Archive for the ‘Monitoring’ Category

Lucidcentral Identification and Diagnostic Tools   Lucid May 2022 Newsletter   Introduction   Last year we released a major Lucid v4 update that allows authors to build new dichotomous keys or to import existing paper-based keys and transform them to online, interactive keys.    A recent example of such a conversion concerns a series of keys to insects and spiders that can be found in rice in West Africa.   The original book in which these keys were published – E A Heinrichs and Alberto T Barrion (2004) Rice-feeding insects and selected natural enemies in West Africa: Biology, ecology, identification, has been out of print for a number of years.    Fortunately a digital copy was published online by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, providing the digital text and figures for the conversion of these keys to  Lucid, and are now hosted on Lucidcentral.    A similar key to rice pests found in S.E. Asia is to be published shortly. This will be one of the largest dichotomous keys we’ve come across: 852 couplets and 1740 leads, covering 862 taxa!   It’s also pleasing to see how many new and diverse keys have just been released. This includes commercial timber identification, sawflies, tropical ferns and lycophytes, Calanoid Copepods, trees of the Diamantina located in Serra do Espinhaço, Brazil, a place recognized by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve, and finally, a key used by police forensic units for the identification of third instar larvae of 12 species of Calliphoridae.   We hope you enjoy reading our latest newsletter.   Regards,   The Lucid Team   Spotlight on Lucid keys supporting plant taxonomy at Missouri Botanical Garden While most Lucid identification keys aim to provide public access to taxonomic and diagnostic expertise (via online and mobile apps), there are situations where Lucid keys can be used to support the taxonomic process itself. This spotlight article illustrates how Lucid is being used by Dr Tom Croat at the Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis, USA to support the taxonomic work of his team, as well as providing an online identification aid.  Tom Croat with 100,000th collection Anthurium centimillissimum photo by Dan Levin  Tom Croat with the 100,000th collection Anthurium centimillissimum photo by Dan Levin. For many years, Tom’s taxonomic work has focussed on the philodendron or aroid family (Araceae). The genera of this family are often large and morphologically challenging, particularly the genus Anthurium, possibly the world’s largest genus with over 3,000 species. As Tom puts it – “Araceae is a family with still thousands of undescribed species: the only way one can deal with such large groups is to use Lucid. Without Lucid, I could not deal with it, since there are now 1650 species in Lucid keys for Anthurium. We also have Lucid Keys for Adelonema, Dieffenbachia, Dracontium, Philodendron and Stenospermation. Current work is on constructing a key for Spathiphyllum”.  Over the years, Tom has collected more than 109,000 herbarium collections, more than 10,000 living plants, and maintains the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of living aroid plants in the Garden’s greenhouses. Lucid matrix keys are initially used as a means of “cataloguing” new species that are introduced to the collection. The major taxonomic features of the living plants, as well as of dried herbarium specimens, are described in detail. The characters (more than 100 in all) are recorded into the existing Lucid Matrix, and new feature/states are added as necessary, together with their respective scores.    With the recent availability of the new dichotomous (pathway) key construction option, that has recently been upgraded and incorporated in the Lucid Builder software, Tom thinks there may be new opportunities here. “Having a Lucid dichotomous key would allow us to prepare keys to separate species in many groups that remain poorly known. While the Lucid matrix key enables us to select species that have already been incorporated into the key, a dichotomous key allows one to decide where a given species needs to be placed that is not already in the key.  Moreover, published revisions are expected to have dichotomous keys that are an integral part of the revision, so a Lucid Key, workable as it might be, will not serve that purpose. Thus, it is important that the Lucid Program should provide a means whereby a dichotomous key can be constructed from the existing taxonomic data stored within it. There are a number of large genera in Araceae, where we have 250 or more species. A dichotomous key allows one to visualize where new elements should fit and then one can decide if it should be fully described and entered into the Lucid matrix key”.  Tom has been in touch with us regarding further ideas he has on how both Lucid matrix and dichotomous keys might be adapted to help in this taxonomic process, which we are looking into. For further information about Tom’s work go to a recent publication – Araceae, a Family with Great Potential February 2019 Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 104(1):3-9      Digital Keys to the Calanoid Copepods Latest keys SawFly GenUS Sawfly GenUS This latest release from the Identification Technology Program (ITP) within the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) includes a wealth of information about sawflies, keys to sawfly genera of North America, as well as keys to Sirex species of the World. https://idtools.org/id/sawfly/BRAZILIAN COMMERCIAL TIMBERS – Interactive wood identification key Brazilian Commercial Timbers – Interactive wood identification key This is an interactive key created to identify timbers commonly traded in Brazil. The identification is based on general characters and macroscopic anatomical features of wood. https://keys.lucidcentral.org/search/madeiras-comerciais-do-brasil/ This key is available in English and Portuguese.Australian Tropical Ferns and Lycophytes Australian Tropical Ferns and Lycophytes Australian Tropical Ferns and Lycophytes is a fern and lycophyte identification and information system for species occurring in northern Australia. https://keys.lucidcentral.org/search/australian-tropical-ferns-and-lycophytes/ Also available as an Android or iOS app. — Keys to the Calanoid Copepods These keys are looking to facilitate the identification of calanoid copepods (adult specimens (males and/or females)) to the level of family in the first instance and to the level of genera for the group of copepods known as the ‘Bradfordians’ and the families Centropagidae, Calanidae and Megacalanidae. Developed by scientists in the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand and CSIRO, Australia. https://keys.lucidcentral.org/search/calanoid-copepods/Tubulifera Australiensis Tubulifera Australiensis In the insect Order Thysanoptera, the suborder Tubulifera includes only a single family of living thrips, the Phlaeothripidae, and this family includes at least 66% of the thrips species known from Australia. This illustrated Lucid identification system helps to distinguish the 150 genera of Phlaeothripidae recorded from Australia. https://keys.lucidcentral.org/search/tubulifera-australiensis/Diamantina trees Diamantina trees Interactive identification key to trees that occur in and around Diamantina. Diamantina is located in Serra do Espinhaço, Brazil, a place recognized by UNESCO as one of the Biosphere Reserves. https://keys.lucidcentral.org/search/diamantina-trees/ — A tool for identifying insects and spiders in West African Rice A tool for identifying insects and spiders in West African Rice Keys to insects found in rice in 17 West African countries provides online help to identify specimens in rice insect collections and collected from the field. These are the first comprehensive taxonomic keys to West African rice arthropods and provide illustrations for 275 species of insects and 69 species of spiders associated with rice agroecosystems https://keys.lucidcentral.org/keys/v4/west_african_rice_insects_and_spiders/nteractive identification key for third instar larvae of Calliphoridae (Insecta, Diptera) of Neotropical forensic importance Interactive identification key for third instar larvae of Calliphoridae (Insecta, Diptera) of Neotropical forensic importance This key was developed to allow the identification of third instar larvae of 12 species of Calliphoridae (Insecta, Diptera, Oestroidea) of forensic importance that can be found in Brazil and in the Neotropical region. It was developed with the aim of helping police experts, students, and various professionals with, who may have limited familiarity with taxonomy, to obtain a safe and reliable diagnosis. https://keys.lucidcentral.org/search/chave-larva-calliphoridae/ This key is available in English and Portuguese.   Software Updates Lucid v4 Lucid v4  A new update of Lucid v4 (4.0.25 20220503) has been released and is available to download via Lucidcentral.org. See the release notes for bug fixes and changes. https://apps.lucidcentral.org/lucid4/updates.html   Download (login required) via: https://www.lucidcentral.org/my-account/downloads/   Fact Sheet Fusion logoA new update of Fact Sheet Fusion will be released at the end of May.   Modify your subscription    |    View online   Lucidcentral.org
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APRIL 18, 2022

Uncovering the spread of coffee leaf rust disease

by University of Tsukuba

Uncovering the spread of coffee leaf rust disease
Credit: raksapon/Shutterstock

Coffee is one of the world’s most popular drinks, yet there are still many unknowns in the coffee-growing business. Now, researchers from Japan have shed new light on the nature of a disease that seriously affects coffee plants.

In a study published this month in Frontiers in Plant Science, researchers from the University of Tsukuba and Ibaraki University have revealed that coffee leaf rust (CLR) disease is widespread in the main coffee-growing regions of Vietnam, the world’s second-largest coffee producer.

Rusts are plant diseases named after the powdery rust- or brown-colored fungal spores found on the surfaces of infected plants. CLR fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, causes CLR disease in Coffea plants—the source of coffee beans. This disease severely affects the plants, resulting in high yield losses and lowering bean quality; developing effective and practical ways of managing the disease is essential for mitigating this problem. The best way to control CLR is by using disease-resistant plant varieties. However, there have been recent reports of CLR outbreaks in coffee-growing regions where rust-resistant varieties are planted.

“To control this disease, we need to understand rust population diversity,” says senior author of the study, Associate Professor Izumi Okane. “We must also identify the genetic variations that underpin it, and anticipate potential future variations.”

To do this, the researchers examined the occurrence of CLR disease in key coffee-producing regions of Vietnam, assessed the current population structure and genetic diversity of the CLR fungus via genetic sequencing, and estimated the geographic region where H. vastatrix first established, as well as its direction of migration between Vietnam’s main coffee-producing areas.

The results showed a high incidence of CLR disease in most of the regions investigated, and that H. vastatrix populations in Vietnam shared a close genetic relationship with several Central and South American populations. The study also uncovered potential starting points and migration routes of H. vastatrix in Vietnam’s coffee-growing regions. The spread of CLR from northern to southern Vietnam revealed that agents other than wind and monsoon were involved in moving spores from an infected region to other areas.

“Our study highlights the need to consider human-mediated activities, because they may quickly accelerate the genetic diversification of rust fungi populations,” explains Associate Professor Okane.

The results of this study have revealed new information on the genetic diversity of H. vastatrix in Vietnam and Central and South America. The researchers’ findings will help to predict the spread of this fungus in the future. Furthermore, seedling sources and human activities have been highlighted as factors that should be considered in the coffee-growing industry for the control of CLR disease.

Explore further

Fungus that eats fungus could help coffee farmers

More information: Cham Thi Mai Le et al, Incidence of Coffee Leaf Rust in Vietnam, Possible Original Sources and Subsequent Pathways of Migration, Frontiers in Plant Science (2022). DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2022.872877

Journal information: Frontiers in Plant Science 

Provided by University of Tsukuba

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Pest counts and action thresholds in the greenhouse

There are essentially three options available when scouting your greenhouse crops for insect/mite pests. 1- No scouting performed with pesticides being applied on a calendar timetable. 2- Simply scouting for pest existence with crop protection applied when presence is observed. 3- Scouting crops and making pesticide application decisions based on pest counts and action thresholds. The third option is part of an integrated pest management (IPM) approach that has been promoted throughout the green industry the past few decades.

Greenhouse pest populations are measured by trapping or direct plant inspection, and both involve determining pest numbers. Counting pests and using action thresholds requires time and knowledge, but results in less pesticide use, reduced potential for insect resistance, and can improve plant quality. It is important to remember that trapping (e.g., yellow, or blue sticky cards) improves the efficiency when scouting your greenhouse but does not replace the actual inspection of individual crop plants. This is particularly the case when scouting for aphids and mites.

Yellow or blue colored sticky traps are used to capture flying insect pests in the greenhouse. The blue traps attract the western flower thrips more effectively. (Photo Credit: Steven K. Rettke, Rutgers Coop. Ext.) 

Benefits of counting pests
The scouting and counting of insects/mites help to detect when they are first present. Therefore, treatments are made before large populations build up, but not before it becomes necessary. Tracking pest numbers over time allows for the use of action thresholds, or when pest density levels threaten crop salability and economic loss. When pest densities and damage are low, it is not efficient to spend 95% of your time controlling the last 5% of the pest.

The use of biological controls (e.g., beneficial insect/mite augmentation) is most effective when applied preventatively & pest numbers are low or have not yet even been observed. When using biological controls, pest count estimates are required to determine if the beneficials are adequately maintaining low pest densities.

Finally, instead of guessing, scouting, and estimating pest counts makes it possible to evaluate the effectiveness of chemical pest control interventions after they are applied.

Using sticky cards to trap adults
One (1) sticky card is placed within each 1,000 sq. ft. area and near greenhouse vent and door openings as well as along the periphery of the house. Ideally the card should be placed at the level of the crop canopy or slightly below to effectively trap many of the major adult pests found in the greenhouse. Each of the sticky cards should be examined at least once per week. Using stakes and wooden clothespins to support the traps & sticking them into the media is an effective approach. Also, be certain to number and date each trap card to a specific location. When pest counts are low it is acceptable to reuse the trap card for additional weeks.

Counts and action threshold for the primary greenhouse pests

Western flower thrips
There are no universally accepted thresholds for the western flower thrips (WFT) because of numerous variables that cause the threshold number to change. A general guideline to start with might be 15 thrips per yellow sticky card per week per 1000 sq. ft. This arbitrary number is only a suggested starting point, and it may often be necessary to refine your own action thresholds with experience. A single adult thrips is less than 2 mm in siz.

If releasing predatory mites for biological controls it may be necessary to begin when as few as 2 thrips/ysc/wk/1000 sq. ft. are observed. Plants that are sensitive to thrips damage such as African violet and streptocarpus crops may have a threshold of less than 10 adult thrips captured on sticky traps per week per 1000 sq. ft. Alternatively, moderately sensitive plants such as impatiens, rose, gerbera, mum, and gloxinia crops may have action thresholds ranging as high as between 18 to 30 thrips/trap/wk/1000 sq. ft. (If tospoviruses (INSV or TSSV) are present within a crop, then thrips thresholds are one (1)). A poinsettia crop has a low sensitivity to thrips damage after leaves have matured and can have an action threshold of 40 or more adults captured per trap/wk/1000 sq. ft.

When these various threshold guidelines are reached it should be a signal to begin examining individual crop plants more closely, especially those plants closest to the sticky traps. Essentially, high sticky trap counts tell you locations to look at the crop more closely. However, keep in mind that the distribution pattern of the western flower thrips in the greenhouse can be random. Therefore, the thrips could potentially be found anywhere throughout the greenhouse. Some methods to scout for thrips on plants include the following: 1- Tapping the plant (especially flowers) over a piece of white paper to dislodge the thrips. 2- Exhaling carbon dioxide on the flowers to agitate the thrips and coerce them to leave their cryptic hiding places (e.g., composite flowers). 3- Pulling back and closely examining the nectar-producing flower organs with a hand lens to detect thrips presence (e.g., new guinea impatiens).

Aphids are often found feeding on the undersides of leaves, but can also be found under flower blooms. (Photo Credit: Steven K. Rettke, Rutgers Coop. Ext.)

It is not possible to use action thresholds to manage aphid populations. If winged aphids are found on sticky cards, then populations are usually already high. As a result, plant inspections are the only reliable way to scout for aphids. To simplify scouting efforts, attempt to group aphid-susceptible plant species together (e.g., chrysanthemum, sunflower, gazania, portulaca, pepper, calibrachoa, petunia, and others).

The distribution pattern of aphids in the greenhouse is typically spotty, with clumped populations (e.g., Melon aphids). On the other hand, Green Peach aphid species have a greater tendency to sometimes move throughout the crop & may have winged adults sooner. This behavior forces scouting to be more widespread. Look for plant symptoms such as distorted, discolored terminal tissue and for various aphid signs such as honeydew, sooty mold, cast skins and the actual aphids themselves.

Fungus gnats
When using yellow sticky traps to capture adult fungus gnats it is most effective to place traps horizontally (flat) near the root medium. Sticky traps placed in this position typically increase catch by 50% over traps set up in the traditional vertical position at canopy level. Adult fungus gnats are weak fliers and will not be found in high numbers around the tops of crop canopies. Yellow traps should also be placed under benches if the floor is not cement.

Potato disks or wedges placed within the medium to attract fungus gnat larvae can determine density counts. The disks are typically 1 to 2 inches in diameter and are pressed ½ inch into the root medium. The wedges (French fry shape) are ½ inch square and 1.5 to 2 inches long. The disks are best used in propagation areas while the wedges are best used with more established, deeper-rooted crops. Place the disks every 100 sq. ft. in propagation areas and the wedges every 1000 sq. ft. in production areas. Count fungus gnat larvae feeding on potato 48 hours after placement in media. It has been shown that after 72 hours the potato pieces may dry-out and lose their drawing capabilities. Or worse yet, the pieces may begin to rot, promoting a breeding ground for the larvae.

Some action thresholds have been determined for fungus gnat larvae when using the potato disks. Within propagation areas as few as 3-5 larvae per disk (after 48 hours) can cause considerable damage to the small, shallow root systems. Alternatively, when using the potato wedges (i.e., French fry shape) in a 6-inch pot, it may require as many as 15-20 larvae per wedge (after 48 hours) before any meaningful root damage occurs.

An extreme population of whitefly nymphs & adults has produced an extraordinary amount of honeydew dripping from beneath this poinsettia leaf. With time, leaf will turn black from sooty mold fungus. (Photo Credit: Steven K. Rettke, Rutgers Coop. Ext.) 

Although the use of yellow sticky traps can improve scouting efficiency, when scouting for whitefly it is especially important to also inspect crop foliage. It is critical to start scouting early so whitefly populations are not allowed to build up. High populations of whiteflies are one of the more difficult pests to suppress in the greenhouse. With a poinsettia crop, any previous whitefly infestations need to be under control by November. Otherwise, troubles with shipping & sales may occur before populations controls can be successfully achieved.

Typically, on infested plant foliage a consistent top to bottom distribution of whitefly growth stages can be observed. For example, adults will usually be found on the undersides of the upper canopy leaves. When inspecting for eggs, concentrate on the undersides of lower adjacent leaves just below the upper canopy. Smaller scales (1st /2nd instar nymphs) are then found on the undersides of foliage below the leaves containing eggs. Larger scales (3rd/4th instar nymphs) are found on the undersides of the next level of lower/older foliage. Finally, whitefly adults will be emerging from pupae found on the lowest/oldest leaves closest to the soil media.

Like aphids, whiteflies often produce sticky honeydew with the corresponding growth of the black sooty mold fungus. If this becomes readily visible, then it is certain that high whitefly infestations (or aphids) are already present within the crop.

When using biological controls (e.g., Encarsia formosa (parasitic wasps)) it is necessary to estimate counts of whitefly scales (nymphs) within a pest management unit to determine how many beneficials to release. How to rapidly estimate the total number of whitefly scales in your greenhouse will not be discussed in this article. Nevertheless, it has been determined a release ratio of 30:1 (scale to wasp) will prevent a population build-up of whiteflies. An even smaller release ratio of 150:1 (scale to wasp) will only be required if most of the scale nymph counts are early 1st/2nd instars. When using any kind of biological control tactic, it is crucial to start releases early before high pest levels are reached.

Spider mites 
Obviously, since spider mites are unable to fly during any life stage they will not be observed on sticky traps. Hence, when scouting for mites it is necessary to inspect individual plants within the crop. Looking for symptoms and signs such as leaf stippling and webbing help to indicate which plants to inspect more closely with 10x-15x magnifying hand-lens.

Some specific thresholds of two-spotted spider mites on ivy geraniums have been determined through research. It was shown that action thresholds of 7 mites per leaf are reached on plants greater than 5 weeks in production. Alternatively, action thresholds of only 2  mites per leaf are reached on plants less than 5 weeks in production. Estimated pest mite counts are required when releasing beneficial predatory mites (e.g., Phytoseiulus persimilis). Release one (1) predatory mite for every 4 to 10 two-spotted mites counted.

For more information:
Rutgers University
State University of New Jersey 


Publication date: Wed 20 Apr 2022

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Two New Beetle Species Identified at NEON Field Site in Hawai’i

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Mecyclothorax, a diverse genus of ground beetles inhabiting Pacific island volcanoes, has reached 241 species with two new species discovered at the National Ecological Observatory Network’s Pu’u Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve. At left is a male Mecyclothorax neonomas, and at right is a male Mecyclothorax brunneonubiger. (Photos by Kip Will, Ph.D.)

By Zoe Gentes

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on the National Ecological Observatory Network’s Observatory Blog. Republished with permission.

It’s always exciting when a new species is identified at a National Ecological Observatory Network field site. At Pu’u Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve (PUUM) in Hawai`i, researchers have verified the discovery of two previously undescribed species of carabids (ground beetles). Kip Will, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley, and James Liebherr, Ph.D., of Cornell University recently published their findings in The Pan-Pacific Entomologist: “Two new species of Mecyclothorax Sharp, 1903 (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Moriomorphini) from the Island of Hawai’i.

The two new species are both members of Mecyclothorax, a genus of ground beetles most diverse on volcanoes in the Hawaiian Islands and the Society Islands of French Polynesia. The newly named Mecyclothorax neonomas and Mecyclothorax brunneonubiger bring the number of known Mecyclothorax species in Hawai`i to 241 (many of them previously described and cataloged by Liebherr). Their discovery could provide new insights into the evolutionary history of the genus.

The Road to Discovery

At the the National Ecological Observatory Network’s Pu’u Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve in Hawai`i, researchers have verified the discovery of two previously undescribed species of ground beetles. Kip Will, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley, and James Liebherr, Ph.D., of Cornell University recently published their findings in March in The Pan-Pacific Entomologist. (Photo courtesy of National Ecological Observatory Network)

Will is one of two researchers contracted by the NEON program for definitive identification of carabids. He studies carabids worldwide and provides identification for the NEON program for carabids found in the western United States, including Hawai`i. Liebherr is one of the premier U.S. experts on carabids, especially those of the Hawaiian Islands. Over the last 20 years, he and his students have created the most extensive and authoritative guide to Hawaiian carabids to date. Will completed his Ph.D. thesis at Cornell under Liebherr’s tutelage.

Will first discovered the suspect specimens in a group of carabids sent to him for identification from PUUM. “When the NEON samples arrived for identification, it was my first time seriously working with Hawaiian carabids,” he says. He quickly realized that two of the specimens did not match species already described in Liebherr’s publications: “I said, hey, Jim, your key doesn’t work—these must be something new!” He sent the specimens to Cornell, where Liebherr confirmed the identification of two new species. Discovering new carabid species is par for the course for these researchers, but these are the first new Hawaiian carabid species identified with NEON samples.

Hawai’i is where Will first found his love of the insect world. He served eight years in the U.S. Army prior to starting his scientific career; while stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawai’i in the 1980s, he started volunteering with the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, which had a very active field entomology program at that time. He was smitten with the diversity of the insect world. “They had a fantastic collection there, and the researchers were very enthusiastic,” says Will. “They brought me on as a volunteer and took the time to explain everything.”

After leaving the Army, Will earned a degree in entomology from Ohio State University and eventually a Ph.D. from Cornell. He spent much time in the southern hemisphere, chasing carabids through South Africa, South America, and Australia. “Carabids give me an excuse to go everywhere. Wherever they are found, I’ll be there,” he says. Finding these two new species in the Hawaiian samples brings him full circle to his entomology roots on the islands.

Mecyclothorax neonomas (male at left, female at right) is one of two new species of carabid beetle discovered recently at the National Ecological Observatory Network’s Pu’u Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve in Hawai`i. (Photo by Kip Will, Ph.D.)

Illuminating Evolutionary Relationships Among Ground Beetles in Hawai`i

Will’s primary interest in entomology is phylogenetics, or the evolutionary relationships among species. Carabids in general, and Mecyclothorax in particular, provide excellent opportunities for phylogenetic studies. According to Liebherr, the 241 known species of Mecyclothorax in Hawai`i evolved over a period of 1.2 million to 1.9 million years. “They aren’t messing around when it comes to diversification,” he says.

Studying the differences between the species and the habitats they are found in can provide insights into how they evolved and diversified. Many species are found in tiny evolutionary niches. Over the course of Liebherr’s field studies in Hawai’i, he and his students identified 116 species of Mecyclothorax on a single volcano, including 74 species new to science. Volcanic islands, like those found in Hawai’i, have numerous “microhabitats” that promote rapid speciation for insects like Mecyclothorax. For example, individuals of a species might prefer streamside or aquatic habitats, leaf litter habitats on the forest floor, or arboreal microhabitats in epiphytic mosses or plants. Also, species on oceanic islands (especially wingless species such as those in the Mecyclothorax genus) often exhibit diminished dispersal abilities, and so each volcanic ridge may support species different from those on an adjoining ridge. The two new species discovered at PUUM, for example, are among those more likely to be found in terrestrial habitats within the forest, which makes them more susceptible to capture in the pitfall traps used by the NEON program.

Different species of Mecyclothorax are recognized by distinct morphology, striations evident in their exoskeletons, the species-specific form of the genitalia, and other physical characteristics, which also provide clues about the relationships between species. Will says, “The average person would just say, ‘There’s another shiny little brown beetle,’ but each species is unique based on their characteristics.” Species with more similar markings or morphology may be more closely related. Will explains, “We can look at the current distribution of species for clues as to how the taxa of particular fauna assembled over time. Looking at where we have representatives of related species on different volcanoes, and knowing the ages of each volcano, can tell us how they diversified and how they came to be where they are.”

Why Care About Carabids?

Mecyclothorax brunneonubiger (male shown here) is one of two new species of carabid beetle discovered recently at the National Ecological Observatory Network’s Pu’u Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve in Hawai`i. (Photo by Kip Will, Ph.D.)

Carabids are found in practically every ecosystem across the globe, with an estimated 35,000 to 45,000 species worldwide and nearly 2,500 known species in the U.S. alone. They are also good environmental indicators. Many species are highly specialized for their habitats and very sensitive to changes in the environment. These characteristics make them ideal subjects for NEON data collection. The NEON program collects ground beetles in pitfall traps at terrestrial field sites. Studying carabid populations across geographic regions and over time can provide insights into climate and ecosystem change and ecosystem dynamics.

Will explains, “The NEON program made a smart choice in sampling carabids. They are a group of insects that can be uniformly sampled to get at both shorter- and longer-term dynamics. They show just enough sensitivity to ecosystem and climate change—they’re tough enough to survive some change, but sensitive enough to show a response we can learn from.”

Carabids are found in large numbers in many habitats and play important roles in the ecosystem. Most are predators or scavengers. Some are the apex predators of the insect world in their domains, making some species very useful for bio-pest control. Many are highly specialized, with unique adaptations that allow them to go after specific prey such as hard-shelled snails or poison-spewing millipedes. These differences were what made carabids so fascinating to Will. “They are really important players in the ecosystem. If you want to have a robust ecosystem, they are part of that,” he says.

In the years to come, the NEON program’s carabid data will allow researchers to keep a close eye on shifting populations in Hawai’i and across the country. One issue Will plans to keep an eye on in Hawai’i is the impact of invasive carabid species on native Hawaiian species—for example, the invasive Trechus obtusus, which has shown up in large numbers in pitfall traps at PUUM. “That’s the beauty of consistent sampling year after year,” he says. “It allows us to see how populations ebb and flow and where additional native or non-native species are moving in or native species are getting pushed out. NEON lets us see these shifts over time.”

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Two new species of Mecyclothorax Sharp, 1903 (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Moriomorphini) from the Island of Hawai‵i

The Pan-Pacific Entomologist

Zoe Gentes is a senior communications specialist at Battelle with the National Ecological Observatory Network Program. Email: gentes@battelleecology.org.

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Missouri ag department scouts for emerging grape pest

Lana2011/Getty Images; Lawrence Barringer, Bugwood.orginset of spotted lanternfly on photo of grapes

WINE INDUSTRY CONCERN: Missouri’s grape growers should be on the watch for the spotted lanternfly, which was detected in a neighboring state last year. It can decimate vineyards. The Missouri Department of Agriculture continues to scout for this invasive insect.

With spotted lanternfly found in the heartland, state officials are ramping up reporting efforts to protect wine industry.

Mindy Ward | Mar 23, 2022



Farm Progress Show

Aug 30, 2022 to Sep 01, 2022

At the end of 2021, a Kansas 4-H member turned in his bug collection project. There, pinned to the Styrofoam board, was an invasive insect only thought to be along the East Coast — the spotted lanternfly.

The young man found the spotted lanternfly — a unique spotted bug that feeds on grapevines and fruit trees — in his backyard. First detected in Pennsylvania in 2014, it sucks out the nutrients in the plants causing them to die.


“They did not find any large population of spotted lanternfly in Kansas, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there,” says entomologist Kevin Rice with University of Missouri Extension. “You’re looking for a needle in a haystack really.”

But he adds it is pest everyone needs to look for to protect the state’s wine industry.

Missouri is home to more than 1,700 acres of grapes, with more than 400 vineyards. There are 127 wineries producing more than 937,850 gallons of wine. This industry alone adds $3.2 billion to the state’s economy. According to Missouri Partnership data, the state welcomes 875,000 wine-related tourists each year, resulting in 1.16 million gallons of wine sold annually.

“We’re very concerned for our vineyards, and those that might have grapevines in their backyard as hobby crops,” says Sarah Phipps, Missouri Department of Agriculture plant protection specialist. She recently sat in on a Spotted Lanternfly Summit hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and heard from an affected vineyard owner.

A grape grower’s experience

Phipps says the owner had two vineyards, one at ground zero, about 2 miles away from where they found the initial infestation of spotted lanternfly in Pennsylvania in 2014. By 2017, his vineyard was overrun by the insect. “His vineyard was unfortunately gone,” she says.

Once this invasive insect appears in a vineyard, it is difficult and costly to eradicate. The same vineyard owner had a second location where spotted lanternfly showed up in 2017. Two years later, it too required chemical control options.

Fortunately, Phipps says research over the last seven years provides some management options; however, they are expensive.

In 2016, growers reported using 4.2 pesticide applications to rid vineyards of spotted lanternfly, but by 2018, it had increased to 14 pesticide applications just to keep the insect in check. “So that was a $54.63-an-acre cost in 2016 to a $147.85-an-acre in 2018. That’s a pretty significant increase of dollars spent,” Phipps adds.

Worse, patrons at wineries in the impacted states had to deal with the fly. The insect was on tables, in wine glasses and individuals’ hair. Many owners reported placing fly swatters at tables to help kill the spotted lanternfly. The impact to the wine industry’s tourism is also a concern.

Stories like these strengthen Phipps and the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s drive to protect the wine industry by taking a proactive approach to this pest.

Scouting for spotted lanternfly

“We have surveyed a little over 30 counties,” Phipps says. “We have surveyors located across the state and have asked them to take some time and survey tree of heaven to see if there is any spotted lanternfly on those plants.”

Eric R. Day, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Bugwood.orgspotted lanternfly feeding on tree of heaven

The spotted lanternfly feeds on tree of heaven, which can be found on Missouri’s roadways and railroad tracks. It also has been known to appear in urban settings around commercial buildings, which is concerning since the female can lay eggs on metal making it easy to transport across the state.

According to Phipps, the tree of heaven is a food source for the spotted lanternfly. This invasive tree species can be found growing alongside roadways, railroad tracks or industrial buildings. Phipps also warns that the spotted lanternfly females lay their eggs on rail cars and trucks, increasing the potential for the insect to spread rapidly throughout the entire U.S. Already in Pennsylvania, trucks must be inspected and certified that they are not carrying spotted lanternfly.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is working with USDA surveyors to combine data sets to create a yearly account for the movement, if any, of the insect. The state is also looking for any individual, landowner or farmer to help in identifying and reporting spotted lanternfly.

map of Missouri counties surveyed for spotted lanternflies on tree of heaven plants

Identifying the enemy

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive planthopper, similar to a large aphid, with a straw-like mouth that sucks the sap out of plants. The adult is about 1 inch long and a half-inch wide with its wings expanded.

It resembles a moth but has distinct markings. The forewing is gray with black spots, and the wing tips are reticulated black blocks outlined in gray, according to Rice. The back wings have distinct patches of red and black with a white band.

The legs and head are black; the abdomen is yellow with broad black bands. The insects during their immature stages are black with white spots, and develop red patches as they grow.

life cycle of spotted lanternfly graphic

“We don’t have a whole lot of native insects that really look like this,” Rice says. “So if you see this, we ask that you call the Department of Ag and report it.”

Rice stresses that spotted lanternfly is not creating economic damage in field crops now; however, Pennsylvania reported it in soybean fields in 2017. “It’s not going to affect corn or soybeans, but it does have such an impact on the vineyards that we want to report it,” Rice says. “So if you see it, we ask that you call the Missouri Department of Agriculture and report it.”

Rice says it is important to eradicate a small population rather than let it go unchecked and grow into a larger problem for the state’s ag industry.

Have you seen this invader? Spotted lanternfly graphic

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Student’s device enables researchers to easily track elusive insects

Date:February 24, 2022Source:Florida Museum of Natural HistorySummary:With some home security software and a little ingenuity, researchers have developed an inexpensive device that will allow them to study the behavior and activity of insects in regions of the world where they’re most diverse.Share:


With some home security software and a little ingenuity, researchers have developed an inexpensive device that will allow them to study the behavior and activity of insects in regions of the world where they’re most diverse.

Insects are easily the largest group of organisms on the planet, and with species inhabiting every continent, including Antarctica, they’re also ubiquitous. Yet compared to birds and mammals, scientists know very little about when most insects are awake and active, which is especially true of nocturnal species that fly under the obscuring veil of darkness.

“Most of what we know regarding insect behavior is from species that are active during the day,” said Akito Kawahara, curator of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity at the Florida Museum of Natural History and co-author of a new study describing the device. “We study butterflies, bees and ants because we can see them, but there are hundreds of thousands of nocturnal insects out there, all of which have been nearly impossible to track until now.”

Knowing when organisms are most active is the foundation for understanding their behaviors and circadian rhythms — patterns that determine when they look for food, reproduce, pollinate flowers and more. Without this basic information for insects, it’s harder to predict or determine how changes in the environment, like an increase in light pollution, might impact them.

But the tinier the animal, the harder it is to track. Insects are generally too small to carry around tracking devices that would cue in biologists to their movements. Instead, researchers have to lure them in with baits or lights, which only paint a partial picture of their activity.

“You might think a moth is nocturnal because it’s only been seen at night, but that doesn’t mean it’s not out during the day. It just might not have been seen,” said lead author Yash Sondhi, a Ph.D. student at Florida International University co-advised by Kawahara. “We wanted to look past the standard nocturnal or diurnal categories that could be an oversimplification.”

For years, Kawahara tried to find a portable device that would allow him to track insects while working in the field with his collaborator Jesse Barber at Boise State University, at times even attempting to outsource the work to companies in the hopes they could build it for him. But equipment sensitive enough to measure the delicate movements of the smallest moths while being durable enough to hold up in harsh environments and remote locations without electricity or internet proved difficult to engineer.

So when Sondhi offered to try creating it himself, Kawahara was thrilled. “We had put the project aside, but Yash was able to come along and build the device we’d always envisioned,” he said.

Sondhi gathered a microcomputer, open-source motion tracking software, sensors, a camera and all-important infrared lights that don’t disturb or confuse insects. He housed all of this in a mesh cage that looks like a laundry hamper, and the portable locomotion activity monitor, called pLAM, was born.

It can be built for under $100, a tiny fraction of the lab-based technology that cost anywhere between $1,000 to $4,000.

After using pLAM to monitor insect activity in the lab to ensure the equipment was running smoothly, Sondhi and Kawahara tested it on a research trip to Costa Rica. They collected 15 species, placing between four and eight moths of each into the activity monitors.

Sondhi says one of the most interesting examples was a species of tiger moth. It’s assumed these brightly colored, toxic moths are exclusively out during the day, because predators steer clear of them and they can move about without fear of being eaten. However, data from the activity monitors revealed they’re also active at dusk. After all, they have to escape other predators who come out at nightfall, like bats.

“It was so cool to see the different activity patterns,” Sondhi said. “Not everything is as black and white as we think. Now, we can predict and better understand what’s driving when insects fly. The goal is to quantify when they are active and then associate that with their traits — for example, if a moth is dull-colored, beige, does that mean it’s strictly nocturnal?”

Kawahara is optimistic that the new device will help inform efforts to stave off the recent global trend of insect decline and extinction. “The baseline data that we need to understand the activity of small insects and other organisms is so limited,” he said. “We talk about how light pollution, noise pollution and climate change impact insects, but we don’t know anything about how it affects their activity because we haven’t been able to monitor activity for most insect species. This device will allow us to collect that information.”

This year, Sondhi will be using this new tool to continue his National Geographic-funded research on how moths respond to light pollution. He’s collected data on the differing light levels at several field sites in India. Now, he can examine how light pollution could be confusing moths, interfering with their natural circadian patterns and impacting when they are active.

The research was published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

Funding for the study was provided by the Florida International University Graduate School, the National Science Foundation, a Tropical Conservation Grant from the Susan Levine Foundation, a Lewis Clark Exploration Grant from the American Philosophical Society, a National Geographic Explorer Grant and the Centers for Disease Control, Southeastern Center of Excellence in Vector-borne Disease.

make a difference: sponsored opportunity

Story Source:

Materials provided by Florida Museum of Natural History. Original written by Angela Nicoletti and Jerald Pinson. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Yash Sondhi, Nicolas J. Jo, Britney Alpizar, Amanda Markee, Hailey E. Dansby, John Paul Currea, Samuel T. Fabian, Carlos Ruiz, Elina Barredo, Pablo Allen, Matthew DeGennaro, Akito Y. Kawahara, Jamie C. Theobald. Portable locomotion activity monitor ( pLAM ): A cost‐effective setup for robust activity tracking in small animalsMethods in Ecology and Evolution, 2022; DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.13809

Cite This Page:

Florida Museum of Natural History. “Student’s device enables researchers to easily track elusive insects.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 February 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/02/220224120640.htm>.

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Collecting Insects: Tricks of the Trade


New to insect collecting? Whether you’re a student just getting started in entomology or a hobbyist exploring your own backyard, entomology graduate student Elizabeth Bellow offers a primer on tools and tactics for gathering a variety of insects and arthropods. For example, malaise traps are an easy and passive way to collect a variety of insects. (It’s also important to wear proper gear like the permethrin-treated coverall, as Bello shows here.)

By Elizabeth Bello

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series contributed by the ESA Student Affairs Committee. See other posts by and for entomology students here at Entomology Today.

Elizabeth Bello

Humans have most likely collected insects since the beginning of our civilizations. Our earliest records indicate that Chinese civilizations used silkworms in 4700 BC, honey bees by the 5th century, and scale insects by the 13th century. Insects have been collected for a multitude of reasons, everything from food production to dye creation to scientific study. This trend continues today, and many more people have become involved in insect collections, not just for science, but as a hobby, and even for art.

Perhaps the most avid insect collectors are—you guessed it—entomologists. As with most things, insect collecting is a skill that can be learned and honed over time, but in the beginning it can be quite difficult. In this article, I will outline some tips and advice on how, when, and where to collect insects as well as a few other things to keep in mind while you’re out collecting.

Know Your Insects

The first step is to figure out what insects you’re trying to collect and why. Are you taking your first entomology course and need to create an insect collection? Are you a researcher who needs to find that one species of pollinator for your study? Are you a hobbyist looking for big flashy beetles to display? Knowing what you’re looking for will help inform how to go about collecting what you need. Researching the life history of your insect(s) will tell you what they eat, where to find them, when to find them, and most likely the best way to capture them. Insects are virtually everywhere, so if you’re looking to catch anything and everything you should have no problem; but, if you’re looking for something specific, you’ll need to tailor your hunting strategy and your gear.

Know Your Gear

There are two main types of insect collecting: active and passive. Active collection requires more energy and the physical effort to capture insects, while passive collecting often involves traps that can be checked and monitored on a regular basis.

For active collecting, the three most popular tools are nets, beat sheets, and aspirators. Nets can come in a wide variety, including lightweight mesh aerial nets for collecting flying insects, aquatic mesh nets for collecting aquatic insects (this is often paired with using a white bottomed container in which to place the insects for easy visibility), and sweep nets, which are made of a sturdier fabric for sweeping insects off vegetation. Beat sheets are used by placing a sheet under vegetation and shaking or disturbing the plant above to capture any falling insects. Aspirators are another popular collecting tool and can be electric or manual. They are great for sucking small insects off natural and artificial surfaces.

Blacklight traps like the one pictured here are a great way to collect or photograph nocturnal insects.

The traps involved in passive collection will also depend on the insect you’re after. Malaise traps will catch a wide variety of insects, whereas funnel traps baited with specific pheromones can be aimed at collecting a particular species of beetle, for example. Pitfall traps are another common trap and involve placing a container filled with soapy water in soil, rim level with the ground. This will capture any insects that fall into it but will need to be periodically replaced, especially if it rains. Blacklight or UV traps are tailored to attract nocturnal insects but need a little more work in that they require the use of an aspirator or net to collect the insects off the trap.

Another important thing to remember is that traps can also be baited, which will greatly improve your success. Mosquitos for example, are attracted to carbon dioxide, so their traps often will be baited with dry ice. Berlese funnels aren’t exactly traps but are a very effective tool used to extract arthropods from soil and leaf litter samples and can easily be made at home with common supplies. Please note there are many, many more insect traps than what I’ve mentioned here.

Aside from what you’re using to collect the insects, you’ll need different equipment to store your insects. This means jars, containers, and lots of them in all different sizes, plus something to carry them in. I’ve seen people recommend multipocketed cargo pants, fly fishing vests, backpacks, and fanny packs. For soft bodied or aquatic insects, you’ll need ethanol in a leak-proof container; for lepidopterans you’ll need wax envelopes; and, for most other insects, plastic or glass containers will do. I am particularly fond of repurposing 33-millimeter film canisters as a storage container. Many entomologists will also often bring a kill jar, which is a glass jar equipped with either hardened plaster or some cotton balls at the bottom soaked with acetone. Be careful, though, when using acetone, as it can disturb the color of your insects and cause damage to any plastic materials.

If you are collecting insects for research purposes, a handheld GPS or smartphone will come in handy for recording your location. It is also vital that you write your collection information as soon as possible, because a freezer full of unlabeled specimens are practically useless, and I can guarantee you’ll never remember when or where you got them from.

Know Your Environment

Knowing where you will be collecting will influence not only what insects you’ll be able to catch but also other gear you might need. If you’ll be searching hard or rocky landscapes, you might want knee pads and elbow pads. If you’re in a hot, arid environment, you’ll need protective clothing, sunscreen, and a lot of water. On the other hand, if you’re in a wet environment you’ll need waterproof clothing.

Additionally, you’ll want to know if you even can collect there. Is it private or public land? Do you need a permit? Are you going to be in the woods during hunting season? These are all important details to understand while planning your collecting trip. Finally, knowing your environment will help you to identify the potential hazards you may face.

Know the Hazards

Rolling duct tape around a pen will lighten your load and come in handy for tick removal, broken equipment, or other emergencies.

The three main hazards to your health while insect collecting fall under the categories of weather, wildlife, and terrain. Always, always plan for the weather and keep an eye out for any signs of quickly approaching storms. It’s also good to keep in mind how the weather might negatively affect your more delicate gear and electronics.

As for wildlife, we often pose more of a threat to wildlife than it does to us, but that doesn’t mean we’re invincible. Being prepared for unexpected wildlife encounters could include wearing bug spray, leech socks, or boot gaiters, or it could mean carrying a pocketknife or a can of bear spray. Remember, if you’re in the wilderness, you’re invading their space, not the other way around, so it’s important be respectful.

Just as with weather, the terrain will also influence what you wear. A good pair of shoes that are right for the occasion can make all the difference in the world, and wearing long pants instead of shorts can save your legs from scratches and exposure to poisonous plants. Make sure you keep in mind the obstacles you might be faced with when you’re out collecting, as well. Depending on where and how long you’ll be collecting for, it might not be a bad idea to bring some emergency supplies and let at least one other person know the details of your route. A great tip I learned from one of my friends is to roll some duct tape around a pen. It’s much lighter than carrying around a whole roll and can be used in a variety of ways, including removal of ticks or repairing tears in clothing and gear.

A Note on the Ethics of Collecting

While there are many benefits of collecting insects, there may also be numerous consequences. Many entomologists see the value in collecting insects for research, monitoring, and record-building purposes, but some people are opposed to it, and their perspective is equally valid. We must ask ourselves about the ethics of insect collecting: Are we negatively impacting insect populations? Are we contributing to the steady decline in biodiversity? Is it right or just of us to take the life of another living creature? How can we better our collecting practices to minimize our negative impacts and maximize the benefits? “The Insect Collectors’ Code,” a fantastic article by Carolyn Trietsch and Andrew R. Deans in the Fall 2018 issue of American Entomologist, discusses these points and is well worth the read.

A Note From the Author

Finally, some of the material in this paper was crowdsourced from users on Twitter, and there is additional information I was not able to include in this article. You can find other tips and tricks of the trade in the replies to this tweet below.


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Copied from PestNet

Thursday, 17 February 2022 06:49:28

Grahame Jackson posted a new submission ‘ PANTOEA LEAF BLIGHT, RICE – CHINA: FIRST REPORT’




Source: Plant Disease [summ. Mod.DHA, edited]

Citation: Yu L, Yang C, Ji Z, et al. First Report of New Bacterial Leaf Blight of Rice Caused by _Pantoea ananatis_ in Southeast China. Plant Disease. 2022; 106 (1); doi: 10.1094/PDIS-05-21-0988-PDN.
In autumn 2020, leaf blight was observed on a number of varieties of rice (_Oryza sativa_) in Zhejiang and Jiangxi provinces. The disease incidence was 45-60%. The symptoms were assumed to be caused by _Xanthomonas oryzae_ pv. _oryzae_ (Xoo), the pathogen of rice bacterial blight.

Sixty-three isolates were obtained from collected diseased leaves. 16S rRNA sequence analysis from 6 isolates revealed that the amplified fragments shared 98% similarity with the _Pantoea ananatis_ type strain in GenBank. Analysis of further sequences and phylogenetic analyses was carried out. Based on the obtained morphological, physiological, biochemical, and molecular data, the isolates were confirmed as _P. ananatis_. Pathogenicity tests resulted in symptoms similar to those in the field.

_P. ananatis_ has previously been reported to cause grain discolouration of rice in the country, but this is the 1st report of _P. ananatis_ as the causative agent of rice leaf blight. This raises the alarm that the emerging rice bacterial leaf blight might be caused by _P. ananatis_, instead of Xoo as traditionally assumed. Further, the differences of occurrence, spread, and control between these 2 diseases will need to be determined.

Communicated by:

[_Pantoea ananatis_ symptoms in rice may include lesions on stems, stem necrosis, and leaf blight. The pathogen has also been reported to cause sheath and grain rot, as well as kernel discolouration. _P. stewartii_, previously known to occur on rice seeds, has also recently been associated with a leaf blight of the crop in Africa (ProMED post 20170504.5012251). Both species are considered emerging rice pathogens. The effects of different bacterial strains on hosts can vary dramatically. The bacteria are generally transmitted by insect vectors, plant material, and infected seed, making them a quarantine risk.

Species in the genus can cause diseases on a number of crops, such as Stewart’s bacterial wilt on maize and fruit bronzing of jack fruit (_P. stewartii_); leaf blights of cereals, including rice (_P. agglomerans_); pink disease of pineapple (_P. citrea_); brown stalk rot of maize (_P. ananatis_ and a novel _Pantoea_ species); and centre rot of onion (_P. ananatis_). A bacterial blight of _Eucalyptus_ and a leaf blotch disease of sudangrass have also been associated with _Pantoea_ species.

_Xanthomonas oryzae_ pv. _oryzae_ (Xoo) causes bacterial leaf blight (BLB) of rice. In Asia, millions of hectares of rice paddies are severely affected every year, with reported yield losses of up to 60% (e.g., see ProMED post 20211216.8700304). Xo pv. _oryzicola_ (Xoc) is the causal agent of bacterial leaf streak (BLS; e.g., see ProMED post 20210713.8514345), which is currently considered one of the most important emerging diseases of rice in the region. Xoc is thought to have originated in Asia but is now also spreading in Africa (e.g., recent 1st report from Senegal, see link below).

China provinces:

_P. ananatis_ symptoms on rice:

_P. ananatis_ on rice:
https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-94-4-0482B and
Information & review on _P. ananatis_:
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1364-3703.2009.00542.x and
_P. ananatis_ taxonomy and strains:
https://www.uniprot.org/taxonomy/553 and
Description of genus _Pantoea_:
Information on _Pantoea_ species and subspecies:
http://www.bacterio.net/pantoea.html and
First report of Xoc in Senegal 2022:
Genus _Xanthomonas_ taxonomy, species & strains via:
– Mod.DHA]

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Minimizing Further Insect Pest Invasions in Africa

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Esther Ngumbi

Jun 20, 2018

Photo: Tamzin Byrne/ICIPE

This was written by Esther Ngumbi, and appeared on Sci Dev Net

USAID recently offered prize money for the best digital tools that can be used to help combat the fall armyworm (FAW), an invasive pest that has spread across Africa. The winners will be announced in the coming months.
Identified in over 35 African countries since 2016, the FAW is expected to continue to spread, threatening food security and agricultural trade in African countries.

Map of areas affected by Fall Armyworm (as of January 2018)

Map of areas affected by Fall Armyworm (as of January 2018) Credit: FAO

But this is not the first invasive pest the African continent is dealing with. Just a few years ago, African smallholder farmers battled the invasive South American tomato moth, Tuta absoluta. According to recent research, five invasive insect pests including T. absoluta cost the African continent US$ 1.1 billion every year.
Around the world, invasive pests are causing US$ 540 billion in economic losses to agriculture each year despite the fact that many countries are doing their best to prevent insect invasions now and into the future.

Tackling invasive pests reactively

To deal with invasive insects, African countries assisted by other stakeholders, including aid agencies such as USAID, research institutions such as the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology, the Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI, the parent organization of SciDev.Net) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) have repeatedly taken a reactive rather than a proactive approach in tackling the invasive pests only after they have established a foothold and caused considerable damage.
Ghana, for example, established a National Taskforce to control and manage FAW after the worms had invaded local fields. This taskforce mandate includes sensitizing farmers and making them aware of the symptoms of armyworm attacks so they can report infestations to authorities and undertake research aimed at finding short and long term solutions to combat the spread of FAW.

“While many of these strategies are working, one cannot help but wonder what it would take for African governments to get ahead of this problem.”

Esther Ngumbi, University of Illinois

Malawi’s government prioritized the use of pesticides as an immediate and short-term strategy to fight the FAW after many of their smallholder farmers lost crops to this invasive insect. Further, the government intensified training and awareness campaigns about this pest and installed pheromone traps to help monitor the spread only after the pest had established a foothold.
The FAO, a leader in the efforts to deal with invasive pests in Africa, has spearheaded many efforts including bringing together experts from the Americas, Africa and other regions to share and update each other on FAW. The FAO has launched a mobile phone app to be used as an early warning system tool. But again, many of these efforts happened after the first detection of the FAW.
While many of these strategies are working, one cannot help but wonder what it would take for African governments to get ahead of this problem. How can aid agencies such as USAID, UN FAO and other development partners that are currently spending billions to fight the invasive FAW help Africa to take the necessary steps to ensure that it is better prepared to deal with invasive insects now and into the future?

Anticipate and prepare

Recent research predicts that threats from invasive insects will continue to increase with African countries expected to be the most vulnerable. African governments must anticipate and prepare for such invasions using already available resources.
Early this year, CABI launched invasive species Horizon Scanning Tool (beta), a tool that allows countries to identify potential invasive species. This online and open source tool supported by United States Department of Agriculture and the UK Department for International Development allows countries to generate a list of invasive species that are absent from their countries at the moment but present in “source areas,” which may be relevant because they are neighboring countries, linked by trade and transport routes, or share similar climates. Doing so could allow African countries to prepare action plans that can be quickly rolled out when potential invaders actually arrive.

Learn from other regions

Africa can learn from other regions that have comprehensive plans on dealing with invasive insects and countries that have gone through similar invasions. The United States and Australia are examples of countries that have comprehensive plans on preventing and dealing with insect invasions, while Brazil has gone through its own FAW invasion.

“African governments must learn to be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with invasive insects.”

Esther Ngumbi, University of Illinois

Through workshops and training programs that help bring experts together, African countries can learn how to prevent and deal with future insect invasions. Moreover, key actors should help organize more workshops and training programs to enable African experts to learn from their counterparts overseas. At the same time, the manuals, and all the information exchanged and learned during such workshops, could be stored in online repositories that can be accessed by all African countries.   

Strengthen African pest surveillance

A recent Feed the Future funded technical brief, which I helped to write, looked at the strength of existing African plant protection regulatory frameworks by examining eight indicators including the existence of a specified government agency mandated with the task of carrying out pest surveillance.
It reveals that many African countries have weak plant protection regulatory systems and that many governments do not carry out routine pest surveillance which involves the collection, recording, analysis, interpretation and timely dissemination of information about the presence, prevalence and distribution of pests.
The International Plant Protection Convention offers a comprehensive document that can help African countries to design pest surveillance programs. Also, the convention offers other guiding documents that can be used by African countries to strengthen their plant protection frameworks. African countries can use these available documents to strengthen national and regional pest surveillance abilities.

Set up emergency funds

Invasive insects know no borders. Thus, African countries must work together. At the same time, given the rapid spread of invasive insect outbreaks, the African continent must set up an emergency fund that can easily be tapped when insects invade. In dealing with the recent FAW invasion, it was evident that individual African countries and the continent did not have an emergency financing plan. This must change.

By anticipating potential invasive insects and learning from countries that have comprehensive national plant protection frameworks, Africa can be prepared for the next insect invasion. African governments must learn to be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with invasive insects.
Doing so will help safeguard Africa’s agriculture and protect the meaningful gains made in agricultural development. Time is ripe.
Esther Ngumbi is a distinguished postdoctoral researcher with the Department of Entomology at the US-based University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, a World Policy Institute Senior Fellow, Aspen Institute New Voices Food Security Fellow and a Clinton Global University Initiative Agriculture Commitments Mentor and Ambassador. She can be contacted at enn0002@tigermail.auburn.edu 
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk. 


[1] USAID: Fall Armyworm Tech Prize (USAID, 2018). 
[2] Briefing note on FAO actions on fall armyworm in Africa (UN FAO, 31 January 2018) 
[3] Corin F. Pratt and others  Economic impacts of invasive alien species on African smallholder livelihoods (Global Food Security, vol 14, September 2017).
[4] Abigail Barker Plant health-state of research (Kew Royal Botanic gardens, 2017).
[5] US Embassy in Lilongwe United States assists Malawi to combat fall armyworm. (US Embassy, 13 February 2018).
[6] Joseph Opoku Gakpo Fall armyworm invasion spreads to Ghana (Cornell Alliance for Science, 19 May 2017). 
[7] Kimberly Keeton Malawi’s new reality: Fall armyworm is here to stay (IFPRI, 26 February 2018).
[8] Malawi’s farmers resort to home-made repellents to combat armyworms (Reuters, 2018). 
[9] Fall Armyworm (UN FAO, 2018). 
[10] FAO launches mobile application to support fight against Fall Armyworm in Africa (UN FAO, 14 March 2018).
[11] Dean R. Paini and others Global threat to agriculture from invasive species (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 5 July 2016).
[12] CABI launches invasive species Horizon Scanning Tool (CABI, 2018).
[13] United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service(USDA APHIS, 2018).
[14] Australia Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (Australia Government, 2018).
[15] Plant protection EBA data in action technical brief (USAID FEED THE FUTURE, 26 January 2018).
[16] Guidelines for surveillance (International Plant Protection Convention, 2016)FILED UNDER:AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITYMARKETS AND TRADEPOLICY AND GOVERNANCERESILIENCE

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The Himalayan Times

Late blight destroys potatoes

By Rastriya Samachar Samiti

Published: 11:42 am Jan 30, 2022

Photo: RSS


Potatoes cultivated in Regil village in Khandachakra Municipality of Kalikot have been destroyed by late blight disease. The disease has destroyed potatoes cultivated by local farmers in about five bigha land.

Mansara Shahi, a local farmer, said that the farmers of the entire village planted potatoes but the disease had completely destroyed the potato crop. “In the past, we used to earn good income from potatoes,” he said. 

Mayor of the municipality Jasiprasad Pandey said that potatoes were destroyed due to late blight disease. The agriculture branch of the municipality carried out the monitoring and relief would be given to farmers whose potatoes were destroyed.

Bhakti Prasad Pandey, chief of the agriculture branch of the municipality, said that some of the farms were completely destroyed even though some were not affected by the disease. “During our monitoring, it was found that chemical pesticides were used but without technical consultation, so we found that there was a problem with late blight disease,” he said. The branch has started the procedures to control the disease.

A version of this article appears in the print on January 30, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.

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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (7 February 2022)

This month’s pest alerts include the include the the first report of Spotted-wing drosophila associated with Actinidia kolomikta (Photograph by Martin Cooper)

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this month include the first report of Spotted-wing drosophila associated with Actinidia kolomikta and the first report of anthracnose caused by Colletotrichum fructicola on Brassica parachinensis in China.

To view all search results for new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases, click here or to view results by your location click here.

If there’s another new record you’d like to highlight, please post a comment.

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