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Archive for the ‘Emerging/invasive pests’ Category

Biopesticide helps beat fall armyworm crop pest, increasing farm yields by 63% in South Sudan

Summary

Fall armyworm is an invasive pest that has spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa since its discovery in 2017. Biopesticides like Fawligen are helping to control the pest and replace the need for chemical pesticides. The application of Fawligen has resulted in an average yield increase of 63% for farmers in South Sudan, equivalent to an increase in income of $609 per hectare.Third slideHealthy maize cobs at the end of the projectPreviousNext

The story

In recent years, the fall armyworm pest has devastated maize crops throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Chemical pesticides are currently the main way of controlling the infestations, but they can pose serious risks to the environment and human health.

Natural pesticides, also known as biopesticides, can be a highly effective alternative as they do not pose the same health risk to the environment or to spray operators, especially when used in conjunction with good crop management.

In 2019, CABI and partners tested a biopesticide called Fawligen in Kenya, which showed a maize yield advantage of 1,509 kg/ha over an untreated control field, and then designed the protocol to run a pilot demonstration of the product with 500 farmers in South Sudan. CABI provided local technical training and support to farmers as part of the first pilot study.

During the first phase of the project, farmers were clustered into groups of 50. Each cluster had a lead farmer trained to support the others and use their own farm as a demonstration or training site where they could teach a standard protocol and use of tools.

Crop yield data collected at the end of the growing season from three of the four sites – an area equal to around 132 hectares – showed that application of Fawligen resulted in an average yield increase of 63% for 500 smallholders when compared with untreated maize fields. This was equivalent to an increase in income of $609 per hectare.

A survey carried out at the end of the first pilot revealed that 95% of farmers were willing to pay for Fawligen if they could find it available at a nearby agro-dealer for a price comparable to a synthetic insecticide.

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Where there’s a weevil, there’s a way to end giant weed problem

Durie Rainer Fong -October 7, 2021 3:16 PM16Sharesfacebook sharing button 11

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Sabah’s Lake Tungog is covered with salvinia molesta. The giant weed can destroy freshwater fish species, submerged aquatic plants and deoxygenate the water. (Sabah Foresty Department pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is introducing a beetle species to its lakes and rivers in the hope of clearing them of the salvinia molesta, a type of an invasive aquatic plant.

Chief minister Hajiji Noor lauded the introduction of the Cyrtobagous salviniae weevils, by the state agriculture and fisheries ministry as an environmental-friendly effort to check the Salvinia molesta – or giant salvinia – infestations statewide.

Weevils are beetles that are often considered pests because of their ability to kill crops.

Speaking during the launching of a programme to introduce the bugs to all Sabah districts today, Hajiji said the giant salvinia weeds have infested at least 200 bodies of water such as rivers, waterways, fish ponds and padi fields throughout the state.

“This is a serious situation and has to be addressed immediately,” he said in a statement here.

He added that steps have to be taken to stop the spread of the weed in Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Tawau, Semporna, Beaufort, Kuala Penyu, Papar, Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Kota Marudu, Kota Belud, Kudat, Tongod and Tuaran.

The Cyrtobagous salviniae weevils which feed on the giant weeds. (Wikipedia pic)

Native to Brazil, the Salvinia molesta grows on water surfaces and endangers biodiversity and freshwater species, including fish and submerged aquatic plants.

The weed was first sighted in Sabah in early 2000s.

While it has the potential to treat blackwater effluent for an environmentally friendly sewage system, its rapid growth clogs waterways and blocks sunlight needed by other aquatic plants, particularly algae, to perform photosynthesis.

On the other hand, the weevil is a biological pest control agent for the giant salvinia, or kariba weed, since both adults and larvae feed on the plant.

Hajiji said the state government fully supported the various steps taken by the Sabah agriculture department together with various agencies in monitoring the giant salvinia infestation.

“I call upon the people of Sabah to join in and help keep our bodies of water and environment pristine,” he said.

At the same time, Hajiji said the people must refrain from bringing in, selling or spreading any type of non-native plant, animal or microorganisms without going through the proper quarantine procedures as stipulated in the 1976 Plant Quarantine Act and 1981 Quarantine Regulations.

Chief minister Hajiji Noor (second right) receiving pamphlets on the cyrtobagous salviniae weevils from Sabah agriculture director Dzulkifli Ghulamdin in Kota Kinabalu today. (CM Dept pic)

Giant salvinia can be bought online as decoration for guppy fish aquariums.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, deputy chief minister Jeffrey Kitingan said the giant salvinia is only one of more than 100 invasive alien species (IAS) in Sabah currently.

“The programme today is in accordance with the recommendations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which is an international multilateral treaty under the United Nations (UN).

“This convention has been refined and translated into the Sabah Biodiversity Strategy 2012-2022 and the National Biodiversity Policy 2016-2025 policies,” he said.

Kitingan, who is also the state agriculture and fisheries minister, said one of the activities and targets outlined in the existing policies is the control of IAS.

He said Malaysia has also previously encountered invasive foreign species, such as the cocoa pod borer insect which was a pest of cocoa crops in the 1980s and also the golden apple snail which was a pest in rice fields in the 1990s.

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The yellow-legged Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) is an
invasive species that poses a particular threat to the European honey
bee (Apis mellifera). This study reports on the management of Asian hornet
incursions in the UK, including the use of nest dissection and microsatellite
marker analysis (a form of genetic testing) to determine the relatedness and
reproductive status of detected nests and hornets.


The yellow-legged Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) is an invasive species in Europe. Once
established, the hornet presents a threat to native invertebrate species — particularly the European
honey bee (Apis mellifera), which is vulnerable to predation. Since 2004, Asian hornet populations
have colonised parts of France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Germany and some of the Channel
Islands. Their nests and lone individuals have also been detected in other countries, including the UK.
Pollinators are vital for our food production. By helping plants to reproduce, pollinators supporting a
supply of healthy and economically valuable food for humans, while supporting entire ecosystems.
The EU Pollinators Initiative is a strategy for Member States to address the decline of pollinators in
the EU and to support global conservation efforts.

In the study, British researchers describe the management of Asian hornet incursions, including the
use of nest dissection and microsatellite marker analysis (a form of genetic testing) to determine
the relatedness and reproductive status of detected nests.

In the UK, the Non-Native Species Secretariat and National Bee Unit respond to all reports of foraging
Asian hornets and use trajectory tracking techniques to locate and destroy nests. Between the time
of the first detection in 2016 and the end of 2019, a total of nine nests were detected. Lone adult
individual hornets were sampled from seven additional sites during the same time period.

After destruction, all nests were sent to a laboratory for dissection. For each, the number of adult
hornets, sex ratio, and mass of individuals was recorded. The diameter of the nest and each
individual comb was also measured, and the life stages present in the nest were determined.
Tissue samples from the nests and lone adult hornets were then collected for microsatellite
marker analysis. Microsatellites are segments of DNA where a short section of the nucleotide (a
basic building block of nucleic acid — an organic substance present in living cells such as DNA)
sequence repeats and are useful for measuring genetic variation.

The results of these analyses suggest that the Asian hornet has not established a population in
the UK, and that the detected nests and lone individuals are likely the result of separate incursions
from the European continent. None of the nests were found to have produced the next generation
of queens, and follow-up monitoring in affected regions detected no new nests in later years.
Diploid males (i.e. those having two identical chromosomal sets — indicative of inbreeding) were
also found in many UK nests, while microsatellite analysis showed that nests had low genetic
diversity and the majority of queens had mated with only one or two males. All nests were found
to have derived from continental Europe, rather than from Asia or elsewhere in the UK.

The researchers report such insights are used to guide real-time decision making in the UK. Data
on the reproductive status of the nest are used to inform the level of monitoring in the area
implemented in subsequent years. Determining whether captured individuals belong to one or
more nests also enables inspectors on the ground to know how many nests they are searching
for. For this reason, this research may be of interest to policymakers, particularly those concerned
with the management and control of invasive species and the protection of European apiculture

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New law vital weapon in war on destructive invasive species

The Royal Gazette

Sékou Hendrickson Updated: Oct 04, 2021 07:52 AM10

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Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs (File photograph)Related Stories

  • A law designed to safeguard Bermuda’s borders from the threat of destructive pests will help protect the environment for future generations, the home affairs minister has said.

But Walter Roban added that the Invasive Alien Species Act would not penalise citizens for accidentally having restricted species on their property.

Mr Roban said: “I just want to erase the belief that there’s going to be an effort to go around Bermuda, search people’s gardens and then fine them for what’s in their gardens. That is not what this law is about.”

“If by some chance someone, for some reason unbeknown to them, discovered a prohibited species in their possession, they have the opportunity to bring it to the attention of the department and have it dealt with without any penalty to them.

“But if you intentionally bring something here you will be subject to the law.”

Mr Roban added: “We human beings are the most invasive species on this island, so that means we have a responsibility to carry out the appropriate management and protection of this environment, which we’ve been shaping, changing and damaging over the last four centuries of settlement.

“It’s not just a ministerial objective – I, as a Bermudian resident, believe there is work that we can do to protect our environment and this Bill that I carried through is just a part of that package of protections that we need to have.”

Mr Roban was speaking after the House of Assembly passed the legislation.

People who import or trade in invasive species could face fines of up to $50,000 or two years in jail under the new law.

Mr Roban said the legislation was drawn up after months of consultation with environmental groups and the public.

He added the legislation was needed because invasive species could destroy ecosystems that Bermudian industries depended on.

Mr Roban highlighted lionfish, native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans but which has spread across the Caribbean and northern Atlantic.

The predator could eat most of the fish in Bermudian waters and destroy the fishing industry if left unchecked.

Mr Roban said that the cedar blight of the 1940s, when the scale bug killed off 99 per cent of the island’s cedar trees, was an example of the ecological destruction caused by pests imported by accident.

He added that restoration projects set up after the blight, some of which continue to the present, had cost the government millions of dollars.

Mr Roban added that casuarina trees, imported from Australia in the 1950s as windbreaks to replace wiped-out cedars, later caused coastal erosion through their roots – a problem that the government also had to combat with expensive management projects.

He said: “Some things that happened long before many of us were born – and, in some cases, before our parents were born – have had impacts that we still have to manage today.

“The chief challenge with invasive species is that they often push out the native species and when that happens it potentially creates an imbalance in our ecosystem.”

Andrew Pettit, the head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said that HM Customs helped keep unwanted plants and animals at bay.

But Mr Pettit added: “This legislation is critical – without it we don’t have the tools to manage things coming out from the horizon.”

He added that management of pests already on the island was a problem.

Mr Pettit said: “Plants are really hard to deal with and they’re going to be an ongoing battle, especially the ones that are proliferated through birds because they have a natural spreading mechanism.”

Mr Pettit added that the best way to help the fight against invasive species was for the public to be aware of the seriousness of the problem.

He said: “These species are dominating, so the more we can educate the public the more they can take on a role to actively help us manage this.”

• For more information on invasive species or to alert the authorities to suspicious or exotic plants and animals, phone the DENR at 236-4201.

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Stink bug discovery raises fears of threat to crops

By Helen Briggs
BBC Environment correspondentPublished1 day agoShare

Brown marmorated stink bug
Image caption,The bug produces a distinctive smell when disturbed

A stink bug that can spoil crops and infest homes has been trapped in Surrey as part of a monitoring study.

The brown marmorated stink bug is native to Asia, but has spread to parts of Europe and the US, where it can destroy fruit crops.

A lone stink bug was caught at RHS Garden Wisley this summer within weeks of the setting up of a pheromone trap.

The adult may be a stowaway brought in on imported goods or part of an undiscovered local population.

Dr Glen Powell, head of plant health at RHS Garden Wisley, said the stink bug may become commonplace in gardens and in homes within a decade.

“This isn’t a sudden invasion but potentially a gradual population build-up and spread, exacerbated by our warming world,” he said.

Dr Glen Powell
Image caption,Dr Glen Powell inspects the trap hung in a tree

It’s not yet clear if stink bugs are living undetected in parts of England or are rare visitors that hitch-hike in on imported goods or passenger luggage and survive for only a short time. So far, no eggs or immature bugs have been found that would suggest the bug is breeding and has set up home.

The bug has been caught only twice before in pheromone traps set up to lure it in by means of a natural chemical – in all cases as lone instances. The previous finds were at Rainham Marshes in Essex and in the wildlife garden of London’s Natural History Museum.

According to the department for the environment, Defra, the bug has been intercepted in the UK on several occasions – in passenger luggage flown in from the US, clothing and wood imports from the US, and stone imported from China.

The trap at Wisley is part of a national monitoring project led by a plant science research company, NIAB EMR, in Kent, and funded by Defra.

Dr Michelle Fountain, head of pest and pathogen ecology at NIAB EMR, said: “[The] brown marmorated stink bug represents a significant threat to food production systems in the UK so it is crucial that we continue to monitor any establishment and spread of the pest.”

Brown marmorated stink bug
Image caption,A single male stink bug was trapped at Wisley in Surrey this summer

There are more than 40 species of stink bugs, also known as shield bugs, already present in the UK. Most pose no threat to plant health and are not considered pests.

Brown marmorated stink bugs, which have a distinctive rectangular-shaped head, get their name from the odour they emit when threatened.

In the US, they can invade houses, clustering in their hundreds, and can be devastating for farmers, destroying fruit such as nectarines and peaches and feeding on a wide range of ornamental trees, vegetables and other plants.

Invasive species cost the UK economy over £1.8bn a year and can threaten the survival of other plants and animals. A Defra spokesperson said: “The brown marmorated stink bug is not a significant threat to our crops – but as with all pests and diseases we will continue to monitor any threats closely.”

Anyone finding what they believe to be a brown marmorated stink bug is asked to take a picture and report the sighting at BMSB@niab.com or via email to Entomology@rhs.org.uk.

Follow Helen on Twitter.

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Registration is open for the IPPC webinar series on Fall Armyworm Training Material

Posted on Mon, 27 Sep 2021, 16:16Responsive image

IPPC Secretariat invites interested users to register for the “Fall Armyworm Training Material: FAO/IPPC Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Guidelines for Spodoptera frugiperda webinar series. (Please register individually for all three sessions in the series)

Webinar 1: 22 October 12:00-13:30 (CET) Register here

Content: Introduction, General launch and guidelines presentation, including FAW distribution and biology

Webinar 2: 19 November 12:00-13:30 (CET) Register here

Content: Fall Armyworm Prevention and Preparedness (When FAW is still absent from a country)

Webinar 3: 10 December 12:00-13:30 (CET) Register here

Content: Fall Armyworm Response and Communication (When FAW has been officially detected and confirmed by a country)

Webinars are addressed to Quarantine and biosecurity experts, NPPOs and RPPOs staffs, researchers supporting NPPOs, producer associations, technical assistance organizations, manufacturers of technical means of control, and surveillance.

The webinar will be held in English with simultaneous interpretation into French and Arabic.

To consult the detailed program and more information, please visit: https://www.ippc.int/en/news/workshops-events/webinars/fall-armyworm-faw-training-part-1-22-october-part-2-19-november-and-part-3-10-december/…..

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Latin American bananas still threatened by Panama Tropical Race 4

Panama Tropical Race 4 (TR4), is spreading across Latin America. Virtually undetectable and untreatable, the disease is a serious threat to farmers of Cavendish bananas, the most commercialized banana variety in the world. TR4, a fungal disease which lives in the soil, remains undetected for decades and spreads easily via contaminated plant material, water, and soil. It can lead to a 100 percent yield loss of the Cavendish banana.

Worldwide, the Cavendish banana accounts for 47 percent of global production. In 2019, 80 percent of global banana exports came from Latin America and the Caribbean. The importance of Cavendish bananas for Latin America’s economy makes the presence of TR4 particularly concerning. TR4 was first reported in Latin America in 2019, after being detected in Colombia. This was followed by a second report in northern Peru in April 2021.

Both cases triggered the declaration of a national emergency in Colombia and Peru, and swift action by companies and government institutions alike, promoting infrastructure investment and biosecurity protocols across Latin American countries.

Countries such as Ecuador are now on high alert for TR4. Juan José Pons, coordinator of the Ecuadorian Banana Cluster, tells Food Tank that while TR4 has not yet been detected in Ecuador, the disease “will not only affect the banana sector but will also jeopardize the economic stability of the country.”

Source: foodtank.com

Publication date: Thu 30 Sep 2021

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The Conversation

The fall armyworm invasion is fierce this year – and scientists are researching how to stop its destruction of lawns, football fields and crops

September 17, 2021 8.15am EDT

Author

  1. Scott D. StewartProfessor of Entomology and Director of the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center, University of Tennessee

Disclosure statement

Scott D. Stewart’s research and extension programs at the University of Tennessee are partially supported by grants and contracts from Tennessee cotton, corn and soybean commodity boards, the USDA, and from various seed and pesticide companies for evaluation of their technologies.

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Across the Northeast, Midwest, South and Southwest United States, homeowners are watching with horror as their lawns turn from green to brown, sometimes in less than 48 hours, and wondering, “What happened this year – and how did it happen so fast?”

The culprit: the fall armyworm.

As an entomologist, I can attest that their appearance is nothing new: They’re an annual problem, but the scale of this year’s invasion is unprecedented. These voracious feeders are destroying lawns and grasses, attacking golf courses, pastures, football and soccer fields – and they can completely defoliate rice, soybean, alfalfa and other crop fields within days. They are called armyworms because of their habit of marching across the landscape.

The invader

The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, isn’t a worm. It’s a striped caterpillar, the larvae of an ordinary and benign brown moth. It’s native to the Americas and is extremely adaptable, thriving everywhere from lush forests to arid regions and in pristine, disturbed and urban landscapes.

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The armyworms’ impact on lawn grass can be dramatic. Scott D. Stewart, Author provided

This moth survives year-round in warmer locales, from the tip of South America to the southern U.S. Each year they invade more northern regions until cold weather ends their occupation.

From larvae to moth, its entire life cycle is about 30 days during the summer and 60 in spring and fall. Adult moths survive just two weeks. During that time, a female lays up to 2,000 eggs, deposited underneath leaves in clusters of 100 to 200.

The moths aren’t the problem; it’s their larvae. When eggs first hatch, the tiny caterpillars are barely noticeable, about one-sixteenth of an inch long. By the time the caterpillars reach full size – an inch and a half – they’ve become ravenous eaters.During its short life cycle, the fall armyworm can devastate important crops.

Depending on the season, the armyworms eat and grow for 14 to 30 days. Initially, they chew holes in leaves, sometimes reducing them to a lacework skeleton. If they run out of food, they become cannibals, with the larger armyworms preying on the smaller ones.

Then they burrow into the ground, encase themselves in a cocoon and pupate. When they emerge as moths, the cycle repeats, with the next generation propelling their expansion across the country.

An invasive species

Meanwhile, fall armyworms have spread across the globe as an invasive species, reaching the Near East, Asia, Australia, Africa and India. Without its native complement of parasites, predators and diseases to control it, these rapacious caterpillars pose a serious agricultural threat to these newly invaded countries.

Farming practices have fueled their proliferation. Most of these countries do not grow armyworm-resistant GMO crops and many have limited access to newer insecticides and modern application equipment.

Armyworms have been particularly destructive in sub-Saharan Africa, where they devour maize, the continent’s staple crop. Damage is estimated at US$2 billion per year. It also causes major damage to corn, rice, sorghum, sugar cane, vegetable crops and cotton.

This year’s ‘perfect storm’

Entomologist David Kerns sounded the alarm in June, warning that armyworms in Texas were bad and heading north and east. They’d gotten off to an early start, aided by good weather in their winter home range.

Once the moths are on the move, they leave their natural enemies behind, taking their new territories by surprise. They can migrate hundreds of miles, riding the winds to reinfest the northern part of their domain. But with an early start this year, they rode the winds farther than normal. By the end of August, much of the southern U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains had suffered serious assault, akin to a plague of locusts.

An adult armyworm moth (genus Spodoptera) Scott D. Stewart, Author provided
Newly hatched armyworms. Scott D. Stewart, Author provided

How do we control the invasion?

There are two ways to deal with an infestation: Wait it out, or fight. For those concerned about lawns, waiting may be the answer. Armyworms don’t feast on all grasses, and a well-established lawn will often recover, though it may not look great for a while. However, armyworms particularly love freshly laid sod, which may sustain irreparable damage.

Waiting it out isn’t an option for farmers. Applying insecticides is the only way to save crops, which may prove difficult as pandemic-fueled disruptions have left some insecticides in short supply. Success is a numbers game: Killing 80% of a group of 100 armyworms controls them, but with larger numbers of armyworms, killing 80% still means many crops will be devastated.

Some evidence also suggests that fall armyworms may be developing more resistance to certain insecticides, and it wouldn’t be the first time. This pest is infamous for developing resistance to the insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis produced by genetically modified crops. My colleague Juan Luis Jurat-Fuentes is trying to understand how the fall armyworm becomes resistant to Bt toxins in Bt corn and cotton.

His work is also revealing how insecticidal protein-resistant armyworms are spreading their genes across the Americas. We are currently collaborating on a project using gene silencing to help control outbreaks of fall armyworm. The technique can turn off specific genes, including those that make the fall armyworm resistant to insecticides. The goal is to develop extremely specific and effective insecticides that have minimal impact on the environment and other wildlife species.

Fall armyworm on damaged corn. ossyugioh/Getty Images

The cost – and the future

The economic costs of fall armyworm invasions are high. This year alone they have preyed upon millions of acres of crops, hayfields, lawns and turfgrass. Farmers, homeowners and businesses have spent tens of millions of dollars on insecticide applications. Some farms have suffered major crop losses.

The battle is not quite over. It will continue for a few more weeks as the fall armyworm continues to spread farther north and east.

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Was this “year of the armyworm” a fluke? Will they be back? The answer to both questions is probably yes. We don’t know why fall armyworms started off en masse in 2021, but the extreme infestations were hopefully a rare anomaly. There is concern, however, that a warming climate will allow these and other subtropical and tropical insects to expand their territories northward.

We do know that armyworms will reinvade much of the Southern U.S. every year as they always have, and northern states should expect more frequent incursions from insect neighbors to the south.

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University of Florida research

‘Citrus microbiome might be key to fighting citrus diseases’

University of Florida researchers hope to discover how microbes may benefit citrus trees in their natural fight against diseases. Nian Wang, professor of microbiology and cell science and Chris Oswalt, UF/IFAS Extension citrus agent for Polk and Hillsborough counties, will identify the beneficial traits of microbes within plants that have the potential to specifically impact citrus pathogens.

The project is funded through a $749,990 grant from the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“A better understanding of the plant microbiome and innovative approaches in application are required to engineer the plant microbiome for successful disease control,” Wang, who has extensive experience in citrus microbiome research, told blogs.ifas.ufl.edu. “This grant will help us gather important information that moves us closer to that goal.”

Microbes can affect plant health and fitness, stimulate plant growth, and protect plants from biotic and abiotic stress. They can live externally on or internally in their host plants. Microbes that live outside their host plants are either epiphytic, i.e., living on the plant leaf surface, or rhizospheric, i.e., inhabiting plant roots within the soil. Conversely, microbes that live and thrive inside their host plant are called endophytic microbes.

Publication date: Fri 24 Sep 2021

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Successful Farming

MARCH OF THE ARMYWORMS

ENTOMOLOGIST TO WINTER WHEAT FARMERS: WAIT TO PLANT.By Bill Spiegel9/21/2021

Armyworm on soybean pods

Kansas State University

An entomologist at Kansas State University urges winter wheat farmers to hold off on planting the crop due to an unusual infestation of fall armyworm that can quickly wipe out lush green wheat.

Jeff Whitworth, Extension agronomist at KSU, says farmers in Kansas are seeding winter wheat now, or will begin soon. With fall armyworm populations thriving, young wheat plants could be eradicated as soon as they emerge, he says.

“I would delay wheat planting as long as possible,” Whitworth says. “If there is any green wheat, these worms have the potential to do a great deal of damage.”

Delaying wheat planting is advised because insecticide seed treatments do not work on armyworms, Whitworth says. “We have tested this several times and they simply don’t work,” he emphasizes. Therefore, growers have two options to prevent damage. One, delay planting until after the Hessian fly-free date. Option two is to plant wheat as planned and monitor for damage. When the threshold gets to five or six armyworms per square foot, spray an insecticide over the top of the wheat crop. Insecticide options include products with active ingredients including pyrethroids, alpha-cypermethrin, beta-cyfluthrin, cyfluthrin, gamma-cyhalothrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, permethrin and zeta cypermethrin, organophosphates, choloropyrifos and carbamates, carbaryl and methomyl.PAID CONTENThttps://api.sele.co/iframe/v4.html?id=3903e723-938c-49bc-878a-55414ad7721d&_sm_xdm=true&use_xdm=1&autoStart=true&auto_start=1&start_muted=true&start_paused=1&disable_tab=1#https://www.agriculture.com/march-of-the-armyworms

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For the latter option, “…there are insecticides that work for armyworms, but is it worth the cost when growers could just delay planting?” Whitworth says.

There are two types of armyworms:

  • Fall armyworms feed on a wide range of host plants, including soybeans, sorghum, alfalfa, and corn. They have four spots on the top of the last abdominal segment, forming a square. They do not overwinter in most High Plains states.
  • True armyworms feed mostly on grasses. They don’t have have the spots fall armyworms possess.

Both species will feed on any plant material if they are hungry enough; they also have the same life cycle.

“Armyworms may continue to cycle through another generation, or even two, as they overwinter in Kansas,” Whitworth says. “Ultimately it will probably take a hard frost or freeze to stop them.”

Bob Wright, Extension entomologist at UNL, agrees. “Given the populations of fall armyworms to the south of us, it is likely moths will continue to be present in southern Nebraska for a while. Fall armyworms have a broad host range and can feed on broadleaf and grassy crops. Be sure to get out and monitor newly seeded alfalfa and wheat as seedling plants can be killed rapidly by caterpillars feeding on them,” Wright says.

WHY NOW?

The 2021 armyworm infestations have been particularly brutal. From Texas north to Nebraska and as far east as Michigan, insects have marched through farm fields, chewing through tender growth of plants and leaving fields bare in their wake.

Armyworms infest primarily grasses (sorghum, corn, brome pastures, lawns, etc.) and often this time of year, wheat, but occasionally alfalfa. Thus, if armyworms are the problem, they could be around through another generation or maybe even two depending upon the weather. If armyworms are relatively small they will probably feed for another 10 to 14 days, then pupate (stop feeding). If they are relatively large, however, they will probably pupate in the next three to seven days. There will probably be at least one more generation of armyworms.

“Hopefully, they will be heading south after these larvae finish feeding and become moths,” Whitworth says.

Also, in the next 30 to 60 days, army cutworm moths should have returned from their summer Rocky Mountain retreat to deposit eggs throughout at least the western two/thirds of the state and thus, these tiny worms will start feeding on wheat and/or alfalfa all winter.Read more about Crops

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Farm Weekly

Russian wheat aphids are on the move

Shannon Beattie20 Sep 2021, 6 a.m.Cropping News

Russian wheat aphid has been detected north of the Great Eastern Highway for the first time since it was first detected in WA in August 2020.

 Russian wheat aphid has been detected north of the Great Eastern Highway for the first time since it was first detected in WA in August 2020.Aa

RUSSIAN wheat aphids (RWA) have been found in barley and wheat crops in the Kwinana East and West port zones, as well as the Albany and Esperance zones where it has previously been reported.

This is the first time the aphid has been detected north of the Great Eastern Highway since it was first detected in WA in August 2020 in the Southern wheat growing area.

Surveillance by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and crop monitoring by growers and consultants will help to determine the extent of the spread of the pest in WA.

DPIRD research scientist Svetlana Micic said RWA was manageable and there were a range of treatment options.

“RWA is a pest of wheat and barley and grass weeds like brome grass and barley grass,” Ms Micic said.

“It is small, about two millimetres in length, pale yellowish green in colour with distinguishable black eyes.

“They have an elongated body shape, with bifurcated cauda (structure that looks like a tail), which gives the appearance of two tiny tails on the rear end though these can be difficult to see.”

RWA inject a toxin into the plant during feeding which retards growth and with heavy infestations can kill the plant.

The toxin can cause visible purpling of leaves which is due to damage to the plant chloroplasts.

“Other plant symptoms caused by RWA feeding damage can include leaves rolling along margins, hooked shaped head growth from awns trapped in curling flag leaf and heads with a bleached appearance,” Ms Micic said.

“RWA damage looks similar to herbicide or mite damage and symptoms can appear on plants as early as seven days after RWA feeding but does not indicate that colonies are still present on plants.

“Feeding damage symptoms from RWA do not mean there will be a yield loss – even a few aphids can cause symptoms to appear and crop yield loss is influenced by the percentage of tillers with RWA per paddock.”

Aphids first colonise around crop edges and are found most frequently on the youngest leaves or on newly emerged flowers/seed heads.

RWA numbers in a crop is determined by walking in a ‘w’ pattern noting the number of aphids per tiller every few paces.

Research investment by Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) in the Eastern States has found maximum aphid densities are expected to occur between booting and ear emergence.

Ms Micic said populations of RWA could double every 35 days until ear emergence.

“It is not recommended to spray for RWA unless threshold levels are reached – the action threshold for this pest depends on the cost of control, the cereal market price, yield potential and estimated time until ear emergence,” she said.

“Aphid predators such as lacewings, hoverflies and parasitoid wasps are effective in controlling RWA so consideration should be given to an aphid specific insecticide that preserves beneficials.

“As RWA are typically found at the base and sheath of younger leaves and within leaves curled lengthwise by their feeding, good spray coverage is important, and crops should be monitored after spraying to ensure the insecticide has reached those RWA sheltering.”

If crops are past flowering it is too late to spray and growers need to start planning for seed dressings for next year.

Growers, agronomists, and consultants are encouraged to survey cereal crops and grassy weeds and to report any aphid activity or damage to Pestfax reporter app.

RWA damage can look similar to mite or herbicide damage.

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