Archive for the ‘Emerging/invasive pests’ Category

New data on quarantine pests and pests of the EPPO Alert List

By searching through the literature, the EPPO Secretariat has extracted the following new data concerning quarantine pests and pests included (or formerly included) on the EPPO Alert List, and indicated in bold the situation of the pest concerned using the terms of ISPM 8.

  • New records

In China, Ralstonia syzygii subsp. indonesiensis (EPPO A1 List) was isolated for the first time from wilted tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). The identity of the bacteria was confirmed by sequencing. This is the first record of this subspecies on tobacco, and the first record of the species in China (Lu et al., 2021).

In Brazil, Zaprionus tuberculatus (Diptera: Drosophilidae – formerly EPPO Alert List) was first recorded in January 2020 in urban parks in Brasilia (Distrito Federal) and in 2021 in several natural reserves around the city. This is the first record of the species in the Americas (Cavalcanti et al., 2021).

  • Detailed records

In the USA, Elsinoë australis (EU Annexes), the causal agent of sweet orange scab, is first reported from Alabama. Two quarantine areas have been established in Baldwin and Mobile counties, respectively (NAPPO, 2021). 

The pest status of Elsinoë australis in the USA is officially declared as: Present: not widely distributed and under official control.

In Western Siberia (RU), Ips amitinus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae – EU Annexes) was first recorded in 2019 in Tomsk (237 ha) and Kemerovo oblasts (1033 ha), damaging Pinus sibirica (Siberian pine) (EPPO RS 2020/067). Further studies have shown that the pest rapidly spread within Siberian pine forests in Tomsk, Kemerovo, and Novosibirsk oblasts, covering an area of 31 200 km². Considering its spread towards the east, and the fact that I. amitinus successfully colonized P. koraiensis (Korean pine) in an arboretum near Tomsk, the authors noted that I. amitinus might also represent a threat to P. koraiensis in the Russian Far East (Kerchev et al., 2022).

In France, in the framework of the official surveys for potato cyst nematodes, Globodera rostochiensis (EPPO A2 List) was detected in a field of potato (Solanum tuberosum) in Puy-de-Dôme department (Auvergne-Rhônes-Alpes region). Eradication measures are applied (NPPO of France, 2022-05). 

The pest status of Globodera rostochiensis in France is officially declared as: Transient, actionable, under eradication.

In Iran, tomato brown rugose fruit virus (Tobamovirus, ToBRFV – EPPO A2 List) had previously been reported from tomato crops (EPPO RS 2021/235). It has been also reported from symptomatic bell pepper crops (Capsicum sp.) in late December 2021 (Esmaeilzadeh & Koolivand, 2021).

In the United Kingdom, tomato brown rugose fruit virus (Tobamovirus, ToBRFV – EPPO A2 List) was declared eradicated in December 2021 (EPPO RS 2022/018). In May 2022, a new outbreak was confirmed in a tomato production site in the West Midlands which had been first infected in 2020. Eradication measures are applied. 

The pest status of tomato brown rugose fruit virus in the United Kingdom is officially declared as: Present: not widely distributed and under official control.

In Western Australia (AU), Thekopsora minima (EPPO A2 List) was found for the first time in April 2022. This blueberry rust has been found in several locations, including the Perth metropolitan area, Manjimup, and Swan View. In Australia, T. minima is present in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria, and is subject to containment measures in Tasmania. In Western Australia, eradication of the disease is not considered feasible (Government of Western Australia, Greenlife Industry Australia, 2022).

Citrus canker caused by Xanthomonas citri pv. citri (EPPO A1 List) was found in a nursery in South Carolina (USA) in February 2022 on Citrus meyeri and Citrus aurantifolia. Eradication measures are applied in the nursery and trace-forward activities are conducted to trace and destroy citrus plants sold to customers in 11 US states (Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington) (USDA-APHIS, 2022).

  • New pests and taxonomy

The causal agent of a severe needle blight disease observed in New Zealand (Gisborne region, North Island) on Podocarpus totara (Podocarpaceae) has been identified as a new phytophthora species called Phytophthora podocarpi sp. nov. Affected totara trees show needle dieback in the lower crown. Infected needles initially turn khaki in colour, then blacken and fall. Shoot infection causes the needles above the point of infection to turn brown, and as these remain attached, affected trees have a scorched appearance. To-date, the disease has affected a small number of trees and no mortality has been observed (Dobbie et al., 2022).


Cavalcanti FA, Ribeiro LB, Marins G, Tonelli GS, Báo SN, Yassin A, Tidon R (2021) Geographic expansion of an invasive fly: first record of Zaprionus tuberculatus (Diptera: Drosophilidae) in the Americas. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, saab052. https://doi.org/10.1093/aesa/saab052 

Dobbie K, Scott P, Taylor P, Panda P, Sen D, Dick M, McDougal R (2022) Phytophthora podocarpi sp. nov. from diseased needles and shoots of Podocarpus in New Zealand. Forests 13, 214. https://doi.org/10.3390/f13020214

Esmaeilzadeh F, Koolivand D (2022) First report of tomato brown rugose fruit virus infecting bell pepper in Iran. Journal of Plant Pathology (early view). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42161-022-01094-2

Government of Western Australia (2022-05-16) Blueberry rust: biosecurity alert. https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/plant-biosecurity/blueberry-rust-declared-pest#:~:text=Blueberry%20rust%20

Greenlife Industry Australia (2022) Blueberry rust in Western Australia. https://www.greenlifeindustry.com.au/communications-centre/blueberry-rust-in-western-australia

Kerchev IA, Krivets SA, Bisirova EM, Smirnov NA (2022) Distribution of the small spruce bark beetle Ips amitinus (Eichhoff, 1872) in Western Siberia. Russian Journal of Biological Invasions 13(1), 58–63. https://doi.org/10.1134/S2075111722010076

Lu CH, Li JY, Mi MG, Lin ZL, Jiang N, Gai XT, Jun-Hong M, Lei LP, Xia ZY (2021) Complete genome sequence of Ralstonia syzygii subsp. indonesiensis strain LLRS-1, isolated from wilted tobacco in China. Phytopathology 111(12), 2392-2394.

NAPPO Phytosanitary Pest Alert System. Official Pest Reports. Elsinoë australis (causal agent of Sweet Orange Scab): APHIS adds Baldwin and Mobile Counties in Alabama to the Domestic Quarantine Area (2021-12-17) https://pestalerts.org/official-pest-report/elsino-australis-causal-agent-sweet-orange-scab-aphis-adds-baldwin-and-mobile.

NPPO of France (2022-05).

NPPO of the United Kingdom (2022-05).

USDA-Aphis (2022-03-08) USDA confirms citrus canker in a South Carolina nursery and takes action. https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/plant-pest-and-disease-programs/pests-and-diseases/citrus/citrus-canker/citrus-canker

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The workshop will take place from 19 to 20 September 2022, at Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, United Kingdom. Participation is free of charge.

Register NOW! Before is too late*.

More information on the programme and updates available HERE

*registration will be open until 31 July 2022, there are limited places.

For more information contact ippc@fao.org

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Southern Rust Identified in Corn – Be Vigilant & Scout

by Ethan Carter | Jun 3, 2022 | CornDiseaseField CropsPest Management

Ethan Carter, Regional Crop IPM Agent, Ian Small, UF/IFAS NFREC Plant Pathologist, and Nick Dufault, UF/IFAS Extension Pathologist

Many of the Panhandle’s March planted corn fields are now well into tassel stage (VT), while others are rapidly approaching that developmental milestone. From tassel to milk stage (R3) is a key period during the season when it is critical to prevent yield loss due to disease. It is very important for growers to scout and consider disease pressure leading up to these critical growth stages.

Southern rust is one of the most concerning corn diseases for our area. Yield losses up to 45 percent have been reported with severe disease. Timely fungicide applications can usually save 5-10 bushels/Acre, with applications between the silking (R1) and milk stage (R3) providing the most yield savings. According to UGA’s Extension Pathologist Bob Kemerait, early onset southern rust can have the potential yield loss of 100 bu/A, if left untreated. Additional applications may be needed for season-long crop protection, depending on the timing of disease onset and the intended use of the corn i.e. grain vs silage. Applying a fungicide to field corn within two weeks (50 percent starch line) of physiological maturity (black layer) is unlikely to provide an economic benefit.

Typical southern rust signs with (top) orange to light brown, small and densely packed pustules on the upper leaf surface. (bottom) The lower leaf surface has yellow flecks and very few if any pustules. These symptoms and signs can distinguish southern rust from common rust.

–Southern rust of corn was identified in late April in South Florida (Jupiter), North Central Florida in late May (Citra), Southwest Georgia (Wayne County) on June 1st, and Southeast Georgia (Grady County) on June 2nd. The rainy weather across the Panhandle the past 10 days has created a perfect opportunity for disease development. Southern rust spores are carried long distances by wind. The recent rain and humid conditions create a damp microclimate in fields providing conducive conditions for spores to germinate and infect plants.

An excellent resource for fungicide efficacy on corn diseases with an extensive product list is provided by the Corn Disease Working Group (page 2). There are many labeled products available, each with strengths and weaknesses relating to different diseases. Products with mixed modes of action tend to have a longer protective window compared to those with a single mode of action. Mixed modes of action tend to provide better efficacy and more robust disease protection, as well as reducing the risk of resistance development. Use the link above to compare product efficacies for southern rust.  Some example products with single and mixed modes of action that have southern rust activity are listed below.

Example products with mixed modes of action include:

  • TrivaPro 2.21 SE (13.7 oz/A)
  • Headline AMP 1.68 SC (10-14.4 oz/A)
  • Veltyma (7-10 oz/A)
  • Approach Prima 2.34 SC (3.4-6.8 oz/A)
  • Stratego YLD 4.18 SC (4-5 oz/A)
  • Delaro Complete 3.83 SC (8-12 oz/A)

Example products with single modes of action include:

  • Tebuconazole (4-6 oz/A- depending on product)
  • Headline 2.09 EC/SC (6-12 oz/A)
  • Quadris 2.08 SC (6-15.5 oz/A- depending on product)
  • Domark 230 ME (4-6 oz/A)

–For additional information about Southern rust of corn use the following link for the Southern Crop Protection Network’s Southern Corn Rust Disease Management Guide.  For other information, contact your local extension office.

Ethan Carter

Ethan Carter

Ethan Carter is the Regional Row Crop IPM Agent based in Jackson County. He earned his BS in Food and Resource Economics, and his MS in Agronomy, both from the University of Florida.

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Banana freckle disease found in the Northern Territory again


 / By Matt Brann

Posted Tue 31 May 2022 at 9:25pmTuesday 31 May 2022 at 9:25pm, updated Tue 31 May 2022 at 9:46pmTuesday 31 May 2022 at 9:46pm

Banana Freckle
Banana freckle has been detected on a property south of Darwin.(Supplied)

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The plant disease known as banana freckle has been found in the Northern Territory again, three years after it was officially eradicated from Australia.

Key points:

  • Banana freckle has been discovered on a rural property in the Batchelor region
  • Restrictions placed on only one property so far
  • Banana freckle affects the fruit and leaves of the banana plant

NT Farmers chief executive Paul Burke said the disease had been confirmed on a rural, residential property in the Batchelor region, south of Darwin, on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Burke said it was too early to determine the source or the potential spread of the disease.

“Banana freckle causes leaves and fruit to become spotty and has a sandpaper feel when touched,” he said.

“The disease significantly reduces fruit quality and yields.”

He said the disease was seen as a major threat to Australia’s $500 million banana industry.

What happens next?

NT chief plant health officer Anne Walters said the outbreak had been detected on dwarf cavendish bananas and surveillance to understand the extent of the infestation had started.

“It may well be limited to one or several properties in that [Batchelor] area, or it may be more widespread, so we’re doing a lot of surveillance,” Dr Walters said.

“We have restrictions on the property in question and asked them not to move any plant material or fruit off the property… this restriction is limited to just this property at this stage.”

Dr Walters said it was too early to say whether or not the government would enforce more restrictions or conduct an eradication program.

The NT Farmers Association said it would focus all of its efforts “to help eliminate the spread of the disease and limit its financial impact on farmers”. 

Banana plants buried
NT residents will be hoping not to lose their banana plants again.(Carl Curtain)

Last outbreak cost $26 million 

Australia’s first outbreak of banana freckle on the popular cavendish banana variety happened back in 2013.

It led to a large eradication program that resulted in thousands of banana plants being removed from across the Top End.

The NT’s commercial banana industry was essentially wiped out during the program, meaning NT supermarkets became reliant on banana imports from interstate.

But it was the community anger that perhaps defined the NT’s eradication program, with many residents and business owners feeling the program was poorly communicated and too heavy-handed.  

Authorities are asking NT residents to be on the look out for any signs of banana freckle and report symptoms to the exotic plant pest hotline 1800 084 881.

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Posted 31 May 202231 May 2022, updated 31 May 202231 May 2022

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Growers urged to stand firm against new potato blight strain

8th June

By Kathryn DickBusiness Reporter


root crop technical manager, Darryl Shailes

Root crop technical manager, Darryl Shailes

Another unseasonably dry spring may have reduced early blight risk so far, but the prevalence of new, aggressive strains means growers cannot afford to drop their guard, leading agronomy firm Hutchinsons warns.

Much can be learned from the 2021 season, which also started very dry with low blight risk, but quickly turned into a big blight year, the firm’s root crop technical manager Darryl Shailes commented: “It saw many crops carrying significant loading of potato blight, even where the best chemistry was used.”

The weather was a key factor in this turnaround, but it also coincided with an increase in the EU_36_A2 blight strain, which, according to AHDB recording, was prevalent across all but western England last year and dominated infections in eastern counties.

Data from crop protection company Belchim suggests EU_36_A2 has the ability to produce many more spores in a wider range of weather conditions than strains that have previously dominated UK blight populations, such as EU_13_A2 or EU_6_A1.

Read more: Scottish Agronomy conference hears of new late blight strain

Another strain, EU_37_A2 has a similar capacity to 36_A2, and is also resistant to fluazinam, however, confirmed infections have declined with a reduction in the amount of fluazinam used across the industry, leaving it now largely confined to the West and North.

“EU_36_A2 is also out-competing it, which is common in the epidemics of recent seasons, when one strain tends to dominate field infection with very little mixture of genotypes being identified.”

However, he points out that last season’s AHDB monitoring did show an increase in the number of “other” genotypes found in Scotland, suggesting there may be some new, as yet unidentified strains being created by genetic recombination.

Mr Shailes urges growers to consider the changing nature of blight infections when putting together control strategies through the season, particularly as crops go through rapid canopy expansion to full canopy.

“In trials we always see the weakest programmes have the weakest start and cannot be brought back with very robust treatments later in the season. In recent seasons the epidemic has tended to be early in the season when crops are approaching full canopy.

“The strongest option with good systemic activity to protect rapidly growing canopies is benthiavalicarb + oxathiapiprolin. Using it for the third or fourth blight spray, or earlier if necessary, is generally an effective timing, and in high risk situations,” he recommended, adding that growers should reduce the spray interval to seven days from the more normal 10.

“The actives can also play a useful role during any high-risk periods that occur once crops reach the stable canopy phase. However, as with any fungicide programme, product stewardship is vital, so growers should use a range of different actives and alternate modes of action throughout the season.

“There are various options available for different scenarios, so product choice should be discussed with your agronomist and tailored to disease risk, variety and other considerations, such as the need for controlling other diseases, such as Sclerotinia, Botrytis, or Alternaria,” Mr Shailes continued.

He cautions against the overuse of fluazinam, as this has potential to select for the resistant EU_37_A2 blight strain. Fluazinam still controls other blight genotypes so has a useful role to play, but it must be supported by tank mixing other strong blight actives. In addition, fluazinam has an important role to play for Sclerotinia, Alternaria and Botrytis management.

“As always, it is vital to stay on top of any other potential sources of blight infection, notably potato dumps, or volunteers growing in heaps of stones or around the edges of fields. Last year showed wide joins and headlands can often act as infecter sources, much like in a blight trial, thereby exacerbating blight pressure within the crop,” he stated.

With uncertainty over whether there will be any industry Blight Watch type service, Mr Shailes concluded by urging growers and agronomists to sign up to Syngenta’s BlightCast (https://www.syngenta.co.uk/blightcast), to receive email warnings of predicted blight risk in the local area to provide another tool in the proactive defence against blight this season.

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Group aims save ash trees with release of 209 wasps in Pascoag conservation area


 Editorial team


June 7, 2022

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From left to right are Paul Roselli, president of the Burrillville Land Trust; URI research assistant Saffron Zaniewski, and Alana Russell, manager of the URI Biocontrol Lab.

BURRILLVILLE – With exotic beetles that have the potential to destroy all of the area’s ash trees discovered in four Rhode Island counties, local conservationists and those who study the bugs have taken action.

The Burrillville Land Trust and experts with the University of Rhode Island Biocontrol Lab recently released 209 parasitoid wasps at the Edward Vock Conservation Area in Pascoag in hopes to protect the trees from extinction.

“With the release of these parasitoid wasps, all hope that we save our native ash trees,” said BLT President Paul Roselli.

Roselli took part in the release of the wasps, adult Spathius galinae – which are a parasitoid of the invasive beetle known as the emerald ash borer. The wasps attack the larvae of beetle, and kills them before the can mature.

The beetle reportedly arrived accidentally in the early 1990s in cargo imported from Asia.

The Burrillville conservation area on Jackson Schoolhouse Road has been the sight for much of the research and release of these parasitoid wasps in northwestern Rhode Island. The two other species of parasitoids that were released in past years at the Vock Conservation Area were Tetrastichus planipennisi – another larval parasitoid, released from the small ash bolts hung from the trees – and Oobius agrili – an egg parasitoid, released from the small medicine bottle-looking implements that also hang from trees.

Emerald Ash Borer have been found in four of the five counties in the state, with none of the beetles detected as of yet in Bristol County.

Alana Russell from the URI Biocontrol Lab; URI graduate Saffron Zaniewski, who also works at the lab; and Paul Ricard from URI will be conducting detection trapping in Bristol this year.

One of the first properties where the beetles were detected in 2018 was a second lot owned by the land trust on South Shore Road. The EAB was discovered using a purple prism trap, devices visitors to the area may have noticed high above in the tree canopy. Ricard went back in 2019, girdled trees and collected larvae.

“So far, the trees at the Vock conservation area are still in good condition, given that the first state detections were not far away near Wallum Lake,” Roselli said.

Other sites of interest along Round Top Pond are showing signs of decline due to the EAB infestation, he noted.

“We are hopeful that these little creatures will help save these majestic ash trees from extinction,” said Roselli.

For more information, a forest service brochure on EAB biocontrol and ash regeneration can be found here. Those interested in saving their own trees from the Emerald Ash Borer can also find an article on the beetles from Northern Woodlands here.

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Welcome Wasps: Parasitoids Show Promise for Management of Invasive Fruit Fly


In Washington state and British Columbia, Canada, two species of wasps from Asia have been found to be successfully parasitizing the invasive fruit fly spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), pictured here. (Photo by Sam R via iNaturalistCC BY-NC 4.0)

By Ed Ricciuti

Ed Ricciuti

It is still too early to say for sure, but North American fruit growers may have caught a big break in their daunting battle against the invasive fruit fly known as spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), which has cost more than $700 million in crop damage annually since its arrival in 2008. The stroke of luck is that two small wasps that parasitize the fly’s larvae in its native Asia have established a beachhead astride the border of British Columbia and Washington state and could serve as natural allies for embattled growers.

A change in scene from its original home has not helped the fly escape the lethal attention of the wasps, Leptopilina japonica and Ganaspis brasiliensis, according to a new study published in May in Environmental EntomologyWithin the area of southwestern British Columbia where the researchers carried out their study, both wasps parasitize the fly at the same level as in their natural Asian range.

A team of scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, the University of British Columbia, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture collaborated on the study, which explored the associations between spotted-wing drosophila (SWD), its host plants, and the wasps in several habitats. The researchers say “the close association between the two larval parasitoids and D. suzukii that exists in Asia has evidentially been reconstructed in North America, resulting in the highest parasitism levels of D. suzukii yet recorded outside of its area of origin.” Their findings suggest the wasps potentially are an effective biological of SWD around the globe.

“Remarkable,” is the way the researchers describe how the wasps have fit in to the ecology of their introduced range in North America. “They have evidently re-formed a close association with D. suzukii across a wide range of host plants including cultivated and wild shrubs, trees, and low-growing plants in a wide variety of habitats and seem to be co-existing with each other in a manner very similar to their native range,” they write in their journal article.

For an entire growing season, the research team carried out their work in a wide range of habitats, ranging from farmland to forest. Plants used by SWD included both cultivars such as raspberries and wild types such as salmonberry. The study suggests that wild plants serve as a key reservoir for populations of SWD that then disperse to fruit crops so control likely must extend beyond farm fields.

The wasp Ganaspis brasiliensis is one of two species of parasitoid wasp species, native to Asia, that has arrived in Washington state and British Columbia, Canada, and been found to be successfully parasitizing the invasive fruit fly known as spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii). (Photo by Matthew L. Buffington, Ph.D., U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Systematic Entomology Laboratory. Image originally published in Buffington and Forshage 2016, Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington)

The United States Department of Agriculture recently approved use of G. brasiliensis as a control agent, with releases planned for this year. L. japonica is under consideration as well. Both wasps have been introduced in a few other parts of the world where SWD also has shown up, but not extensively.

Although it all bodes well for fruit growers, there could be a hitch because the majority of the parasitism observed occurred after SWD infested fruit, says one of the researchers, Paul Abram, PhD., of the federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

“We do not yet know exactly how this delay between infestation and parasitism will play out in terms of its effect on biological control efficacy, and we still need to verify that this is a consistent feature of the system in multiple years,” he says. “Theoretically, it can allow the pest to stay one step ahead of the biological control agent as they move between different fruiting plants over the course of the season and start reproducing in a new time and place before the parasitoids’ impact sets in. We are planning experiments for the upcoming field season where we directly test the population dynamics consequences of delayed parasitoid arrival on pest suppression.”

Pest managers must act fast to control SWD, which strikes fruit just as it is about to ripen, unlike other fruit flies that prefer damaged fruit and fruit well past ripening. Worse, SWD hits fruit with a one-two punch: first when the female’s serrated ovipositor penetrates the skin of the fruit and again when the white larvae hatch and start feeding while hidden inside the fruit, impervious to treatment.

Spotted-wing drosophila was introduced in North America in 2008. The parasitoids arrived, presumably by accident, in British Columbia within the past five years or so. Ganaspis brasiliensis was discovered last year in Washington State just over the Canadian border in wild blackberries. Leptopilina japonica showed up in Washington the year before in a trap set to catch the much-ballyhooed hornet Vespa mandarinia. Both probably belong to the same populations north of the border.

Whether the wasps were interacting with SWD in North America as they did in their original home was not previously clear, which was the motivation behind the study. More work is necessary before the full impact of the wasps can be determined. Control of mobile pests like SWD requires management over a large landscape against a known ecological background. Researchers need to learn more about the level of parasitism in and out of cultivated areas and how the wasps interact with the fly’s seasonal ecological relationships and its population dynamics. Beyond that, the ability of the wasps to tolerate climatic conditions outside of the study area is an open question, requiring years of additional sampling to answer.

Read More

Adventive Larval Parasitoids Reconstruct Their Close Association with Spotted-Wing Drosophila in the Invaded North American Range

Environmental Entomology

Ed Ricciuti is a journalist, author, and naturalist who has been writing for more than a half century. His latest book is called Bears in the Backyard: Big Animals, Sprawling Suburbs, and the New Urban Jungle (Countryman Press, June 2014). His assignments have taken him around the world. He specializes in nature, science, conservation issues, and law enforcement. A former curator at the New York Zoological Society, and now at the Wildlife Conservation Society, he may be the only man ever bitten by a coatimundi on Manhattan’s 57th Street.

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Armyworms inactive despite rain, cool front

Bart Dreesbart-drees-fallarmyworm.jpg

Fall armyworms can be devastating to hayfields and pastures due to their appetite for green grass crops.

Texas Crop and Weather Report – June 2, 2022

Adam Russell | Jun 03, 2022


Texas forage producers are facing high fertilizer prices, but Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts do not expect they will face an early outbreak of fall armyworms.

David Kerns, AgriLife Extension state integrated pest management specialist and professor in the Department of Entomology, said recent weather has not created conditions for the early migration of the devastating pest experienced in 2021.

Populations typically build following large rain events and cooler weather. But Kerns said there is no indication that armyworm populations are building in southern areas of the state following recent weather systems that dropped temperatures and delivered moisture.

Fall armyworms’ name is indicative of their active season, but cool, wet weather can trigger outbreaks, Kern said. Populations of armyworms, which are extremely damaging to forage production, typically begin increasing sometime between July and September.

“Fall armyworms typically build up in southeastern Texas, and the moths move northward throughout the eastern half of the state,” he said. “Last year, with all the spring and summer rains, that buildup occurred earlier than usual, but conditions are much drier this year despite the recent storm fronts.”


No reports of armyworms so far

Fall armyworms are green with brown or black colorations and can be identified by the white inverted Y on their head. They can grow up to 1 inch in length when mature.

The pest got its name because they appear to march army-like across hay fields, consuming the grass in their path.

Armyworm moths can lay up to 2,000 eggs that hatch in two to three days, according to a 2019 report by Allen Knutson, AgriLife Extension entomologist, retired.

Vanessa Corriher-Olson, AgriLife Extension forage specialist, Overton, said there are four to five generations that move throughout the state per growing season. They typically move north from Mexico and South Texas as temperatures warm in the spring. Generations will push further north into midwestern states, but moths and larvae remain present throughout the state.

Drier, hotter conditions slow their life cycles, Corriher-Olson said. Moths lay fewer eggs and caterpillar growth is slowed. But rainfall and cooler temperatures can trigger major infestations when local populations, new hatches and migrating moths descend on areas with quality food sources.

Corriher-Olson said continued drier conditions overall in southern parts of the state are likely to curb any early issues forage producers may have experienced in 2021.

“I have not received any reports or phone calls, and that tells me populations in areas where the armyworm migration begins have not reached any level of concern,” she said.

No problem until there is a problem

Corriher-Olson said producers typically react to fall armyworm outbreaks when they occur, which has led to product availability issues during the pandemic. She noted, however, that she had not received any reports about insecticide shortages to date.

“Many producers take a reactionary approach to armyworms because of the expense,” she said. “Some producers may have products on hand that are left over from last year, but most are going to be monitoring the situation to their south and plan accordingly.”

Kerns said conditions may not be shaping up for armyworms at this point in the forage production season, but producers with Sudan grass, hay grazer and other forages related to sorghum should be on the lookout for sorghum aphids, also known as sugarcane aphids.

While armyworms prefer wetter, cooler weather, sorghum aphids prefer hot, dry conditions, he said. There have been reports of the aphids in grain sorghum fields in South Texas.

Aphids feed on leaves and leave a sap that further damages the plant, and major infestations can greatly impact forage yields.

Corriher-Olson said forage pests like fall armyworms and aphids are always a threat to producers’ bottom lines, but yield losses could magnify their impact on budgets due to higher input costs, especially fertilizer applications.

Many forage producers are forgoing or reducing fertilizer applications, which could impact where infestations build, she said. Fall armyworms will settle on any green pasture, but they prefer lush, fertilized forages.

“Fertilized fields are more at risk to be damaged,” she said. “So, when it comes to armyworms, we don’t want to see a producer spend money to produce quality forage and have armyworms destroy it.”

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:


The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Districts


Rainfall amounts were from 1.5-3 inches. The rains helped the soil moisture profile, but more rain was needed to fill stock tanks. There was very little green grass in pastures. Wheat harvest continued in the little bit of wheat worth combining. Yield reports ranged from 3-25 bushels per acre. Supplemental hay feeding of cattle continued.


Southern parts of the area reported showers that produced trace amounts to 2 inches of rain. Crops with irrigation looked good, but dryland producers were concerned about crop losses. Cotton benefitted the most from rain, but more moisture will be needed to see good yields. Corn and grain sorghum were drying down and any moisture would probably only help with the kernel weight. Rangeland and pastures showed a slight color change with rain, but not much growth occurred, and conditions remained poor to fair. Livestock were still in a decline and receiving supplemental feed. Hay supplies were dwindling. More cattle producers were weaning early and culling out poor producing cows. Cattle market prices remained high.


Recent rains helped, but soils dried quickly. Pasture and rangeland conditions were fair. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were short to adequate. Hay production continued. Yields were much lower than normal as producers reduced fertilizer applications due to higher input costs. Harrison County reported problematic fly populations. Livestock were in fair to good condition.   


Producers received another significant rainfall shower this week across the county. Rainfall totals ranged from 0.5 inches to 2 inches. Some large hail was also mixed with the heavier rain. Cooler temperatures helped conditions. Rain was in the forecast. Cotton planting was in full swing with about 80% of acres planted so far. More rain will be needed for decent cotton, corn and sorghum yields. Pumpkin farmers started planting. Cattle were being supplementally fed. The recent rainfall helped pastures a little.


Soil moisture conditions were very short to short. Recent rains helped irrigated crops like wheat, corn and cotton some. Earlier planted corn was up and growing, but some silage corn plantings were still on hold. Cotton was already planted or going in, but producers were not optimistic about yields. Rangeland and pasture conditions improved, but much more rain will be needed to sustain a green-up. Overall, rangeland and pasture conditions remained poor, and crop conditions were poor to fair.


Soil moisture ranged from adequate to short. Warmer temperatures and higher wind speeds dried up soil moisture. Corn, cotton and soybeans were doing well. Early planted corn was tasseling. The wheat harvest began, and fields looked good. No widespread insect or disease pressure was reported. Pasture and rangeland conditions were fair to good and had improved slightly following recent rainfall. The first hay harvests of Bermuda grass, ryegrass, Bahia grass or oats were cut and rolled without issue this year. This was the first early forage harvest in the past few years not delayed by rainfall or wet conditions. Cattle were in good to excellent condition. Horn and stable flies were increasing significantly, and horseflies and deerflies were worsening. Spring calves appeared to be gaining well. Supplemental feeding continued for livestock and wildlife, and forage quality looked poor. Rainfall will be necessary for continued forage production. Some hay producers were considering transitioning pastures to native forage production due to lack of rain and increased fertilizer costs.


Weather was variable. A cold front dropped temperatures into the 40s and brought rainfall, hail and dust storms that took visibility to zero, but temperatures quickly returned to the 90s. A very narrow band of storms left trace amounts of rain up to 1.5 inches. Hail damage to farm equipment, barns, trees and residences was severe. Emerged cotton was hailed out. Cotton, especially Pima fields, looked good in other areas. Corn continued to make progress, but heat was starting to take its toll. Melons looked good and were making good progress. Pecan trees were coming along nicely and set a good crop. Some pecan nut casebearer pressure was reported. Alfalfa looked decent. Pastures remained completely bare. Cattle conditions continued to worsen, and some ranchers completed weaning.


Thunderstorms delivered from 1.5-3 inches of rainfall to most areas. Forages perked up with the moisture, but temperatures in the 90s and windy days could impact moisture retention. Some farmers harvested wheat last week, but yields were poor. Cotton outlooks were looking slim as well. Herd liquidation was slowly happening. Some producers with hay chose to feed through drought, but many were selling off their herds. An ongoing wildfire near Abilene was under control, but not before it burned 10,900 acres.


Heavy rains helped soil moisture levels. Some hay was cut, and rice was fertilized. Forages were growing and producers in several areas cut their first hay crop with no pests reported. Rains slowed crop planting in some areas. Rice planting was not complete. Some areas remained dry and reported declining pasture, rangeland and crop conditions. Rangeland and pastures ranged from very poor to excellent condition. Soil moisture levels were short to surplus.


Some areas received 0.75-3 inches of rain. The rainfall helped alleviate the drought stress for crops that survived to this point. Hot temperatures persisted and pastures looked overgrazed. Wheat and oat harvests were complete with below-average yields reported.  Irrigated corn looked good, and cotton was doing well. Producers eased up on supplemental feeding due to the recent rains, but pasture conditions continued to decline in drier areas. Mesquite spraying was underway. Diet supplementation continued for livestock and wildlife, and forage production looked poor. Irrigated hay fields were in good condition.


Moisture levels in northern areas were very short, while eastern and western areas reported short to adequate soil moisture. Southern areas reported adequate to surplus moisture. Most areas reported rainfall with amounts ranging from 0.3-8 inches. Pastures and rangelands responded well to the moisture. Livestock conditions were improving and producers were decreasing supplemental feed. Cattle prices remained strong. Cattle producers in drier areas continued to provide supplemental feed to maintain body condition scores. Producers who planted hay grazer before the rains were expecting good growth. Significant rain missed croplands in northern parts of the district. Row crops and forages in areas that received rain were expected to improve significantly. Irrigated crops like watermelons, cantaloupes and Bermuda grass looked good. Cotton was expected to respond well to the moisture. Flooding and hail damaged some crops. Hail damaged around 5,000 acres of grain, sesame, sunflowers, watermelons and corn. Sorghum aphid pressure increased, and weeds were becoming an issue as fields were too wet to spray.

Source: is AgriLife TODAY, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.


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Risky grape pest found in Pope Valley

Western Grapeleaf Skeletonizer found in Napa County

On May 12, insect trapper Jesse Guidi discovered a single adult Western Grapeleaf Skeletonizer in an insect trap near Dollarhide Road, Pope Valley. That is why Napa County Agricultural Commissioner Tracy Cleveland is asking growers and gardeners to watch for all larval stages of this moth.

Cleveland: “This is a destructive and serious pest. All larval life stages are voracious feeders that cause extensive damage to grape leaves, including partial or complete defoliation of grapevines. Excessive feeding can damage fruit and lead to secondary fungal damage. We do not want this pest to become established in Napa County.”

Although the pest is not native to Napa County, it has been found here a number of times in the past, most recently in the same area adjacent to Tubbs Lane in June 2018. Native to Arizona and New Mexico, it was first discovered in California in the 1940s and eventually spread throughout the state, particularly in the Central Valley.

Damage caused by the Western Grapeleaf Skeletonizer is relatively easy to detect. When it feeds on grapevines, it leaves only the veins behind, producing a very distinctive, lacy skeletal appearance.

Publication date: Wed 25 May 2022

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Blueberry Rust in Western Australia

(Image: Department of Primary Industries and
Regional Development – Agriculture and Food, Western Australia)

The fungus Thekopsora minima causes blueberry rust. It is a serious disease that can cause extensive defoliation and occasional plant death. It is present in most Australian states where industry manage or prevent infection by good farm biosecurity and applying crop management practices that suppress fungal growth.

Blueberry rust found in multiple WA locations

In April 2022 it was found in multiple locations in WA including the Perth metropolitan area, Manjimup, and Swan View. Suspect detections in Bunbury, Busselton, and Kalgoorlie have also been reported to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). It is a declared pest under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007. This means you may not move, sell, or supply plants infected with blueberry rust to others.

Not technically feasible to eradicate

Due to its spread in WA and the factors outlined below, the Department considers it is not technically feasible for the blueberry industry and government to eradicate blueberry rust from WA.

  • High dispersal potential, including spores carried on the wind for long distances.
  • Pest biology favours spread and establishment, making it very difficult to contain.
  • The southwest WA climate is well suited for establishment and spread.
  • Blueberry production in WA is mostly evergreen varieties, providing a green-bridge for rust development.
  • Spread into urban areas would be difficult to detect, eradicate or contain.
  • No reports of successful eradication or containment in Australia or overseas.
  • Chemical controls suppress blueberry rust but do not eradicate it.

Blueberry rust is extremely infective

Blueberry rust is spread via spores carried by wind from infected plants, directly by people wearing contaminated clothing, on equipment that has been in contact with infected blueberries or by introducing infected plants. Young leaves are most vulnerable to rust infection. Rain events can trigger the release of spores and favour infection by increasing the humidity. Leaf wetness, due to rain and dew, provide conditions which assist in the severity of the disease.  Mild temperatures favour spore production and infection with temperatures between 19–25°C highly favourable. The latent period from infection to the observation of symptoms can be 10 days at 20°C for susceptible varieties. Infection leads to premature leaf drop and these leaves play a role in the ongoing disease cycle.


Fungicides control blueberry rust but do not eradicate it. Management is best if fungicides are applied in a preventative manner, prior to conditions that favour infection. The best time to apply preventative fungicides will vary according to variety grown and weather conditions.

Help to identify blueberry rust

Unsure if you have blueberry rust? Use the MyPestGuide® Reporter app to send a photograph to DPIRD. A specialist will examine your photograph and send you a diagnosis.

Refer to https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/pests-weeds-diseases/mypestguide for details on using the MyPestGuide Reporter app.

Changing pest status in Western Australia

In accordance with national and international biosecurity agreements, the Department intends to update the status of blueberry rust in WA to ‘present’ and revoke its declared pest status.

What this means for industry

Removal of import and quarantine restrictions

Where a pest is present and not under eradication or official control, there is no justification for WA import restrictions.

As host plant material and agricultural machinery used in association with hosts are restricted entry into WA based on the absence of blueberry rust, the Department will also revoke specific import restrictions for these items.

Domestic market access

As WA is not free of blueberry rust, host material sent to sensitive markets will need to meet the import requirements as set by the importing authority.

For further information regarding movement and treatment requirements, please see https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/exporting-animals/quarantine-export-restrictions

Management of blueberry rust

The Department will support industry to adopt effective management practices for blueberry rust. This support includes advice on good farm biosecurity and crop management practices that help prevent or reduce blueberry rust infection.

These include:

  • Restrict access to your property. Ensure visitors and equipment come in and go out clean.
  • Prune to create an open canopy. This helps leaves dry faster and reduces humidity and the number of possible rust infections.
  • Monitor your plants regularly: the earlier you can remove infected material, the more likely you will be to keep the rust at a manageable level.
  • Implement a good farm/nursery biosecurity plan.
  • Avoid overhead watering.

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Black Fig Fly: A New Invasive Pest in California


Black fig fly (Silba adipata) is a specialized pest of figs native to the Mediterranean region and first reported in the U.S. in 2021, in southern California. This fly is a threat to commercial fig production, and while little is known about it, researchers are now working to improve our knowledge of black fig fly ecology and management. Here, an adult female black fig fly is shown depositing eggs into the ostiole of a fig fruit. (Photo by Houston Wilson, Ph.D.)

By Valeh Ebrahimi, Ph.D., Kadie Britt, Ph.D., and Houston Wilson, Ph.D.

Houston Wilson, Ph.D.

Kadie Britt, Ph.D.

Valeh Ebrahimi, Ph.D.

There is always alarm when a new invasive pest makes its way into the United States. Several invasive flies have caused concern in the past, including Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata), olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae), and spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii). The newest fly pest of concern in California is the black fig fly (Silba adipata), a species that exclusively feeds and reproduces on figs.

Black fig fly is originally from the Mediterranean region and can currently be found throughout southern Europe, north Africa, and the Middle East. More recently, the black fig fly was found infesting figs in South Africa (2007), Mexico (2020), and now southern California (2021). California produces close to 100 percent of the U.S. fig crop. Luckily, the fly has not yet been recovered in the Central Valley, where a majority of commercial fig acreage is located. Following detection in Mexico, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service placed additional restrictions on the importation of fresh figs from Mexico to the United States.

In a new article published in April in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management, our team at the University of California, Riverside, and UC Cooperative Extension detail current knowledge of black fig fly biology and management and efforts underway to better understand how to respond to this new invasive species.

Black fig fly (Silba adipata) is originally from the Mediterranean region and can currently be found throughout southern Europe, north Africa, and the Middle East. More recently, the black fig fly was found infesting figs in South Africa (2007), Mexico (2020), and now southern California (2021). Shown here is an adult male. (Photo by Martin Hauser, Ph.D.)

Black fig fly is a small, glossy black fly with reddish eyes and brown legs, approximately 3.5 to 4.5 millimeters long. Adults are known to feed on sap from overripe fig fruits and have shown a strong preference for the milky latex secretions coming from fruits. Females have a long, sharp ovipositor that aids deposition of egg clusters in the ostiole of fig fruits, and they appear to strongly prefer unripe fig fruits.

Larvae emerge from eggs inside of the fig and feed on internal fruit tissue, causing damage that can lead to premature fruit drop from trees. When ready, larvae make their way out of the fruit (causing a characteristic small exit hole), drop to the soil, and pupate. Pupae are the overwintering stage and in spring they emerge, mate, and begin to attack figs. Black fig fly is multivoltine and can have between four and six generations per year under a Mediterranean climate.

Adult black fig fly populations can be monitored using a McPhail-type trap baited with either torula yeast or a combination of 2 percent ammonium sulfate and hexanol. Following local reports of infestation in southern California, traps were deployed in a few locations in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in 2021. Both lures were successful at attracting and capturing adult black fig fly.

fig damage
fig damage
fig with black fig fly exit hole
McPhail trap

There is very little current information on natural enemies. One study reported parasitization of black fig fly pupae by the wasp Pachycrepoideus vindemmiae, but implications for biological control in commercial orchards remains unclear, as this is a generalist parasitoid that attacks more than 60 different species across Europe and North America.

For now, and in the near future, orchard sanitation is critical and any dropped fruits should be removed and destroyed due to potential larval infestation. Currently, recommendations for chemical control are very limited. Even so, larvae are the damaging stage, and targeting them can be tough due to protection from the outer covering of the fig fruit. Insecticide baits may have greater management potential but have not been evaluated yet in California.

Information regarding general biology and phenology of black fig fly in California is currently unclear, including total number of generations per year, current geographic distribution and potential for spread, minimum and maximum temperature thresholds, and degree-day requirements across life stages. As data are generated to address these unknowns, we will have the ability to better predict the potential spread of this pest in California, as well as timing of key phenological events. More broadly, these data can be used to determine a more comprehensive risk assessment for the major fig production regions in the Central Valley, as well as areas where black fig fly has already established. For instance, one key goal would be to estimate the timing of adult emergence and possible infestation events relative to development and availability of new fig fruits.

Over the next year, data on the developmental biology of black fig fly will be generated and then used to model the potential geographic range of this invasive pest. Additionally, we plan to evaluate various trap and lure types to optimize monitoring protocols, fully delineate the current spread of this pest, and evaluate the efficacy of chemical controls, including materials approved for organic production.

In late summer of 2021, we visited fig growers in southern California and saw firsthand the damage that black fig fly can cause. This pest is particularly challenging because it is rarely evident where a female has laid eggs or where a larva is present inside of the fig. By the time infestation is evident, fig fruits have usually already fallen from the tree. As such, improving monitoring protocols is one of our highest priorities. Black fig fly will continue to be an issue for fig growers in southern California for the foreseeable future, but research is underway to address some of the most pressing questions.

Read More

First Report of Black Fig Fly, Silba adipata (Diptera: Lonchaeidae), in the United States

Journal of Integrated Pest Management

Valeh Ebrahimi, Ph.D., and Kadie E. Britt, Ph.D., are postdoctoral scholars in the lab of Houston Wilson, Ph.D., assistant cooperative extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Riverside. Valeh is located on the UC Riverside campus and Kadie and Houston are located off campus at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, California. Twitter: @EbrahimiValeh@kadiehemp, and @treecrops. Email: valehe@ucr.edukadieb@ucr.edu, and houston.wilson@ucr.edu.

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