Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Insects’ Category

Korea Herald

Fire ants found in Korea belong to American species: ministry

By Yonhap

  • Published : Oct 10, 2017 – 13:24
  • Updated : Oct 10, 2017 – 14:32
Red fire ants found in the southern port of Busan are presumed to be identical to a species in the United States, but further inspection is needed to figure out their exact origin, South Korea’s quarantine authority said Tuesday.

Twenty-five fire ants were discovered in a storage container at Busan’s Gamman port Sept. 28, and a nest capable of accommodating 1,000 was also found, raising alarm that the highly invasive insects were inadvertently brought into the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it has conducted emergency quarantine measures and stepped up monitoring to prevent further spread, noting it did not find other ants in the 34 ports and two inland container depots examined so far.

Park Bong-gyun, the chief of the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, briefs on red ants at a government building in Sejong on Oct. 10, 2017. (Yonhap)

Although the remains of a queen ant were not found, the ministry tentatively concluded that it already died based on the size and scope of the colony discovered in the cracked asphalt.

“Red fire ants are generally found in the United States, but they have since spread to China, Australia and Japan, giving birth to special genetic variations as they evolve in their new environment,” Park Bong-gyun, the chief of the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, said in a briefing.

“It is premature to say the red fire ants came from the US at this point, as an in-depth epidemiological inspection into their variation is needed to figure out their origin.”

Gamman port received containers from six nations between May and September — China, Japan, Taiwan, the US, Australia and Malaysia — with 60 percent coming from China, the ministry said.

Quarantine officials will continue to sterilize the area within a 100-meter radius of the container depot until next week and conduct inspections on the pavement and other areas.

The ministry said it will work with other related organizations to regularly monitor and inspect major ports to prevent the inflow of red fire ants. (Yonhap)

Read Full Post »

Machine Learning Helps Small Farmers Identify Plant Pests And Diseases

A new app aims to help smallholder farmers fight pests and diseases that are killing their crops.

Machine Learning Helps Small Farmers Identify Plant Pests And Diseases
[Photo: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg/Getty Images]

The world’s 500 million smallholder farmers have a new weapon in their never-ending fight against pests and plant diseases: an app called Plantix. By uploading pictures of affected crops to the mobile service, they can quickly diagnose unwanted funguses and insects and get ideas about how to deal with infestations before they get out of control. Three years after launch, the app is being used more than 1 million times a month, particularly in India, Brazil, and North Africa.

[Photo: courtesy Plantix]

In Africa, the current number-one enemy pest is the fall armyworm–so-called because it marches like an advanced military unit, eating everything in its path. The colorful caterpillars are munching through maize, sorghum, rice, and legume fields in 24 countries. If farmers don’t react in time–for example by spraying with the appropriate pesticides–economic losses could reach more than $5 billion this year, estimates show.The UN Food & Agricultural Organization says 20% to 40% of all global crops are lost each year because of plant pests and diseases that aren’t managed properly. Developed by a small team in Germany, Plantix offers guidance to farmers who don’t have the privilege of human consultants.

https://www.fastcompany.com/embed/uATcLOJZ?playerID=G2hQKLvX

“There’s a huge gap between agricultural consultancy and people’s needs on the ground in emerging countries,” says Korbinian Hartberger, one of four cofounders of PEAT, the startup that develops the free-to-use app. “There’s a lot more demand than what’s on offer. They can’t wait for someone to come along two months [after the infestation] and say, ‘yes, I think you should have sprayed this.’”

The Android interface is simple but makes use of sophisticated machine learning technology working in the background. PEAT has trained its algorithms using thousands of pictures of affected plants, allowing the app to recognize telltale patterns as farmers upload new pictures. They’re currently sending in about 5,000 pictures a day and the app is able to recognize up to 400 diseases or pests. The most common include soya bean and wheat rust, powdery and downy mildews, and aphids, Hartberger says.

As well as automated image recognition, the app also features community forums, where users help each other diagnose problems from uploaded photos. About 200,000 users are actively using the service, according to the startup.

PEAT was initially funded through a grant from the German government and it doesn’t generate revenue currently. Hartberger says that could change in the future. For instance, the system could be adapted for use in aerial drones or on-the-ground robots, or it could help connect farmers with sellers of agricultural products. Currently, it suggests generic pesticides, but not brand names.

“People may use more pesticides [after using the app], but they’re less likely to use the wrong pesticides. Our contribution is to smallholders with fast and reliable information, so they’re not just going to shop and asking the guy behind the counter for advice. It gives them something more specific they can work with,” Hartberger says.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

More

Read Full Post »

USDA APHIS ITP’s web-based tool, Antkey

The team is pleased to announce the latest addition to our mobile app collection: Antkey Mobile. Developed in cooperation with the tool’s author, Eli Sarnat, and Australia’s Identic team, this app is based on ITP’s

Lucid Mobile apps offer you the identification keys you’ve come to rely on from the convenience of your smartphone or tablet. Antkey Mobile (free for Android or iOS) allows you to take your Lucid key with you into the field for surveys and screening, even if your field site lacks internet access.

This key allows both specialists and novices to easily identify invasive, introduced, and commonly intercepted ant species from across the globe. You can help confirm whether you have found the correct species by comparing your specimen with the images and descriptions on the fact sheets, which are included for each species.

Antkey Mobile is one of 13 apps ITP has developed for use in field identification of plant pests and diseases. Please visit http://idtools.org to see all of ITP’s apps or to learn more about ITP. For technical questions about Lucid Mobile, please contact Identic (enquiries@lucidcentral.org) or visit their website. For questions or comments about this or any of ITP’s other mobile apps, please contact Amanda Redford (itp@usda.gov).Antkey

Read Full Post »

KMA land

Monarch migration set to pass through KMAland

Monarch Butterfly
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

(Omaha) — As millions of monarch butterflies prepare to migrate through the heart of the United States, scientists remain concerned about the species’ dwindling population.

At their peak, over one billion monarchs made the 3,000-mile trek through KMAland to a forest in Mexico for the winter. As recently as four years ago, the monarch population making that trek had fallen to an estimated 30 million, although that number has rebounded slightly in the last few years. Creighton University Entomologist Dr. Theodore Burk has been studying the butterfly for nearly 20 years. He says it’s truly a unique species.

“The monarch has an absolutely unique biology,” said Burk. “It’s the only species of insect that makes this kind of migration. They’re beautiful; everybody grew up in school raising monarch caterpillars. They are a tremendous poster child.”

  Monarch’s primary food source is milkweed, which typically grows in the Corn Belt. In addition to food, monarchs use milkweed as a place to lay eggs. One of the reasons for a decline in the population has been an increase in pesticide and insecticides that reduce milkweed plants. Burk says education is key to re-establishing milkweed.

“Something over half of all the food base of monarchs has been eliminated just because of this change in American agricultural,” said Burk. “A lot of the efforts that people have been engaged in during the last few years has been to plant more milkweed.”

While on their migration, monarchs also rely on thistle flowers to get them through until Mexico. Burk says some species of thistle are required to be removed by law because they are a noxious weed, further decreasing food for the monarch.

  “Where I study the monarchs on the prairies, I have records of about 1,500 flower visits by monarchs to flowers and more than half of them are to one particular species of tall thistle,” says Burk. “In our part of the world — at least the few hundred miles that they pass through here — that is a really key resource to help get them to Mexico.”

Burk has been studying the butterfly since 1998. He spends 20 weeks each year at Glacier Creek Preserve northwest of Omaha studying and documenting monarchs and their plant preferences

 

Read Full Post »

the hindu logo

By: Rohit Girotra

August 08, 2017

Listen for a flutter of wings

butterfly 1

The Bangalore Butterfly Club has rediscovered many species including one that was believed to have been extinct for the past 120 years

Can you recollect how many species of butterflies you have seen? Two? Three probably 10? Can you believe there are 175 species of butterflies in Bangalore. The common butterflies that can be sighted are Common Emigrant, Common Grass Yellow, Common Crow, Common leopard, Pioneer and Lemon Pansy. Thanks to Bengaluru’s temperate climate we have diverse plants, which in turn supports butterfly diversity too.

Ashok Sengupta, Haneesh KM, Nitin Ravikanthachari and Rohit Girotra formed the Bangalore Butterfly Club in 2012 to share information on butterflies. We were in touch over email and social media and would regularly trade information. However, we were working as individuals. Things took a turn when Krushnamegh Kunte of National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) moved to Bengaluru from Boston. He mooted the idea of citizen science in the butterfly domain and the important role it could play in a better understanding of butterflies in India.

butterfly 2

With all this activity, a need for a cohesive platform to talk about and share information on butterflies of Karnataka was felt. The social media explosion came as a blessing. Ashok started the BBC Facebook group and Nitin started the BBC WhatsApp group.

This group has been responsible in rediscovering many species of butterflies in Bangalore. In 2012, the Lilac Silverline, which was thought to be extinct, was rediscovered, after a gap of nearly 120 years, near Hessarghatta lake in Bengaluru. Nitin Ravikanthachari made the discovery. In the six years since this club was formed, 23 new species have been added to the The Bangalore Butterfly list compiled by Karthikeyan Srinivasan. The club wishes to educate and inform citizens of the importance of these beautiful insects. From a team of four, BBC today boasts of more than 400 members.

Along with creating awareness about the butterflies of Karnataka via social media platforms, BBC also conducts field walks to educate members and newcomers about butterflies, collect information, and collaborate with the forest department in conducting surveys, workshops, and other conservation related activities.

butterfly 3

The club organises fortnightly walks and counts at Doresanipalya Research Station Campus, Bangalore University, Hennur Forest, and Hessarghatta Lake. The other butterfly hotspots include Camp Gee Dee (in Shivanahalli), Valley School grounds (on Kanakapura road), and Savandurga.

On a three-hour walk in any of the hotspots, one can easily see around 40 to 50 species of butterflies. This number varies depending on the seasons. Post-monsoon is usually a great time to see more number of species. A typical butterfly walk starts at 9 am and is attended on an average by 10-15 people. We encourage people to join these walks to interact with the experts and see the butterflies in nature. The walks are free of charge and all you need to bring along is your enthusiasm.

butterfly 4

Most of the members contribute photographs to the Butterflies of India initiative. This initiative is the brainchild of Kunte and is a collaborative effort by butterfly enthusiasts from all over India, to create a nation-wide, peer-reviewed database.

What we need is active participation from Bangaloreans. With more people willing to take up responsibilities, we can expand our scope. Interested folks can get in touch with BBC by dropping a mail to rohitashwa18@gmail.com to participate in fortnightly walks and the associated activities.

 

 

Read Full Post »

bbc-blocks-dark

News

Caterpillars turned into ‘exploding zombies’ by bug

Caterpillar skinImage copyright Dr Chris Miller
Image caption Dr Miller said he found small scraps of caterpillar skin on branches

Caterpillars are being killed by a bug which turns them into “exploding zombies”, a wildlife expert has said.

Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside Wildlife Trust said the skins of insects have been found on Winmarleigh Moss, near Garstang.

The baculovirus drives caterpillars on a “death march” to the top of plants, then when it dies the bug bursts out to seek other victims.

The trust’s Dr Chris Miller said it was “gruesome – like a zombie horror film”.

CaterpillarImage copyright Anne Burgess
Image caption Dr Miller said it was really unusual seeing caterpillars high up

Dr Miller was carrying out a butterfly survey on Winmarleigh Moss when he noticed a caterpillar hanging from the end of a branch of a small bush.

He then saw another one hanging from a tall blade of grass.

“Both were dead but otherwise intact,” he said.

Dr Miller also noticed “small scraps of caterpillar skin” on other branches he checked.

He said research is showing that the baculovirus affects the way the “zombie” insects respond to light, “making them climb to higher and more dangerous places and when they get there they die”.

“It is really unusual seeing caterpillars high up as they can be eaten by birds.

“This is a caterpillar of the oak eggar moth which eats heather and bilberry so it is normally hidden in the undergrowth, not at the top of plants.”

Grey line
Oak eggar mothsImage copyright Alan Prics
Image caption Oak eggar moths have an “acorn-like cocoon”

Oak eggar moths

  • They are named oak eggar because of their “acorn-like cocoon”
  • They grow into reddish brown moths
  • Males fly during the day

Source: Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside Wildlife Trust

Read Full Post »

Feed

 

larval helicoverpa CSIRO
Genomes mapped for global megapests cotton bollworm and corn earworm.

Aug 01, 2017

For the first time, researchers with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) have mapped the complete genome of two closely related “megapests,” potentially saving the international agricultural community billions of dollars a year.

Led by CSIRO in collaboration with a team of renowned experts, the researchers identified more than 17,000 protein coding genes in the genomes of the Helicoverpa armigera and Helicoverpa zea, commonly known as the cotton bollworm and corn earworm, respectively).

They also documented how these genetics have changed overtime.

This level of detail makes it easier for scientists to predict weak spots in both of the caterpillars, how they will mutate and even breed plants that they will not want to eat.

The bollworm and earworm are the world’s greatest caterpillar pests of broad-acre crops, causing in excess of $5 billion (U.S.) in control costs and damage each year across Asia, Europe, Africa, America and Australia.

The bollworm, which is dominant in Australia, attacks more crops and develops much more resistance to pesticides than its earworm counterpart.

“It is the single most important pest of agriculture in the world, making it humanity’s greatest competitor for food and fiber,” CSIRO scientist Dr. John Oakeshott said. “Its genomic arsenal has allowed it to outgun all our known insecticides through the development of resistance, reflecting its name, ‘armigera,’ which means armed and warlike.”

In Brazil, the bollworm has been spreading rapidly, and there have been cases of of it hybridizing with the earworm, posing a real threat that the new and improved “superbug” could spread into the U.S.

In the mid-1990s, in an attempt to tackle the bollworm, CSIRO assisted Australian cotton breeders with incorporating Bt insect resistance genes in their varieties. Bt cotton plants dispatch an insecticide from the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacteria that is toxic to the caterpillar. In the following 10 years, there was an 80% reduction in the use of chemical pesticides previously required to control bollworms.

However, the bollworm soon fought back: A small percentage of them built resistance to Bt cotton, and scientists introduced further strains of insecticides to manage the problem.

CSIRO health and biosecurity honorary fellow Dr. Karl Gordon said while a combination of Bt and some insecticides was working well in Australia, it can be costly, so it was important to comprehensively study the pests themselves to manage the problem worldwide.

“We need the full range of agricultural science,” Gordon said. “Our recent analyses of the complete genome, its adaptations and spread over the years are a huge step forward in combating these megapests.”

Identifying pest origins will enable resistance profiling that reflects the countries of origin to be included when developing a resistance management strategy while identifying incursion pathways will improve biosecurity protocols and risk analysis at biosecurity hot spots, including national ports, CSIRO said.

As part of the research, CSIRO and the team updated a previously developed potential distribution model to highlight the global invasion threat, with an emphasis on the risks to the U.S.

The findings further provide the first solid foundation for comparative evolutionary and functional genomic studies on related and other lepidopteran pests, many of which have considerable impact and scientific interest.

The genome project was undertaken by CSIRO in conjunction with the University of Melbourne, the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, the Max Plank Institute of Chemical Ecology in Germany and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »