Archive for the ‘Biological control’ Category

Ninth International Conference on Management of the Diamondback Moth and Other Crucifer Insect Pests

Photo by Dr. Srinivasan Ramasamy

The Ninth International Conference on Management of the Diamondback Moth and other Crucifer Insect Pests will be organized by the World Vegetable Center in association with Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) in Cambodia and Taiwan Agricultural Chemicals and Toxic Substances Research Institute (TACTRI). The conference will be held during May 2-5, 2023 at Phnom Penh, Cambodia. About 100 – 150 researchers worldwide are expected to participate and present research papers. The conference is designed to provide a common forum for the researchers to share their findings in bio-ecology of insect pests, host plant resistance, biological control, pesticides and insect resistance management on crucifer crops and integrated pest management. As with previous workshops / conference, a comprehensive publication of the proceedings will be published.

Scientific Sessions

  1. Diamondback moth and other crucifer pests: The global challenge in a changing climate
  2. Biology, ecology and behavior of diamondback moth and other crucifer pests: What’s new?
  3. Insect plant interactions, host plant resistance and chemical ecology of crucifer pests and their natural enemies
  4. Insecticide resistance and management in crucifer pests: the on-going challenge 
  5. Biological and non-chemical methods of management of crucifer pests (including organic agriculture) 
  6. Genetic approaches to manage crucifer pests: transgenic plants, CRISPR, RNAi, and genetic pest management
  7. Constraints and opportunities to the sustained adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) for the management of DBM and other crucifer pests
Photo by Dr. Subramanian Sevgan

Photo by Dr. Subramanian Sevgan
Photo by Dr. Subramanian Sevgan

Photo by Dr. Subramanian Sevgan



  • 6 February – 31 March 2023



  • Scientists (Outside Cambodia USD 400)
  • Scientists (From Cambodia USD 200)
  • Students (USD 200)
  • Accompanying person (USD 200)


Scientific Committee


World Vegetable Center, Taiwan


World Vegetable Center, Taiwan

Dr. Li-Hsin Huang

Taiwan Agricultural Chemicals andToxic Substances Research Institute, Taiwan


Royal University of Agriculture, Cambodia


University of Queensland, Australia


University of Queensland, Australia


Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China


International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Kenya


University of Florida, USA


Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Spain



Flagship Program Leader for Safe and Sustainable Value Chains & Lead Entomologist

World Vegetable Center, Shanhua, Tainan 74151, Taiwan

Tel: +886-6-5837801

Fax: +886-6-5830009

E-mail: srini.ramasamy@worldveg.org 


Scientist (Entomology)

World Vegetable Center, Shanhua, Tainan 74151, Taiwan

Tel: +886-6-5837801

Fax: +886-6-5830009

E-mail: paola.sotelo@worldveg.org 


Photo by Dr. Christian Ulrichs

Cruciferous crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, mustard, radish, and several leafy greens are economically important vegetables vital for human health. These nutritious vegetables provide much-needed vitamins and minerals to the human diet—especially vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, folic acid, and dietary fiber. Crucifers also are capable of preventing different types of cancer.

The diamondback moth (DBM), Plutella xylostella, is the most serious crucifer pest worldwide. In addition, head caterpillar (Crocidolomia pavonana), web worm (Hellula undalis), butterflies (Pieris spp.), flea beetle (Phyllotreta spp.) and aphids (Brevicoryne brassicae, Lipaphis erysimi, Myzus persicae) also cause significant yield losses in crucifers. Farmers prefer to use chemical pesticides for controlling this pest because they have an immediate knock-down effect and are easily available when needed in local markets. Pesticides constitute a major share in the total production cost of crucifer crops, accounting for about one-third to half of the cost of production of major crucifer crops in Asia, for instance. As a result, pest resistance to insecticides is on the rise, leading farmers to spray even more pesticides. Insecticide resistance, environmental degradation, human health impacts, resource loss and economic concerns have triggered a growing interest in integrated pest management (IPM).

Previous International Workshop / Conference(s) on Management of the Diamondback Moth and other Crucifer Insect Pests

Photo by Dr. Srinivasan Ramasamy

The International Working Group on DBM and other Crucifer Insects is an informal group of researchers worldwide who are actively engaged in research and development in crucifer pest management.

This research group participates in an international workshop on the management of DBM and other crucifer insect pests that occurs every five to six years.

The first and second workshops were organized by Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC) in Taiwan in 1985 and 1990.

The third workshop was organized by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute in Kuala Lumpur in 1996.

The fourth workshop was organized in Australia in 2001 and the fifth workshop was organized by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing in 2006.

The sixth workshop was organized by AVRDC – the World Vegetable Center in Thailand in 2011 and the seventh workshop was organized by the University Agricultural Sciences Bangalore in 2015.

The eighth International Conference on Management of the Diamondback Moth and other Crucifer Insect Pests was organized by the World Vegetable Center in Taiwan in 2019.

Additional details and proceedings of these workshops / conference can be found at https://avrdc.org/diamondback-moth-working-group/



World Vegetable Center
P.O. Box 42
Shanhua, Tainan, Taiwan 74151

Phone: +886-6-583-7801

Email: info@worldveg.org

Web: avrdc.org


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The Association of International Research and Development Centers for Agriculture, a nine-member alliance focused on increasing global food security by supporting healthy, sustainable, climate-smart smallholder agriculture.

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Friday, 03 March 2023 06:47:24


Grahame Jackson posted a new submission ‘A soil fungus confers plant resistance against a phytophagous insect by disrupting the symbiotic role of its gut microbiota’


A soil fungus confers plant resistance against a phytophagous insect by disrupting the symbiotic role of its gut microbiota


Ilaria Di Lelio https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8933-0919Giobbe ForniGiulia Magoga https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0662-5840, +16, and Francesco Pennacchio https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8794-9328 f.pennacchio@unina.itAuthors Info & Affiliations

Edited by David Denlinger, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; received October 7, 2022; accepted December 16, 2022

February 27, 2023

120 (10) e2216922120



Plant multitrophic interactions are extremely complex, and the underlying mechanisms are not easy to unravel. Using tomato plants as a model system, we demonstrated that a soil fungus, Trichoderma afroharzianum, widely used as a biocontrol agent of plant pathogens, negatively affects the development and survival of the lepidopteran pest Spodoptera littoralis by altering the gut microbiota and its symbiotic contribution to larval nutrition. Our results indicate that insect-plant interactions can be correctly interpreted only at the metaorganism level, focusing on the broad network of interacting holobionts which spans across the soil and the above-ground biosphere. Here, we provide a new functional framework for studying these intricate trophic networks and their ecological relevance.


Plants generate energy flows through natural food webs, driven by competition for resources among organisms, which are part of a complex network of multitrophic interactions. Here, we demonstrate that the interaction between tomato plants and a phytophagous insect is driven by a hidden interplay between their respective microbiotas. Tomato plants colonized by the soil fungus Trichoderma afroharzianum, a beneficial microorganism widely used in agriculture as a biocontrol agent, negatively affects the development and survival of the lepidopteran pest Spodoptera littoralis by altering the larval gut microbiota and its nutritional support to the host. Indeed, experiments aimed to restore the functional microbial community in the gut allow a complete rescue. Our results shed light on a novel role played by a soil microorganism in the modulation of plant–insect interaction, setting the stage for a more comprehensive analysis of the impact that biocontrol agents may have on ecological sustainability of agricultural systems.

Read on: https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2216922120

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Arms race between ants and fungi has echoes of The Last of Us

Insects are fighting off fungal invaders, but the fungi have some tricks up their sleeve

Two ants against a white background, one of them is covered with spores from a fungal infection
Fungi of the Metarhizium genus infect ants to produce spores and spread.MATTHIAS KONRAD/ISTA


There’s an arms race going on between a disease-causing fungus and its host, and it’s not the one portrayed in HBO’s postapocalyptic series The Last of Us. Researchers have found that, with a bit of grooming, ants can help their comrades fight off multiple fungal invaders—but that these fungi have also found a way to fight back. Such battles could influence the evolution of pathogens found in a wide range of species, including humans.

“The study is capturing evolution in action,” says Trine Bilde, an evolutionary biologist at Aarhus University who was not involved with the work. “That’s so cool.”

Ants, like people, are social. They live in giant colonies, with each individual invested in the others’ survival. Worker ants don’t just sacrifice themselves for the queen, they groom each other for parasites, similar to how chimpanzees pick fleas and ticks off their companions.


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To see whether such comradeship helps the insects fight off fungi, researchers at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria turned to Argentine ants (Linepithema humile), a small, brown species native to South America. In the wild, these ants live with thousands of other pathogens and are often infected with multiple fungi at once.

The scientists infected the insects with six different types of related fungal pathogens in the lab. Then they watched as the different fungi evolved as they infected ants over multiple generations.

When the insects were alone, one of the six fungus strains usually won out. The winning strain burrowed into the ant, infecting it and killing it to continue reproducing its spores, whereas the other fungus strains died off. But with friends around, the balance of power shifted. As the insects groomed each other, the six types of fungi duked it out among themselves, with no clear winner taking over, the team reports this month in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The fungi also appeared to be evolving to become less lethal. But they hadn’t completely given up the fight. Further experiments revealed the pathogens were releasing less of a molecule called ergosterol, which made them visible to the ants. The less ergosterol the fungi produced, the less the insects groomed each other.

That could allow the fungi to hide out from the grooming ants while they evolve new ways to fight back—a strategy not previously seen, says Yoko Ulrich, an evolutionary biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology who was not involved with the study. Humans don’t groom each other like ants do, she notes, but we do engage in other behaviors to fight off disease, such as using hand sanitizer.

What impact might that have on the evolution of the microbial invaders that threaten us? Stay tuned for future science—or perhaps the next HBO series.

doi: 10.1126/science.adh1159




Claudia Lopez Lloreda


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DECEMBER 20, 2022

Researchers analyze performance of bacterium in combating coffee rust

by Ricardo Muniz, FAPESP

Researchers analyze performance of bacterium in combating coffee rust
The research is part basic science, investigating the bacterium’s resilience in a hostile environment—coffee leaves—and part biotech, seeing whether the bacterium inhibits the development of a pathogen. Credit: Jorge Mondego/IAC

A new study has analyzed the potential of a bacterium for biological control of the fungus Hemileia vastatrix, which causes coffee rust, a major challenge for Brazilian coffee growers. An article on the study is published in the journal BMC Microbiology.

The symptoms of coffee rust are yellow spots like burn marks on the leaves of the plant. The disease impairs photosynthesis, making foliage wither and preventing bean-producing cherries from growing until the tree resembles a skeleton. It is typically controlled by the use of copper-based pesticides, which can have adverse effects on the environment.

“This was a basic science study, in which we set out to understand the behavior of bacteria that inhabit the leaves of coffee trees. First of all, there are several compounds that are harmful to bacteria and can be used to attack them,” said Jorge Maurício Costa Mondego, last author of the article.

“Second, leaves are environments that undergo significant environmental pressures, such as sunlight and rain. We wanted to understand how bacteria that live on coffee leaves can withstand both the compounds produced by the coffee plant and the stresses of rain and sun,” he said.

Besides this basic science front, the study also addressed applied science challenges. The researchers decided to find out whether bacteria that inhabit coffee leaves can combat the fungus that causes coffee rust. The first step consisted of identifying the expressed sequence tags (ESTs) of Coffea arabica and C. canephora produced by the Brazilian Coffee Genome Project (Projeto Genoma EST-Café).

“I was the first author, alongside Ramon Vidal, a professor at UNICAMP, of an article in which we compiled the sequences expressed by C. arabica. It was published in 2011. We weren’t yet thinking in terms of metagenomics, but that’s what we did, more or less accidentally,” Mondego said.

Accidental metagenomics

The researchers found sequences they considered contaminating in the midst of the coffee leaf ESTs. “We took these sequences, fed them into the database, and concluded that they appeared to be from Pseudomonas spp, a genus of bacteria.,” Mondego said. “This stimulated the curiosity of our research group, which was led by Gonçalo Pereira, also a professor at UNICAMP. We asked ourselves, ‘What if we’ve done metagenomics without meaning to? Do these bacteria really live on coffee leaves?'”

At the time, Mondego was already a researcher at IAC. A few years later, he was able to join forces with Leandro Pio de Sousa, first author of the article published in BMC Microbiology. Sousa was a student who had a scientific initiation scholarship and now holds a Ph.D. in genetics and molecular biology from UNICAMP.

“I invited Leandro to work with me on this study, which was designed to see if Pseudomonas really does live on coffee leaves. If so, the previous findings would be confirmed. He agreed immediately,” Mondego said.

They isolated bacteria from the coffee leaves and put them in a culture medium. Under ultraviolet light, it is possible to characterize Pseudomonas, which looks purple and can easily be selected in the medium. “We collected the bacteria, extracted their DNA and sequenced one, which we called MN1F,” he said.

They made several interesting discoveries about MN1F, which has a secretion system that reflects its need to survive in a hostile environment full of fungi and other bacteria. “The secretion system produces antibacterial and antifungal compounds. That suggested it could be used for biological control,” Mondego said. They also detected a number of proteins associated with protection against water stress.

The next step entailed physiological experiments, whereby bacteria were cultured in different media to confirm the researchers’ observations regarding the genome. “The biological experiments proved several inferences correct. We showed that the bacterium does indeed have a considerable capacity to withstand strong osmotic pressure, which can be considered analogous to the effects of drought on coffee leaves,” Mondego explained. “Furthermore, MN1F is capable of degrading phenolic compounds that can be harmful to it. It breaks down these compounds from the plant and converts them into material for its own survival.”

The researchers then conducted a battery of tests to find out if MN1F could be used for biological control, preventing or inhibiting the development of H. vastatrix, the fungus that causes coffee rust. The tests took place under greenhouse and laboratory conditions, including an attempt to inhibit in vitro germination of the fungus. In all of the experiments, the bacterium proved capable of inhibiting the development of spores (reproductive units) and mycelium (the filamentous network containing the fungus’s genetic material).

More information: Leandro Pio de Sousa et al, Functional genomics analysis of a phyllospheric Pseudomonas spp with potential for biological control against coffee rust, BMC Microbiology (2022). DOI: 10.1186/s12866-022-02637-4

Journal information: BMC Microbiology 

Provided by FAPESP 

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Fungus that eats fungus could help coffee farmers

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Climate change means farmers in West Africa need more ways to combat pests

by Loko Yêyinou Laura Estelle, The Conversation

worm on corn
Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

The link between climate change and the spread of crop pests has been established by research and evidence.

Farmers are noticing the link themselves, alongside higher temperatures and greater variability in rainfall. All these changes are having an impact on harvests across Africa.

Changing conditions sometimes allow insects and diseases to spread and thrive in new places. The threat is greatest when there are no natural predators to keep pests in check, and when human control strategies are limited to the use of unsuitable synthetic insecticides.

Invasive pests can take hold in a new environment and cause very costly damage before national authorities and researchers are able to devise and fund ways to protect crops, harvests and livelihoods.

Early research into biological control methods (use of other organisms to control pests) shows promise for safeguarding harvests and food security. Rapid climate change, however, means researchers are racing against time to develop the full range of tools needed for a growing threat.

The most notable of recent invasive pests to arrive in Africa was the fall armyworm, which spread to the continent from the Americas in 2016.

Since then, 78 countries have reported the caterpillar, which attacks a range of crops including staples like maize and has caused an estimated US$9.4 billion in losses a year.

African farmers are still struggling to contain the larger grain borer, or Prostephanus truncatus Horn, which reached the continent in the 1970s. It can destroy up to 40% of stored maize in just four months. In Benin, it is a particular threat to cassava chips, and can cause losses of up to 50% in three months.

It’s expected that the larger grain borer will continue to spread as climatic conditions become more favorable. African countries urgently need more support and research into different control strategies, including the use of natural enemies, varietal resistance and biopesticides.

My research work is at the interface between plants, insects and genetics. It’s intended to contribute to more productive agriculture that respects the environment and human health by controlling insect pests with innovative biological methods.

For example, we have demonstrated that a species of insect called Alloeocranum biannulipes Montr. and Sign. eats some crop pests. Certain kinds of fungi (Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana), too, can kill these pests. They are potential biological control agents of the larger grain borer and other pests.

Improved pest control is especially important for women farmers, who make up a significant share of the agricultural workforce.

In Benin, for example, around 70% of production is carried out by women, yet high rates of illiteracy mean many are unable to read the labels of synthetic pesticides.

This can result in misuse or overuse of chemical crop protection products, which poses a risk to the health of the farmers applying the product and a risk of environmental pollution.

Moreover, the unsuitable and intensive use of synthetic insecticides could lead to the development of insecticide resistance and a proliferation of resistant insects.

Biological alternatives to the rescue

Various studies have shown that the use of the following biological alternatives would not only benefit food security but would also help farmers who have limited formal education:

  1. Natural predators like other insects can be effective in controlling pests. For example I found that the predator Alloeocranum biannulipes Montr. and Sign. is an effective biological control agent against a beetle called Dinoderus porcellus Lesne in stored yam chips and the larger grain borer in stored cassava chips. Under farm storage conditions, the release of this predator in infested yam chips significantly reduced the numbers of pests and the weight loss. In Benin, yams are a staple food and important cash crop. The tubers are dried into chips to prevent them from rotting.
  2. Strains of fungi such as Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana also showed their effectiveness as biological control agents against some pests. For example, isolate Bb115 of B. bassiana significantly reduced D. porcellus populations and weight loss of yam chips. The fungus also had an effect on the survival of an insect species, Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner), known as the cotton bollworm. It did this by invading the tissues of crop plants that the insect larva eats. The larvae then ate less of those plants.
  3. The use of botanical extracts and powdered plant parts is another biological alternative to the use of harmful synthetic pesticides. For example, I found that botanical extracts of plants grown in Benin, Bridelia ferruginea, Blighia sapida and Khaya senegalensis, have insecticidal, repellent and antifeedant activities against D. porcellus and can also be used in powder form to protect yam chips.
  4. My research also found that essential oils of certain leaves can be used as a natural way to stop D. porcellus feeding on yam chips.
  5. I’ve done research on varietal (genetic) resistance too and found five varieties of yam (Gaboubaba, Boniwouré, Alahina, Yakanougo and Wonmangou) were resistant to the D. porcellus beetle.

Next generation tools

To develop efficient integrated pest management strategies, researchers need support and funding. They need to test these potential biocontrol methods and their combinations with other eco-friendly methods in farm conditions.

Investing in further research would help to bolster the African Union’s 2021–2030 Strategy for Managing Invasive Species, and protect farmers, countries and economies from more devastating losses as climate change brings new threats.

Initiatives like the One Planet Fellowship, coordinated by African Women in Agricultural Research and Development, have helped further the research and leadership of early-career scientists in this area, where climate and gender overlap.

But much more is needed to unlock the full expertise of women and men across the continent to equip farmers with next generation tools for next generation threats.

Provided by The Conversation 

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Why African farmers should balance pesticides with other control methods

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Potential use of entomopathogenic and mycoparasitic fungi against powdery mildew in aquaponics

Aquaponics has the potential to produce sustainable and accessible quality food through the integration of hydroponics and aquaculture. Plants take up dissolved nutrients in fish wastewater, allowing water reuse for fish. However, the simultaneous presence of fish and plants in the same water loop has made phytosanitary treatments of diseases such as powdery mildew problematic due to risks of toxicity for fish and beneficial bacteria, limiting its commercialization.

Entomopathogenic and mycoparasitic fungi have been identified as safe biological control agents for a broad range of pests. This study aimed to investigate the efficacy of entomopathogenic fungi, Lecanicillium attenuatum (LLA), Isaria fumosorosea (IFR), and mycoparasitic fungus Trichoderma virens (TVI) against Podosphaera xanthii. Also, we investigated the possible harmful effects of the three fungal biocontrol agents in aquaponics by inoculating them in aquaponics water and monitoring their survival and growth. The findings showed that the three biocontrol agents significantly suppressed the powdery mildew at 107 CFU/ml concentration.

Under greenhouse conditions (65-73% relative humidity (RH)), a significant disease reduction percentage of 85% was recorded in L. attenuatum-pretreated leaves. IFR-treated leaves had the least AUDPC (area under disease progress curve) of ~434.2 and disease severity of 32% under 65-73% RH. In addition, L. attenuatum spores were the most persistent on the leaves; the spores population increased to 9.54 × 103 CFUmm-2 from the initial 7.3 CFUmm-2 under 65-73%. In contrast, in hydroponics water, the LLA, IFR, and TVI spores significantly reduced by more than 99% after 96 hrs. Initial spore concentrations of LLA of 107 CFU/ml spores were reduced to 4 x 103 CFU after 96 hrs. Though the results from this study were intended for aquaponics systems, the relevance of the results to other cultivation systems are discussed.

Read the complete research at www.researchgate.net.

Folorunso, Ewumi Azeez & Bohata, Andrea & Kavkova, Miloslava & Gebauer, Radek & Mraz, Jan. (2022). Potential use of entomopathogenic and mycoparasitic fungi against powdery mildew in aquaponics. Frontiers in Marine Science. 9. 10.3389/fmars.2022.992715. 

Publication date: Wed 9 Nov 2022

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Home | Arts + Culture | Wild Things

Bold jumping spiders will attack larger prey, leaping four times the length of their body

By Jeanine Farley

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Bold jumping spiders are very hairy, with four pairs of eyes. (Photo: Claire O’Neill/Earthwise Aware)

What’s small and hairy and jumps? Perhaps a bold jumping spider, which is one of the most common jumping spiders in North America. These spiders are not dangerous. If you pick one up, for example, it probably will not bite you (but I make no guarantees). If it did bite you, its fangs would probably not penetrate your skin, and if they did pierce the skin, the venom is too weak to cause harm to humans.

The legs of adult bold jumping spiders sport bands of silver hairs, while juveniles have orange or yellow bands. (Photo: Joe MacIndewar/Earthwise Aware)

These spiders (Phidippus audax) are so named because they are fearless and quick to jump on and attack prey that is larger than they are. “Audax” is from the word audacity, meaning “bold” or “daring.” They prey on many insect pests, including mosquitoes. These little critters (one-quarter to three-quarters of an inch) are also able to jump four times their body length.

Probably the most prominent feature of jumping spiders is that they are hairy. Bold jumping spiders are mostly black with a white or reddish triangle and two small dots on their abdomens. Their fangs or mouthparts(chelicerae) are metallic green – a feature sometimes more noticeable on males.

Bold jumping spiders display metallic green fangs or mouthparts that are more pronounced in males. (Photo: Claire O’Neill/Earthwise Aware)

Bold jumping spiders hunt during the day. They sneak up on their prey and pounce, injecting venom that paralyzes their prey. We all know that spiders have eight legs; most spiders, including bold jumping spiders, also have eight eyes. This gives them the sharp vision they need to stalk their prey. In fact, jumping spiders – with eyes in a semicircle around the head, each pair of a different size, with the two in the middle being the largest – have the sharpest vision of all spiders. These two largest eyes give the spider good three-dimensional vision, while the other six eyes provide it with 360-degree views of the surroundings.

Bold jumping spiders are the state spider of New Hampshire, but this spider hunts on Prospect Hill in Somerville. (Photo: Claire O’Neill/Earthwise Aware)

Jumping spiders do not spin webs, but before they jump they attach a strand of silk to the surface they are on. If they jump and miss, they are still tethered to the tree or wall from which they jumped. They also use silk to make a cocoonlike resting place (in dried leaves, under rocks, in tree crevices) where they, eat their prey and protect their eggs.

Birds and dragonflies and small mammals prey on bold jumping spiders. If you have ever seen a bird digging an insect out from a tree fissure, you might have witnessed the demise of a bold jumping spider.

Juvenile bold jumping spiders have an orange-tinted triangle and two small dots on their abdomens. These spots become whiter in adults. (Photo: Joe MacIndewar/Earthwise Aware)

Similar to snakes, spiders shed their outer skin as they grow larger. Bold jumping spiders stop the process in the fall as adolescents and overwinter as sub-adults. In the spring, they finish growing to adulthood. They breed from spring to early summer; the female bold jumping spider produces an egg sac containing 30 to 170 eggs. (With six to eight egg sacs per season, that’s a lot of baby spiders.) She guards the egg sac until the baby spiders hatch; then the babies are on their own.

The spiders prefer flat vertical surfaces where they can see and easily pounce on their prey. Therefore, these spiders like broad-leaved plants such as milkweed, for example, or tree trunks, fenceposts and house siding. If you should happen to see a bold jumping spider inside your cellar or on your lawn furniture, let it be; it is shy and harmless, will most likely run or jump away if it detects you, and can help control insect pests.

Bold jumping spiders like this one in the Cambridge Highlands can detect vibrations from a great distance and jump four times its body length. (Photo: Claire O’Neill/Earthwise Aware)


A bald eagle is spotted in Ball Square, Somerville, in mid-October. Its unusual left eye identifies it as KZ, the male of the nesting pair on the Mystic Lakes. (Photo: Jeanine Farley)


Have you taken photos of our urban wild things? Send your images to Cambridge Day, and we may use them as part of a future feature. Include the photographer’s name and the general location where the photo was taken.

Jeanine Farley is an educational writer who has lived in the Boston area for more than 30 years. She enjoys taking photos of our urban wild things.


November 11, 2022


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‘Wonder weevils’ released in Yorkshire waterways in fight against invasive floating pennywort

Biopesticides and Biocontrols 

‘Wonder weevils’ released in Yorkshire waterways in fight against invasive floating pennywort

   Delhi Bureau  0 Comments CABI  3 min read

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16 November 2022, America: Specialist weevils from South America have been introduced to two sites in West Yorkshire to control an invasive non-native plant choking waterways.

The floating pennywort weevils have been introduced on the Aire and Calder Navigation and one of the tributaries of the River Holme, in a collaboration by CABI, Yorkshire Water, Leeds City Council, River Holme Connections and a private landowner.

As reported by PA Media and syndicated to over 114 UK news outlets including the London Evening Standard, Belfast Telegraph, Glasgow Times and Oxford Mail, the bugs, which have evolved to only feed and develop on floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides), will target the plant where it is clogging up the waterways.

Floating pennywort is native to Central and South America, and was brought to the UK in the 1980s as an ornamental pond plant, but escaped into natural habitats where it can grow up to 20cm a day.

Back in May, CABI revealed how its research has been the forefront of a world-first after the weevil – a more than 10 years under study – started to be released in England to sustainably fight the floating pennywort.

The release was timed to coincide with Invasive Species Week 2022. Invasive Species Week is an annual national event to raise awareness of the impacts of invasive non-native species, the simple things that everyone can do to prevent their spread, and some of the fantastic work taking place across the UK, Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man to protect the environment and reduce their impacts.

Since 2011, CABI, with Defra funding, has been investigating the potential use of a biocontrol agent for floating pennywort which has the ability to grow up to 20 centimetres each day. It forms dense rafts over rivers and harms native plant, fish and invertebrate species, through competition and cutting oxygen levels in water.

Floating pennywort – an ornamental pond plant originating from North America – also impedes navigation routes, disrupts recreational activities like fishing and canoeing and exacerbates flood risk.

Dr Steph Bradbeer, invasive species and biosecurity adviser at Yorkshire Water, said: “Invasive non-native species pose a very real risk to Yorkshire’s environment and wildlife.

“They can also impact on our ability to treat and distribute water to homes and return wastewater safely to the environment.

“Floating pennywort, if unchecked, can cause significant problems in slow-flowing watercourses and impact drainage systems.

“We hope the release of these specialist weevils will provide a way of tackling it without the need for mechanical or chemical intervention.”

Djami Djeddour, senior project scientist at CABI, said: “These weevil releases are the culmination of over a decade of collaboration with South American scientists and comprehensive safety and efficacy testing in our quarantine facilities, so it is thrilling to finally get them out into the wild.”

The weevils will be closely monitored, with their impact on the spread of floating pennywort carefully monitored.

It is hoped they will help improve local wildlife and water quality, reduce the plant’s impact on flood defences and control the spread of floating pennywort in rivers.

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Posted on Nov 16, 2022 in Latest Department NewsNewsroom

(HONOLULU) – A new animated video highlights the success story of how biocontrol, a process where a carefully selected living organism is used to control an invasive species, helped to save the native Wiliwili tree. The video, produced by the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) in collaboration with the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, also shows how biocontrol can continue to be an important tool in managing invasive species in Hawaiʻi.

In 2005, a new pest, the erythrina gall wasp, made its way to Hawaiʻi and rapidly spread across the state, killing or severely damaging nearly all wild Wiliwili populations. “The sudden arrival of the erythrina gall wasp caught us all by surprise,” says Chipper Wichman, President of the National Tropical Botanical Garden. “Wiliwili is a keystone species in our dry forests, and nearly every part of this special tree is used by cultural practitioners. The impact of losing this species would have been profound.”

However in 2008, after extensive exploration in Africa for predators of the gall wasp and testing to make sure those predators didn’t impact other species, scientists were able to safely release a biocontrol agent: an even smaller parasitic wasp that preys on the gall wasp. The biocontrol agent successfully reduced the pest wasp numbers to levels that did not kill Wiliwili trees, saving them from the edge of extinction.

“Invasive species cost the state millions by reducing watershed benefits, degrading agricultural lands, threatening human infrastructure, and are one of the main drivers of the loss of biodiversity and native ecosystems in our state,” DOFAW Protection Forester Rob Hauff said. “Biocontrol has proven to be a safe, cost-effective, and essential tool. The success of the Wiliwili gall wasp biocontrol is one example of what we can expect if we continue to support this type of work.”

Prior to releasing a biocontrol agent, researchers perform years of exploration and analysis to ensure it won’t impact any species other than the target invasive species. Proposed biocontrols are also subject to careful review by specialists and regulatory officials, as well as the public. Since the focus on safety was implemented in Hawaiʻi in the 1970s, the biocontrol program has had a stellar record, with no non-target damages from any biocontrol released in the last 50 years.

Given the ongoing impacts of many invasive species currently in Hawaiʻi, new, updated facilities are needed to expand the capacity for biocontrol research. A coalition of state and federal agencies, including DLNR, the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture (HDOA), the University of Hawaiʻi, and the United States Forest Service and Agricultural Research Service, are currently discussing options for new facilities that can serve Hawaiʻi and other Pacific island neighbors, who often deal with similar invasive species.

While discussions on new facilities are ongoing, there are still new biocontrol agents that may be ready for release in the near future. Two insects, including a caterpillar targeting the weed miconia (Miconia calvescens), and a beetle targeting the weed cane tibouchina (Tibouchina herbacea), may be ready for release in Hawaiʻi within the year.

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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)

Animated Video – Wiliwili Trees in Hawaiʻi: A Biocontrol Success Story: https://vimeo.com/764310295/75668bbed2

Photographs – Wiliwili Trees: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/26iq4inb956i1zc/AACHgND3m0E2RBeeUS0YsNRJa?dl=0

Biocontrol Hawaiʻi webpage: www.biocontrolhawaii.org

Media Contact:

Madison Rice

Communications Specialist

Hawai’i Dept. of Land and Natural Resources



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Weevil may save Great Britain up to £16.8m a year in management of invasive aquatic fern


Weevil may save Great Britain up to £16.8m a year in management of invasive aquatic fern
The invasive aquatic fern Azolla filiculoides. Credit: CABI

A new CABI-led study suggests that a tiny weevil (Stenopelmus rufinasus) has huge benefits in saving Great Britain up to £16.8m in annual management costs of the invasive aquatic fern Azolla filiculoides.

The research, published in the journal CABI Agriculture and Bioscience, estimates that without any biocontrol the expected yearly costs of managing A. filiculoides would range from £8.4m to £16.9m.

The scientists say that the impacts of naturalized S. rufinasus populations on A. filiculoides alone could be expected to reduce management costs to £800,000 to £1.6m a year.

However, they estimate A. filiculoides management costs to be lower still due to additional augmentative releases of the weevil that take place each summer, resulting in annual management costs of £31,500 to £45,800.

Azolla filiculoides, a type of floating water fern, was introduced to Great Britain at the end of the 19th century for ornamental use in ponds and aquaria. But its introduction into the wild has meant it has spread rapidly throughout England and Wales and to a lesser degree, Scotland.

The invasive aquatic fern outcompetes native species by forming a dense covering on the surface of the water. It blocks out light and can also deoxygenate water. A. filiculoides can also block canals, drains and overflows and may lead to an increased risk of flooding. It can affect irrigation systems—both by blocking their water supply and by reducing water quality.

It has been banned from sale in England and Wales since April 2014.

Its specialist natural enemy, S. rufinasus, was first recorded in 1921. It is suspected to have been introduced from America as a stowaway on A. filiculoides. Stenopelmus rufinasus is also reported to be present in numerous additional European countries where A. filiculoides is present.

The study sought to estimate the management cost savings resulting from the presence of S. rufinasus as a biocontrol agent in Great Britain. This includes the value of additional augmentative releases of the weevil made since the mid-2000s, compared with the expected costs of control in the absence of S. rufinasus.

Corin Pratt, lead author and Invasive Species Management Researcher at CABI, said, “The unintentional introduction of the weevil S. rufinasus to Great Britain is estimated to have resulted in millions of pounds of savings annually in management costs for A. filiculoides.

“Additional augmentative releases of the weevil provide further net cost savings, tackling A. filiculoides outbreaks and bolstering naturalized populations.

“The use of herbicides in the aquatic environment is likely greatly reduced due to A. filiculoides biocontrol. Although somewhat climate-limited at present in Great Britain, climate change may result in even more effective biocontrol of A. filiculoides by S. rufinasus.

“This has been observed in warmer regions such as South Africa, where the plant is no longer considered a threat since the introduction of S. rufinasus.”

The scientists conclude by arguing that in the absence of the specialist weevil S. rufinasus, A. filiculoides could be expected to be the dominant aquatic macrophyte in Great Britain. This would require extensive, costly management and likely widespread use of herbicides in the aquatic environment.

They state that the estimated benefit to cost ratio of augmentative S. rufinasus releases to be of 43.7:1 to 88.4:1.

More information: Corin F. Pratt et al, A century of Azolla filiculoides biocontrol: the economic value of Stenopelmus rufinasus to Great Britain, CABI Agriculture and Bioscience (2022). DOI: 10.1186/s43170-022-00136-0

Provided by CABI

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Grahame Jackson posted a new submission ‘Risk analysis and weed biological control.’


Risk analysis and weed biological control.

Authors: W. M. LonsdaleD. T. BrieseJ. M. CullenAUTHORS INFO & AFFILIATIONS

Publication: Evaluating indirect ecological effects of biological control. Key papers from the symposium ‘Indirect ecological effects in biological control’, Montpellier, France, 17-20 October 1999



Weed biological control and risk analysis are very powerful tools for land management and decision-making respectively. We explore the application of risk analysis to weed biological control. Recent criticisms of weed biological control have mainly centred on non-target impacts, attacks by the biological control agent on species other than the weed. In ecology, these are direct effects because they involve physical interactions between the species concerned. Indirect effects are those in which the species do not physically interact. In biological control terms, indirect effects include, on the positive side, the increase in pasture production or biodiversity resulting from successful biological control. On the negative side, they include the decline of a native species that had used the weed as habitat. The aim of weed biological control is then to maximize the ratio of desirable indirect effects to undesirable direct and indirect effects. Using a risk analysis approach, we show that the problems of weed biological control are less in the domain of science and more in that of communication and consultation. A well-conceived biological control project would aim for wide consultation to agree on the target weed with the community, so that negative effects are viewed as trivial against the positive ones. It would also use highly specific agents to reduce the risk of undesirable direct effects to a minimum. Lastly, biocontrollers themselves would merely be advisers on the decision to release.

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