Archive for the ‘Insects’ Category

Kenya has launched a campaign to control the Fall Armyworm, (FAW) which has been sighted by farmers feeding on Maize in Trans Nzoia County, Kenya. Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mr. Willy Bett said the pest poses a serious threat to the country’s food security situation. “Its impact will be severe given that the country is just […]

via CABI working with Partners to Manage Fall Armyworm in Kenya — The Plantwise Blog

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West Australian potato disease threat stunts trade as growers warned spread ‘almost inevitable’ – ABC Rural – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

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West Australian potato disease stunts trade as growers warned spread ‘almost inevitable’

Posted 30 Mar 2017, 5:26pmThu 30 Mar 2017, 5:26pm

More than 5,000 tonnes of Western Australian seed potato could be dumped due to trade restrictions put in place to deal with the tomato potato psyllid (TPP) outbreak.

The Department of Agriculture and Food of WA (DAFWA) is currently assessing whether the bacterium Candidatus liberibacter solanacearum is present in the state, which has the potential to cause the damaging zebra chip disease in potatoes.

The psyllid was detected in the state last month, which was the first time it had ever been discovered in Australia.

DAFWA introduced new quarantine measures to help contain an outbreak of the psyllid last week as a national plan was released to help monitor and contain the movement of vegetables and seedlings.

The executive director of biosecurity and regulation for the department Kevin Chennell said the disease was going to prove difficult to eradicate.

“There’s national consensus that it’s going to be very difficult,” he said.

“We’re going to be trying very, very hard and working with industry and community to suppress and contain TPP [but] it may be very difficult to eradicate it.”

Western Australian Potato Seed Growers chairman and Albany-based grower Colin Ayres said the restrictions on trade for seed stock interstate was frustrating for the industry.

He said seed stock from WA would need to be exported to South Australia by May if it were to be viable.

“Although everyone’s been kept up-to-date, the wheels of any government move pretty slow,” he said.

“When there’s a timeline to where this product is of no use to anyone, growers do feel frustrated that decisions aren’t made quicker.”

Mr Ayres said growers could potentially be forced to dump 5,000 tonnes of seed stock if trade restrictions were not lifted.

New Zealand experience a warning

This is the first time TPP has been discovered in Australia but the psyllid was first detected in New Zealand more than a decade ago.

The psyllid spread from where it was initially detected on the North Island and was also detected on the South Island three years ago.

Potato industry consultant Dr Iain Kirkwood worked with New Zealand growers for the past five years in attempting to contain the psyllid and zebra chip disease, which can be found in potato crops across the country.

Dr Kirkwood works as a field officer for a seed potato company, Eurogrow Potatoes.

He said, from what he had seen of the spread of the zebra chip disease in New Zealand, he believed it was “almost inevitable” that the psyllid, and the disease if it was found, would spread.

“In terms of being able to manage the disease you have to identify that it’s there first,” he said.

“The disease is a really difficult one to deal with because it’s got so many different expressions.”

But Dr Kirkwood said Western Australian growers should not give up hope.

“Don’t panic, it’s not the end of the world [and] it can be managed,” he said.

“The North Island [of New Zealand] has had it for 10 to 12 years and they’re managing it quite effectively now.”

Dr Kirkwood said growers would need to “get into a cycle” of spraying and monitoring the disease.

He said there were more and more insecticides to manage the psyllid coming on to the market all the time.

Topics: vegetables, quarantine, perth-6000

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BY KSRE | April 13, 2017

Kansas State University, Australian Researchers Join Forces to Combat Insect Pest

Photo courtesy of KSRE

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Researchers at Kansas State University and the University of Queensland in Australia have joined forces to attack and control a microscopic pest that can be devastating to the fruit, vegetable and flower industries.

Ralf Dietzgen, an associate professor in agriculture and food innovation at the University of Queensland, is spending three months at K-State as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in a quest to gather data and develop control measures for the small insect known as thrips.

Dietzgen is working directly with plant pathology professors Dorith Rotenberg and Anna Whitfield, who are co-directors of the Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Plant Virus Disease Control.

Not known to grow larger than 3 millimeters, thrips are voracious eaters, using their asymmetrical mouths to puncture the surface of food crops, flowers and leaves and suck up their contents.

Of equal concern to researchers is that thrips are vectors, or carriers, of more than 20 viruses that cause plant disease, especially the tospoviruses, which also multiply in thrips. Given the right conditions, such as those found in greenhouses, thrips can reproduce exponentially and form large swarms that can transmit viruses to healthy plants.

“They’re very challenging to control, for several reasons,” Whitfield said. “For one, the insect is hard to kill. It is resistant to many insecticides. You can’t just spray crops and hope to control the spread of thrips and tospovirus.

“But secondly, the viruses that thrips can spread are very diverse and can change quickly. I call tospoviruses the influenza of the plant virus world. The predominant virus threat may change because they can switch genome segments and can develop resistance to control measures based on genetic changes. So the viruses have a lot of diversity themselves.”

Whitfield said Dietzgen’s lab in Australia is one of a few in the world that studies viruses that replicate in insects and plants.

“The thrips are a significant pest and have an impact on food security and then on top of that they transmit viruses which cause disease symptoms on the produce, like ring spots, which make them unmarketable,” Dietzgen said.

He noted that when thrips feed on flower buds, the developing fruits often become misshapen. “So you have peppers that are crooked and unmarketable,” Dietzgen said.

“We are studying thrips and the viruses they transmit at the molecular level with the goal of developing applied control strategies,” Whitfield said. “We think that better understanding the molecular mechanisms of the interaction is essential for developing sustainable control strategies for thrips and tospoviruses.”

Dietzgen recently saw first-hand the devastation that thrips-transmitted viruses can cause. One Queensland grower who provides fresh tomatoes for a large supermarket chain lost most of his crop one year due to a tospovirus transmitted by thrips. The lost crop was valued at more than $500,000.

“By the time the grower saw the disease effects, the thrips had moved on and the virus had been left behind,” Dietzgen said.

“The virus that Ralf is studying isn’t in the U.S. just yet, but thrips insects are able to move around easily so that they could appear hidden in a shipment of produce,” Whitfield said. “Any shipment of vegetables or plants that is traveling around the world could have similar pathogens and pests in it. As a control measure, we are trying to develop broad spectrum, durable resistance using different technologies.”

While Dietzgen’s stay at Kansas State University is relatively short, the researchers hope their new partnership will help lead to long-term solutions for agriculture.

“Both of our labs have generated large sets of genomic data that we’re starting to compare during my stay,” Dietzgen said. “By doing that, we hope to come up with potential targets for pest and disease control for longer term crop protection. We are asking, ‘What are the functions of these potential molecular targets and can we interfere with them?’”

Rotenberg and graduate student Derek Schneweis have compiled large sets of data outlining the messenger RNA molecules in thrips. Whitfield said their work may give new insight into how to control thrips in horticultural crops, as well as how to protect those crops from tospoviruses and other plant disease.

The prestigious U.S. Fulbright program is the largest educational scholarship of its kind, and was created after World War II by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright. It operates between the U.S. and 155 countries.

More than 20 Fulbright Scholarships are awarded each year to Australian students, postdoctoral researchers, academics and professionals to pursue studies or conduct research in the United States.

In 2014, Kansas State University became the first U.S. educational partner of the Australian-American Fulbright Commission. Each year since, the university has hosted Fulbright Scholars from Australia to study and collaborate with Kansas State University researchers.

Kansas State also helped form the Oz to Oz program to encourage exchanges with faculty at Australian universities, often as seminar speakers.

© 2017 Nebraska Rural Radio Association. All rights reserved. Republishing, rebroadcasting, rewriting, redistributing prohibited. Copyright Information

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U.K.: Drones to tackle fruit fly spread on soft fruit farms – FreshFruitPortal.com

April 10 , 2017

Scientists at Scotland’s University of Aberdeen are using drone technology to create a new monitoring system for the fruit fly Drosophila suzukii. 

The drones will detect the pests much earlier than traditional methods by flying over “sticky traps” where the fruit fly can be identified from the air. Imaging capturing and processing systems will be developed to automatically differentiate fruit flies from other pests.

Also known as Spotted Wing Drosophila, the fruit fly has become a serious threat to soft fruit growers since arriving in the U.K. from Europe in 2012. Over the last few years it has affected several crops including strawberries, raspberries and grapes.

The three-year drone project aims to hone in on early detection, altering growers so they can take swift action to prevent crop damage, and improve upon the current monitoring methods which are time-consuming and costly.

Dr David Green, from the University of Aberdeen, explains how the Drosophila suzukii spreads rapidly and early detection is key to containing the devastating pest which has been found on farms in England’s key soft fruit growing regions in the south-east and as far north as Dundee, Scotland.

“One of the main challenges of our work will be developing a method that automatically identifies the presence of the fly among other pests. Our Dutch partners at the University of Wageningen are specialists in image processing, and our aim is to develop an image-capturing and processing system that can recognise the fly and carry out an automatic count in order to determine the density of the infestation.

“Ultimately, our goal is to develop a system which has real value for soft fruit growers – many of whom operate on tight margins – that can help protect their livelihoods.”

The project is funded by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), also involves Dr Johannes Fahrentrapp at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland and Dr Lammert Kooistra the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands.

Photo: http://www.shutterstock.com


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Study identifies ways to encourage ‘refuge’ planting, slowing resistance to Bt crops

April 3, 2017 by Matt Shipman

Study identifies ways to encourage ‘refuge’ planting, slowing resistance to Bt crops
Credit: Alexander Steinhof

A new study from North Carolina State University finds a significant shortfall in the amount of “refuge” cropland being planted in North Carolina – likely increasing the rate at which crop pests will evolve the ability to safely devour genetically engineered Bt crops. However, the study also identified actions that may make farmers more likely to plant refuge crops in the future.

For about 20 years, have made use of Bt to limit crop damage from pests. Bt crops, including corn, are genetically engineered to produce proteins from the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacterium. These proteins are harmless to vertebrates, but toxic to a specific class of invertebrate crop pests.

To date, these Bt crops have been remarkably successful. However, insect pests have shown the ability to evolve resistance to Bt proteins. In order to slow down the development of Bt resistance, farmers who plant Bt crops are urged to plant a certain percentage of their fields with non-Bt crops – called refuge crops. In fact, in the case of Bt corn, farmers are required to plant a section of their fields with refuge crops.

That’s because refuge crops provide fodder for insect pests that are not resistant to Bt proteins. These pests are then able to breed with their Bt-resistant counterparts, diluting Bt resistance in the overall population.

But compliance with planting refuge crops is variable. Some growers plant too little of their fields with Bt crops, and some don’t plant refuge crops at all.

This raised some interesting questions for Dominic Reisig, an associate professor of entomology at NC State and an extension specialist at the Vernon James Research & Extension Center in eastern North Carolina. Reisig divides his time between conducting research and helping farmers deal with problems related to insect . Recently, Reisig began to wonder: How many growers aren’t planting sufficient refuge crops? Do growers understand the rationale behind refuge crops? What can influence whether growers plant refuge crops? And what factors affect a grower’s willingness to plant refuge crops?

To address these questions, Reisig talked with several hundred corn growers in more than a dozen counties in eastern North Carolina.

Reisig found that approximately 40 percent of corn growers who used Bt corn would not plant refuge crops in the next growing season, while another 25 percent weren’t sure. However, a majority of growers did understand the value of refuge crops – and felt they should be planting them.

Reisig also found that there was a high correlation between how much land was devoted to corn, cotton and soybeans in a county, and how likely farmers in that county were to plant refuge crops. The more land being devoted to crops, the more likely farmers were to plant refuge.

“Some of the resistance to planting refuge may be due to a lack of understanding about how important refuge crops are,” Reisig says. “But it’s also likely to be a function of the fact that many of the farms in counties with low refuge crop compliance are smaller operations. Growers may simply be trying to get more crop yield from their acreage – though there is little evidence of short-term benefit, and ample evidence of long-term risk from Bt-resistant pests.”

Reisig also found that better enforcement and peer pressure from other farmers weren’t seen as making farmers more likely to plant refuge crops. Instead, growers said that financial incentives – such as rebates on non-Bt seed – would make them more likely to plant crops, as would the availability of high-yield non-Bt seed.

“This study is really a starting point,” Reisig says. “We know this is a problem. I’m looking for partners in the social sciences to help me figure out how we can help growers make informed decisions and protect the long-term viability of their crops.”

Explore further: Armyworms develop resistance to Bt corn

More information: Dominic D. Reisig. Factors Associated With Willingness to Plant Non-Bt Maize Refuge and Suggestions for Increasing Refuge Compliance, Journal of Integrated Pest Management (2017). DOI: 10.1093/jipm/pmx002

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-04-ways-refuge-resistance-bt-crops.html#jCp

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Red beetle threatens the global production of dates and coconuts

A little red beetle that devastates palm is rapidly spreading around the
world and threatens the production of dates and coconuts, unless we manage to stop its advance.
Scientists, experts in pest control, agricultural ministers and representatives of farmers participating in a three-day meeting that began today at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome will discuss and define a plan for international action to stop the spread of the red palm weevil. The pest attacks the date palms and coconut trees, as well as ornamental palms found in many European cities.
Over the past three decades, the weevil has spread rapidly through the Middle East and North Africa, affecting almost the entire region. It has already been detected in more than 60 countries including France, Greece, Italy, Spain and parts of the Caribbean and Central America.
“The red palm weevil is the most dangerous threat to date palms,” stated the Deputy Director General of FAO and Regional Representative for the Middle East and North Africa, Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, at the meeting’s opening session. “Insufficient implementation of phytosanitary standards, the lack of an effective preventive strategy, and inadequate monitoring of response measures explain the failure to stop the plague so far,” he added.
The FAO, in collaboration with the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), organized the Scientific Consultation and High Level Meeting on the red palm weevil.
“The Mediterranean area is home to a rich biodiversity of plant species that must be protected because of social, economic, and environmental reasons. Therefore, it’s essential to have a sustainable strategy to protect the entire region from phytosanitary threats, “said Cosimo Lacirignola, the Secretary General of CIHEAM.
An invisible killer 
The red palm weevil causes millions of dollars in economic damage annually, either by the loss of production or the costs of combating the plague. Each year, the Gulf countries and the Middle East lose 8 million US dollars removing heavily infested trees. The combined cost of fighting the plague, removing and replacing infested palms, and loss of profits caused by it in Italy, Spain, and France amounted to nearly 90 million euro in 2013. This cost is expected to increase to 200 million euro by 2023 if the area doesn’t apply a strict containment program.
Part of the problem is that the red palm weevil is extremely difficult to detect in the early stages of an infestation, as there are very few visible external signs that the pest has taken over a tree: the insects remain hidden from view for almost 80 percent of their lifecycle. When it comes to tall palm species, the infestation is even more difficult to detect as the tree top is very high, and once the pest has been installed, it is too late to save them.
Oases threatened 
Palm trees are an important resource for many communities in the Middle East and North Africa. The dates have been a staple food for centuries there, and they are now an important cash crop, as the area produces more than seven million tons of this product. In total, there are currently about 100 million date palms, 60 percent of which are in Arab countries. The red palm weevil attacks young and soft trees, which are no more than 20 years old. About half of the 100 million palms match this criteria and are therefore vulnerable.
Palm trees are also vital to maintain the culture system of oases, which allow other productive trees and plants to grow under the palm’s canopy. If the pest is not stopped, the production will be strongly affected, which could lead to an economic migration of communities living in the urban oases.
High-tech solutions 
Scientific Consultation, and High Level Meetings on the red palm weevil, focus on containing the spread of the pest. The attendees will share the progress in integrated pest control, such as the selective and reduced use of insecticides and bio-pesticides, the use of highly sensitive and low cost microphones that can detect the larvae feeding inside the trees, pheromone-based traps, drones, remote sensing, and sniffer dogs. On Friday’s session, government representatives will discuss and adopt a multi-disciplinary and multi-regional strategy that includes effective implementation of cross-border phytosanitary standards.
Source: elmundo.cr

Publication date: 4/3/2017

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tuta absolutatuta S american

The webpage links below have all of the materials, presentations, and the videos from the recent training programs on Tuta absoluta, the devastating South American tomato leafminer, conducted by the USAID IPM Innovation Lab program and the USAID ENBAITA project in Nepal..

Tuta Materials Webpage:


IPM Vegetable Package Materials Webpage:


Luke Colavito, PhD

IPM Innovation Lab, Nepal Manager

iDE Nepal, Country Director

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