Program, which collects data for producing a database of pesticide residues found in American crops. In 2014, about half of the food tested by the USDA showed signs of pesticide residue, although most were within levels recognized as safe by the U.S. government.

So there remains a need to address insect and pest problems popping up across the country and pesticides can only be one component of the solution. Today, we’ll be exploring the agricultural world to see what kind of answers have been developed in order to protect crops while ensuring the production of food which is safe for human production.

As is the case for just about every other industry across the world, the Internet of Things has been lauded as a potential boon for crop production, including pest control. Vancouver-based tech company Semios offers an integrated pest management program which utilizes a network of camera-traps to provide farmers with automated pest counts and pest pressure notifications. The Semios system also enables the dispensing of pheromones which can disrupt typical mating schedules for some pests.

Automated IoT pest control systems have also been developed by Spensa of West Lafayette, IN. Its Z-Trap unit is specifically designed for apple orchards to detect the levels of codling moths, one of the more common North American pests for apple trees. Spensa’s Z-Traps can be monitored remotely with the MyTraps software application that the company has developed to record and visualize pest populations from a computer, Android or iPhone. This technology is also being developed to detect for Oriental fruit flies and obliquebanded leafrollers. Pest monitoring systems like this enable farmers to more effectively apply pesticides and hopefully reduce the amount of pesticide used on plants.

Biopesticides are an area of pest control tech which utilize natural, non-synthetic materials that have pesticidal characteristics. The EPA recognizes three different kinds of biopesticide: microbial pesticides, which utilize bacterial or fungal microorganisms; plant-incorporated-protectants (PIPs), genetic material with pesticidal characteristics which can be incorporated into a plant; and biochemical pesticides, naturally occurring substances which can kill pests through non-toxic mechanisms.

Microbial pesticides for use as agricultural biopesticides are an R&D focus for Marrone Bio Innovations Inc. (NASDAQ:MBII) of Davis, CA. On September 14th, the company announced that governmental agencies in Europe gave approval for the company’s Grandevo bioinsecticide to be evaluated as a microbial pesticide, the first such microbial pesticide to be evaluated by EU agencies which doesn’t contain live microbes. Grandevo is developed as a broad-spectrum biopesticide that works against chewing and sucking insects like mites, armyworms and soil-inhabiting pests. The company also markets a biofungicide known as Regalia, which is applied to plants to induce a defense response which both inhibit fungal growth and improves plant vigor.

Big business is starting to get involved with the world of biopesticides. In April of this year, it was announced that Dupont (NYSE:DD) of Wilmington, DE, had acquired microbiome discovery firm Taxon Biosciences of Tiburon, CA, a move which Dupont hopes will enable it to better commercialize biological solutions for agriculture customers around the world. Taxon’s technology offerings include a bioinformatics platform which quickly and effectively analyzes patterns in microbial data sets to identify functional microbes for use in pesticidal applications.

One company which has recently announced a licensing agreement for a biopesticide application developed at Kansas State University is TechAccel of Shawnee Mission, KS. This biotech firm has earned the rights to an exclusive license on a pesticide which is useful for agricultural applications as well as pest management for the home and garden. This pesticide is actually outlined within U.S. Patent double-stranded RNANo. 8841272, entitled Double-Stranded RNA-Based Nanoparticles for Insect Gene Silencing. This patent claims a nanoparticle useful for RNA interference of a target insect gene which is comprised of a biopolymer matrix and an insect double-stranded RNA ranging from 200 to 1,000 base pairs in length; the biopolymer matrix and double-stranded RNA are mixed to self-assemble into the nanoparticle. This nanoparticle achieves a greater effectiveness for delivering RNA inhibitory agents into insects.

Crop protection technologies are a big focus at the annual Agrow Awards, held on September 17th this year at London’s Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel. This event recognizes innovation from all over the world in fields such as formulation, packaging and crop protection. The 2015 recipient of Agrow’s award for best new biopesticide is SolviNix, a pesticidal application developed by BioProdex of Gainesville, FL. SolviNix, approved by the FDA in April of this year, provides a bioherbicide which combats tropical soda apple, a weed which can crowd out other plants and livestock feed.

The recipient of the 2015 Agrow Award for best new crop protection product was presented to Syngenta Crop Protection for its Elatus fungicide developed for peanut and potato growers. Elatus helps protect against a range of fungal infections like Rhizoctonia (stem canker), white mold, leaf spot and rust. It also has good rainfastness, which means that it’s easily absorbed by plant material after application for effectiveness after rainfall or irrigation.

Another innovative answer to the agricultural issues posed by pests is a decidedly low tech one, but effective nonetheless. Some livestock farmers have resorted to the use of parasitic wasps to prevent horseflies and other pests from transmitting diseases to and throughout livestock herds. Wasps seek out certain pests to lay eggs in them, which kills the pests once the eggs hatch. Researchers over at Virginia Tech have also been looking into the use of natural predators to Tuta absoluta, a species of moth from South America which could be devastating to American tomato crops if it reaches the U.S.

New chemical pesticides are still being approved for use on American crops. One such product from Bayer CropSciences was approved by the FDA in January of this year. The insecticide, marketed as Sivanto, a synthetic version of stemofoline which targets certain pests at multiple life stages. This pesticidal application is effective against various neonicotinoid-resistant insects including aphids and whiteflies.


By Sarah Brook

Dr Pip Gerard says a study has shown a relationship between black beetle persistence in pastures and plant pH.

Dr Pip Gerard says a study has shown a relationship between black beetle persistence in pastures and plant pH.

 A new project is underway that could help Waikato farmers combat one of the region’s most pervasive pasture pests.

Funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund, the two-year project will test new on farm tools for eradicating black beetle on New Zealand farms.

AgResearch scientists were setting up trial sites on Waikato farm paddocks last month. One of these trials will test the effectiveness of a new biopesticide bait developed from a bacteria naturally found in soils.

A new Sustainable Farming Fund project will test new tools of stopping Black Beetles damaging Waikato pastures.

A new Sustainable Farming Fund project will test new tools of stopping Black Beetles damaging Waikato pastures.

This bait is thought to be effective against black beetle and other insect pests such as the porina caterpillar.

AgResearch scientist Pip Gerard said the bait had been successful in smaller trials where it had killed adult black beetles.

“This year we have large scale trials involving at least nine paddocks and we’re seeing if treating the beetles in spring – which is the ones out now – will stop them laying eggs and therefore protect the pastures.”

The trials will also continue work done in a previous three-year Sustainable Farming Fund study, which showed there was a relationship between black beetle persistence in pastures and plant pH.

“The plants that had the worst problems of black beetle hanging around had the lowest pH,” Gerard said.

The scientists would look at the timing of lime applications and its effects on black beetle growth in its early life stage.

Black beetle larvae live on soil organic matter and putting lime when they are around disturbs the availability of organic matter when they are getting established.


To view this newsletter online, please click here.

E-Posters and Keynote Presentations

available online

Dear Sir or Madam,

Due to numerous requests from IPPC participants, we are pleased to announce that

the submitted E-Posters as well as Keynote Presentations of the 18th International

Plant Protection Congress are now online and available for download.

How to access the Keynote Presentations:
1) Please go to the IPPC 2015 Programme Planer
2) Click on any day’s plenary keynote presentation
3) Follow the link, “Presentation Available (PDF)”

How to access submitted E-Posters:
1) Please go to the IPPC 2015 Programme Planer
2) Click on any day’s poster session
3) Please select the topic you are interested in
4) All posters of this session will now be shown. Select the one you would like to see!

(Please note that not all E-Posters were submitted)

Would you like to remove your e-poster from the website or do you have any

other questions? Please do not hesitate to contact us at ippc@conventus.de

or via phone +49 3641 31 16-374.

With best regards,

Claudia Tonn
Project Manager IPPC 2015

Responsible for this content is
Conventus Congressmanagement & Marketing GmbH
Claudia Tonn
Carl-Pulfrich-Strasse 1
07745 Jena (Germany)
Fon +49 3641 3116-374
Fax +49 3641 3116-243


Attracting beneficial insects

Photo post.

Source: Attracting beneficial insects

Attracting beneficial insects

Attracting beneficial insects025


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 234 other followers