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Archive for the ‘Biological control’ Category

Ghana News Agency

http://www.ghananewsagency.org/science/ghana-to-focus-on-bio-rational-products-for-management-of-faw-131321

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Ghana to focus on bio-rational products for management of FAW

By Belinda Ayamgha, GNA

Accra, April 13, GNA – The Ministry of Food and Agriculture says it has shifted its focus from synthetic insecticides to bio-rational products, for the management of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestation, as part of its short, medium and long-term management measures.

The focus on bio-rational products is to ensure minimum pest resistance by the FAW, which is higher with the use of synthetic insecticides.

Dr Mrs Felicia Ansah, Director of Plant Protection and Regulatory Services at MoFA, said this when she briefed Journalists on the current situation of the FAW problem.

She noted that the FAW had come to stay, as it could not be completely eradicated but managed, as in the case of Brazil, which had been managing the FAW infestation for the past 40 years, and was currently one of the biggest exporters of maize.

Ghana had thus modelled its management measures after the Brazilian experience.

These measures, she said, include the deployment of pheromone trap catches in various locations across the country to ascertain the levels of infestation, training of MoFA staff and farmers on scouting, early detection and sustainable management of the pest in the event of an outbreak.

She explained that the best way to manage the infestation on farms was to detect the pests early at the larvae stage, and not when they became full grown moths. That is when they did the most damage to crops.

Other measures being undertaken by the Ministry are the distribution of pesticides to all district offices in the country where farmers can access in FAW infestations, the formation and training of Nnoboa Spraying Teams in farming communities and intensification of public awareness creation for farmers and the general public.

According to Dr Ansah, Ghana had commenced scouting of natural enemies of the FAW, which once identified, will be reared to help reduce the population of the pests.

“In the long term, only biological control agents, microbial insecticides and botanicals/organic products will be used to manage FAW in Ghana,” she said.

She said a total of 249,054 hectares of maize were affected and sprayed, out of which 234,807 hectares recovered and 14, 247 totally destroyed in the previous season, adding that there was a likelihood for more infestations in the 2018 farming season.

Dr Ansah stressed the need for the media to be circumspect in how they reported issues around the FAW infestation as it had implications for trade.

She urged the media to collaborate with the Ministry to educate farmers on how to manage the FAW.

She said the pockets of FAW infestations being currently experienced in some districts in the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Eastern, Volta and Western Regions had been blown out of proportion as it was a pre-season production infestation.

“We would like you to appreciate that this is a Phytosanitary or Public Plant Health Issue, with trade implications and must be communicated in a professional manner. Media coverage should rather be geared towards improving the knowledge and skills of our farmers,” she said.

GNA

 

 

 

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Daily News Blog

Predatory Birds Can Successfully Replace Pesticide Use in Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2018) Simple approaches that increase populations of vertebrate predators, like bats and falcons on farms, can reduce pesticide use, increase on-farm productivity, and conserve wildlife, according to a literature review published by researchers at Michigan State University in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment.  The review encompasses 48 studies published over the last 150 years on the effect of human interventions to enhance natural ecosystem services. Results point not only to new methods to improve on-farm pest management, but also potential ways to engage farmers and citizen scientists in implementing these win-win strategies.

Researchers looked at a number of methods tested in the scientific literature that would increase on-farm populations of vertebrate pest predators. Broadly, discrete approaches such as installing structures like nest boxes, perches, and artificial roosts were investigated alongside more wide-ranging systems aimed at altering habitat and increasing landscape complexity. The latter includes methods such as installing field borders, increasing tree cover, reintroducing native species, and eliminating invasives.

The more discrete approaches provided a simpler, more accessible, and less expensive method of pest management when compared to approaches that require more wide-ranging landscape changes, though the benefits of those activities were not negligible. Nest boxes were found to successfully increase the abundance of predator species. Populations of western bluebirds increased by a factor of 10 when nest boxes were installed as part of a study on California vineyards, and vineyards without the nest boxes saw significantly higher pest levels when compared to those with bluebird boxes. In Europe, apple orchards that installed nest boxes for the native great tit bird saw 50% less pest damage than orchards that did not install the structures. Likewise, the installation of artificial bat roosts around Spanish rice fields led to significant declines in major moth pests over a 10 year period. When perches were installed around Australian soybean fields, raptors and other predatory birds caused a statistically significant decline in mouse populations.

The creation of field borders – strips of non-crop flowers and plants – did represent a successful method of improving populations of vertebrate pest predators. Studies reviewed found that bird abundance around these strips grew as the distance between cropland and forested areas increased, indicating potentially significant benefits of this practice for otherwise monotypic row crop farms.

In considering research on the addition of tree cover, studies have found mixed results. While some work indicates higher populations of various birds on farms of shade-grown coffee, other show species richness to be greater in sun-grown fields. That being said, studies generally indicate that increasing tree cover is likely to improve vertebrate pest control services.

Reintroducing native species can be a multifaceted, costly undertaking, and as a result of misperceptions about large carnivores, is more successful when the species is smaller, well-known, and non-threatening for people and farmers. A case study following the introduction of the New Zealand falcon into region known for its grape production found that the predators reduced fruit loss from pest bird species.

Both structural and landscape-level strategies can interact with one another. In one example, nest boxes installed to promote kestrel populations in Michigan were displaced by the widespread and invasive European starling. Although the solution to this problem is as simple as removing the nests, it indicates broader efforts may be necessary to maintain discrete approaches.

In sum, these methods provide a myriad of benefits. The economic value of vertebrate predators in reducing pests is significant. Bats alone contribute millions of dollars in pest-controlling ecosystem services – one study reviewed found that the loss of bats in Indonesian cacao fields would decrease yields by over 700 lb per hectare, a loss of $730 per year per hectare. The falcons reintroduced to New Zealand grape fields saved farmers there between $234 and $326 as a result of decreased pest bird consumption of fruit. In addition to monetary benefits, structures like nest boxes help conserve species by enhancing local populations, as occurred with the reintroduction of kestrels in Michigan.

Critically, these strategies help replace the over $15.2 billion American farmers spent purchasing pesticides in 2016. However, as researchers indicate, the true cost of pesticide use, through the poisoning of humans and animals, the displacement of pest predators, and contamination of our environment may increase that number by over $10 billion.

This review provides sound evidence in favor of farmers implementing simple, environmentally sustainable pest management methods. Researchers note the need to further investigate ways to engage farmers and citizens to participate in these activities, potentially through social networks, games such as the Ebird mobile app, and other tools. “Now that we’ve bundled these studies, we really need to set a research agenda to quantify best practices and make the results accessible to key stakeholders, such as farmers and environmentalists,” said lead author of the study Catherine Lindell, PhD to the National Science Foundation.

For more information on the benefits of not only vertebrate predators, but a wide range of wildlife species in reducing pesticide use, see Beyond Pesticides’ Wildlife Program page.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: National Science Foundation, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment

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SE farm press

 

Auburn University
An Auburn University researcher surveys a soybean field. Auburn entomologists have discovered and identified a tiny wasp, Ooencyrtus nezarae, which kills the crop-destroying bugs.

Researchers discover another natural enemy of the kudzu bug

Though only about the size of a pinhead, the newly detected parasitoid wasp can do plenty of damage to the kudzu bug.

Paul L. Hollis | Mar 14, 2018

Auburn University entomologists have discovered and identified a tiny wasp that could provide a huge benefit to soybean producers and other farmers.

Though only about the size of a pinhead, the newly detected parasitoid wasp, Ooencyrtus nezarae, can do plenty of damage to the kudzu bug, a quarter-inch-long invasive pest of soybeans and other legume crops in the Southeast. Researchers in the lab of entomologist Henry Fadamiro, associate dean for research for the College of Agriculture and associate director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, were the first to detect the wasp’s presence in North America.

 The research team published its findings in a recent article in the Journal of Insect Science. Blessing Ademokoya, an Auburn graduate researcher at the time of the study and now a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is lead author of the article. Fadamiro and Rammohan Balusu, research fellow in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, are co-authors,

as are Auburn research entomologist Charles Ray and Jason Mottern, entomologist at the USDA Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Ray and Mottern assisted in final identification of the wasp. O. nezarae is the second kudzu bug-attacking wasp to be identified in the U.S. The first, Paratelenomus saccharalis, was discovered in Georgia in 2013.”It is exciting to know that many natural enemies are in the field helping to keep kudzu bug populations under control,” Ademokoya said. “And, with this latest addition, we have a potential explanation for the decline observed in kudzu bug densities across several locations in the southeastern U.S.”

The kudzu bug, native to Asia, was first reported in the U.S. in 2009 in Georgia. Although it feeds on kudzu—an economically important invasive weed native to Asia and familiar to Southerners—it also devours soybeans and other legume crops, causing significant yield loss in highly infested fields.

A strong flyer and good hitchhiker, the pest rapidly expanded its numbers across many southern states, including Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Arizona, Maryland and Delaware. The population peaked in 2013.

The kudzu bug has emerged as the top yield-limiting pest of soybeans, which rank as the second most planted field crop in the United States with an estimated annual market value of approximately $39 billion.

In 2017, Alabama farmers harvested approximately 345,000 acres of soybeans with a production value of more than $150 million.

Potential long-term solution

O. nezarae, which was found during field surveys in Alabama, is reported to parasitize eggs from a variety of plant bug families in China.

“Until now, the distribution of O. nezarae has been limited to China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea and Brazil,” Fadamiro said. “This is the first report of the parasitoid in North America. The high rate of parasitism—82.8 to 100 percent—recorded in our study indicates that the parasitoid may serve as a potential long-term solution for managing kudzu bug.”

Despite O. nezarae’s high parasitism rate of kudzu bug, it has a short period of activity, and Fadamiro said continued research will be necessary to identify tactics for the use of the insect to biologically control the pest on farms.

“We need to conduct monitoring to know the distribution of the parasitoid in the United States and to determine its seasonal phenology in the field—when it is not active and when it is most active,” he said. “We also are interested in studying the nutritional ecology of this insect and strategies for its conservation in the field. We don’t want to spray toxic chemicals when it is most active.”

There are numerous ways to use natural enemies in production agriculture, Fadamiro said, including introducing them into areas where they are not already present and preserving them where they are naturally occurring. Farmers also can plant host flowering plants around a field so the nectar will attract and keep the beneficial insect in an area.

“If we conduct a survey and find the insects are only in central Alabama, then we can capture and relocate them to other areas of the state where the kudzu bug is a threat,” he said. “We want to make sure this finding is useful to the farmers who need it most.”

But there’s a risk in assuming that the known natural enemies of the kudzu bug will eliminate the threat, Fadamiro said.

“While the incidence of the kudzu bug has declined in recent years, there could be many factors involved, including weather conditions and other natural enemies, so we need to continue this work,” he said.

The research leading to the discovery of the parasitoid was supported by an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and by the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. It’s an example of Auburn’s commitment to development science-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs.

Auburn University

Auburn University entomologists have discovered and identified a tiny wasp that could provide a huge benefit to soybean producers and other farmers. Though only about the size of a pinhead, the newly detected parasitoid wasp, Ooencyrtus nezarae, can do plenty of damage to the kudzu bug, a quarter-inch-long invasive pest of soybeans and other legume crops in the Southeast.

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Move Over, Beetles: The New Champions of Diversity Are Parasitic Wasps

Parasitoid wasps that lay eggs in other creatures may represent more species than any other group of animals.

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This Perilampid wasp parasitizes other parasitic wasps. It is 3 millimeters long. 

Image credits: USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab via Flickr

Friday, March 9, 2018 – 17:00

Nala Rogers, Staff Writer

(Inside Science) — If there is a creator, what can nature reveal about his or her mind? In a possibly apocryphal story, the famed biologist J.B.S. Haldane is said to have answered that “he is inordinately fond of beetles.” But if we’re judging by species diversity, as Haldane probably was, the true celestial favorites may actually be wasps — parasitic wasps whose life cycles read like a horror story.

Beetles, which comprise the taxonomic order Coleoptera, have long been hailed as the most species-rich group in the animal kingdom. But this perception may reflect biases in what humans like to collect, according to a new study. Beetles are often large, brightly colored, and easy to handle and preserve, with bodies that don’t collapse when they dry out. Today’s beetle researchers have a wealth of data at their fingertips, amassed by centuries’ worth of naturalists.

“Darwin and many landed gentlemen back then had insect collections, and the beetles were usually the prize of their collection,” said Andrew Forbes, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City and first author of the study, which is posted on the preprint server bioRxiv and is not yet peer-reviewed.

In contrast, much less is known about certain groups within Hymenoptera, the order that contains ants, bees and wasps. The bulk of hymenopterans are thought to be “parasitoids” — wasps that lay their eggs in or on the bodies of other creatures, most often other bugs.


More insect stories from Inside Science:
Parasitic Wasps Unleashed On Insect Pest
How the Bees You Know are Killing the Bees You Don’t
Video: The Bee Dance 

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Science   

Watch this caterpillar fling its beetle attacker through the air

Soft, squishy caterpillars might seem like easy prey to a hungry predator, but one species doesn’t give up without a fight. Fully developed caterpillars of the hornworm moth (Langia zenzeroides) use a mix of squeaks, strikes, and vomit to defend themselves from predators, researchers report this month in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Hornworm moth larvae respond aggressively when pecked by vertebrate predators such as birds, but it wasn’t clear whether they reacted toward invertebrate predators in a similar fashion—and whether invertebrates, too, could have played a role in the evolution of caterpillar defenses. So, scientists tested how hornworm moth larvae fared in the presence of caterpillar-hunting insects. Adult ground beetles of the genus Calosoma fit the bill perfectly as they eat a variety of caterpillar species in the wild and take down prey bigger than themselves. But when the beetle approached a hornworm caterpillar, it got attacked and shoved away. And when the beetle tried to bite, the caterpillar launched additional defenses: It squeaked, which is known to startle predators, and threw up on its attacker, possibly as a chemical defense. Most dramatically, two caterpillars grabbed the beetle in their jaws and flung it through the air. One of these even managed to bite off part of the beetle’s right hindleg. All of these strategies paid off: None of the 25 beetles tested was successful in killing a single caterpillar, the team found.

 

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Science

Hannah Wood/Smithsonian

This strange looking ‘pelican spider’ has a birdlike jaw—and a taste for other spiders

Spiders don’t often resemble birds, but pelican spiders—which use beaklike mouthparts to spear other arachnids—are a notable exception. The group of rice-size animals were first discovered in a 50-million-year-old slab of amber and were thought to be extinct until live pelican spiders were spotted in Madagascar in 1881. Only 19 species were known to occur on the African island, but that number has doubled with the discovery of 18 new species, researchers report today in ZooKeys. Scientists made the breakthrough by looking at hundreds of pelican spiders under a microscope. Though they all had “beaks,” some sported longer mouthparts, and others had more spines—a good sign that they were members of different species. Pelican spiders use their elongated mouthparts—shown protruding from the right side of the pictured spider’s “head”—to snatch unsuspecting spiders and hold them at a distance while they inject venom and wait for them to die. It’s a nifty strategy, but one that could be in peril if Madagascar’s forests continue to disappear. The birdlike arachnids also prowl the forests of South Africa and Australia, but the newly discovered pelican spiders are found only in Madagascar.

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