Archive for the ‘Pest damage’ Category

A new technique reduces mouse damage to crops even during plagues

Mice are tricked to think there is no point digging for seeds.

May 24, 2023

ByVidya Nagalwade

Image showing wheat crops.
Credit: Pixabay

The technology developed by researchers at the University of Sydney could revolutionize agricultural loss management due to mouse plague.

In 2021, NSW Farmers predicted that the mouse plague would inflict $1 billion in crop loss in Australia.

 The study, published in Nature Sustainability, was led by Ph.D. student Finn Parker, with co-authors from the Sydney Institute of Agriculture and School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Professor Peter Banks, Dr. Catherine Price, and Jenna Bytheway. 

According to the research team, spraying diluted wheat germ oil on a wheat crop before and after seeding reduces mice’s ability to successfully steal wheat seeds by 63 percent compared to untreated controls.

Seed loss was decreased by 74 percent if the same solution was applied to the wheat plot before planting. They claim that the mice have figured out how to ignore the wheat odour by the time the crop is sown. 

This disinformation strategy may be effective in other agricultural systems since any animal that uses smell to locate food is potentially subject to our capacity to manipulate that smell and impair the animal’s ability to search.

Professor Banks said, “We could reduce mice damage even during plague conditions simply by making it hard for mice to find their food, by camouflaging the seed odor. Because they’re hungry, they can’t spend all their time searching for food that’s hard to find.” 

He also said, “When the smell of the seed is everywhere, they’ll just go and look for something else instead of being encouraged to dig. That’s because mice are precise foragers that can smell seeds in the ground and explore exactly where a seed is. However, they can’t do that because everything smells like seeds. This misinformation tactic could work well in other crop systems. Indeed, any animal that finds food by smell is potentially vulnerable to us manipulating that smell and undermining their ability to search.”

Finn Parker said, “The camouflage appeared to last until after the seeds germinated, which is the period of vulnerability when wheat needs to be protected.”

He added that camouflage treatment could be an effective solution for wheat growers, given wheat’s brief vulnerability. 

He said, “Most mouse damage occurs when seeds are sown up to germination, just under two weeks later. Mice can’t evolve resistance to the method either because it uses the same odor that mice rely on to find wheat seeds.”

The majority of mouse damage happens between the time seeds are sown and germination or slightly under two weeks later.

 In May 2021, 60 plots on a farm 10 kilometers northwest of Pleasant Hills, New South Wales, served as the testing ground for five treatments.

The other three treatments were controls, while two used the wheat germ oil solution. 

Similar results were achieved by all control treatments, which sustained noticeably more significant damage than treated plots.

A reasonably affordable by-product of milling is wheat germ oil. The scientists claimed that their solution, consisting of diluted wheat germ oil in water, provides a safe, long-lasting substitute for pesticides and baits.

“If people want to control mice but can’t get numbers down low enough, our technique can be a potent alternative to pesticides or add value to existing methods.” Dr Price said.

The research could aid wheat farmers at a crucial time.

The number of mice is increasing, and wheat is sown in the middle of fall.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the Australian wheat market is anticipated to hit a record high of $15 billion this fiscal year.

Wheat producers may benefit from the research at this critical time. Wheat is sown in the middle of fall, and mouse populations are increasing.

The next step is for the researchers to determine how diluted the concentration can be and still effectively repel mice and how frequently the solution needs to be sprayed on a crop to maintain its efficacy.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the Australian wheat market is anticipated to hit a record high of $15 billion this fiscal year. 

Journal Reference:

  1. Parker, F.C.G., Price, C.J., Bytheway, J.P., et al. Olfactory misinformation reduces wheat seed loss caused by rodent pests. Nature Sustainability. DOI: 10.1038/s41893-023-01127-3

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Sunday, 21 May 2023 11:38:57

Grahame Jackson posted a new submission ‘RUST, GARLIC – INDIA: (HIMACHAL PRADESH)’




Source: United News of India (UNI) [summ. Mod.DHA, edited]

Farmers are worried about rust disease in garlic in some areas Himachal Pradesh. The crop was about to be harvested soon. Garlic leaves in the fields are turning yellow with symptoms of rust in the crops. The Agriculture Department has advised farmers to spray fungicides to control the disease.

Communicated by:

[Rust of garlic (_Allium sativum_) and related allium crops (such as onion, leek is caused by the fungus _Puccinia porri_ (previously _P. allii_). However, some strains have been reported to appear to be specialised to infect one particular host species. Symptoms may include yellowing, wilting, drying and premature death of leaves; reduced size and quality of bulbs; lack of protective outer skins of bulbs, making them susceptible to shattering during harvest.

Rust spores are wind dispersed over long distances. They can also be spread by mechanical means (human or insect activities) and on contaminated materials (equipment, clothing, crop debris). The fungi need living tissue to survive between seasons. Volunteer crop and wild host plants may generate a “green bridge” providing inoculum to infect new crops. Disease management relies mainly on timely fungicide applications, choice of crop cultivars, control of volunteer crop plants and use of disease free planting material. Early discovery of infection is important so action can be taken to limit pathogen spread as well as build-up of inoculum.

New strains of rusts with increased virulence may emerge, including strains showing additional fungicide resistances and/or the ability to break down genetic resistances of specific host varieties. Monitoring and resistance breeding programmes for early detection of new rust strains is important for effective crop production.

India (with states):
http://www.mapsofindia.com/images2/india-map.jpg and

Garlic with rust symptoms:
https://reallygoodwriter.com/images/2012JulyGarlicRustSpot.jpg, and

Information on garlic rust:
https://goodlifepermaculture.com.au/garlic-rust/ (with pictures) and via
_P. porri_ taxonomy & synonyms:
http://www.indexfungorum.org/names/NamesRecord.asp?RecordID=146618 and
– Mod.DHA]

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Wheat crops under severe septoria pressure in some areas

Richard Halleron

May 2, 2023 2:30 pm

Wheat crops under severe septoria pressure in some areas

Agronomist Richard Owens has confirmed that winter wheat crops are under severe septoria pressure across most parts of counties Down and Antrim at the present time.

“Growers will have an opportunity to get a T1 spray on over the coming days,” he said.

“And they must take it. The mix should comprise a good SDHI [succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor], a triazole and folpet. A growth regulator should also be included in the tank.”

According to Owens, most wheat crops within his catchment are at growth stage 31.

“The very wet conditions during March encouraged a lot of the disease-related issues that are apparent now. And with ground conditions so poor at the time, many farmers failed to get a T0 mix on to crops,” he explained

“For the most part wheat crops are falling into two broad categories this year. Those planted last September and early October are looking well.

“However, those that went in prior to Christmas and into early January have a lot of catching up to do. It’s imperative that all remaining nitrogen should be applied to crops over the coming days.”

Turning to winter barley crops, Owens confirmed that Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV) did not seem to be a problem this year.

“But we won’t get a full handle on the matter until the ears have emerged. Most crops are at growth stage 37, with the flag leaf emerged,” he said.

Septoria is a real challenge within winter wheat crops at the present time

Again, Owens is advising that these crops should receive their T1 spray as a matter of priority.

“Rhynchosporium and Net Blotch are major disease challenges within barley crops at the present time,” he commented.

Richard recommends a T1 mix comprising a strong SDHI, a triazole and an appropriate growth regulator.

“There are a lot of very yellow-looking crops across the country at the present time. This indicates to me that they are hungry and in need of a nutritional boost,” he continued.

“Trace element requirements should be checked out. Manganese deficiencies can rear their head in barley crops at this time of the year.

According to the Co. Down-based agronomist, adding seaweed extracts can help boost backward-looking crops.

“A case can also be made for applying foliar nitrogen in certain instances,” he said.

Where spring planting is concerned, Owens indicated that most barley crops are now in the ground.

“The weather looks set to improve over the coming days. This will give farmers an opportunity to finish off planting their spring barley crops,” he stated.

“After that, it will be a case of getting on with forage maize and whatever whole crop options they are looking at this year.”

Also Read: Weather to start dry this week, but turning unsettled


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Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing are delighted to announce the publication of two new titles focused on entomology.

Advances in monitoring of native and invasive insect pests of crops, edited by Dr Michelle Fountain NIAB-EMR, UK and Dr Tom Pope Harper Adams University, UK.

With its considered approach, the book explores current best practices for the detection, identification and modelling of native and invasive insect pests of crops.

Advances in understanding insect pests affecting wheat and other cereals, edited by Professor Sanford D. Eigenbrode, University of Idaho, USA and Dr Arash Rashed, Virginia Tech, USA.

This collection discusses the most recent developments in fundamental and applied research on major pests and shows how better understanding of these pests can be used to improve integrated pest management strategies.

*Special Offer*

Receive 20% off your order of either book using code PEST20 via the BDS Website. Discount code expires 30th June 2023.

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Peacocks wreak havoc on crops in West Bengal

Several hundred farmers in the rural areas of Kalimpong district of West Bengal need to protect their crops from peacocks. In several parts of Kalimpong, where rice, chilies, vegetables, millet, flowers and fruits grow in abundance, peacocks – the national bird – have come to be a headache for most farmers, many of whom have incurred losses and shifted to crops like maize that do not attract the birds as much.

Others have taken to building temporary huts in the fields where they spend the night to protect the crops from peacocks and peahens who usually come to the farms in the early hours of the morning.

The growers cannot harm these birds, as they are protected by law.

Source: newsdrum.in

Publication date: Mon 3 Apr 2023

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Scientists Warn of Insects Damaging Plants at Unprecedented Levels

TOPICS:FossilsInsectPaleontologyUniversity Of Wyoming


Insect-Damaged Leaf Fossil

This fossil leaf from Wyoming’s Hanna Basin, about 54 million years old, shows damage by insects. Credit: Lauren Azevedo-Schmidt

Insects today are causing unprecedented levels of damage to plants, even as insect numbers decline, according to new research led by scientists from the University of Wyoming.

In the first-of-its-kind study, insect herbivore damage of modern-era plants was compared with that of fossilized leaves from as far back as the Late Cretaceous period, nearly 67 million years ago. The findings were recently published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Our work bridges the gap between those who use fossils to study plant-insect interactions over deep time and those who study such interactions in a modern context with fresh leaf material,” says the lead researcher, University of Wyoming Ph.D. graduate Lauren Azevedo-Schmidt, now a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Maine. “The difference in insect damage between the modern era and the fossilized record is striking.”

Azevedo-Schmidt conducted the research along with the University of Wyoming Department of Botany and Department of Geology and Geophysics Professor Ellen Currano, and Assistant Professor Emily Meineke of the University of California-Davis.

Lauren Azevedo-Schmidt Fossilized Plant Search

Lauren Azevedo-Schmidt searches for fossilized plants in Wyoming’s Hanna Basin in a deposit that is about 60 million years old. She and other researchers compared fossil leaves with modern samples and found higher rates of insect damage today. Credit: Lauren Azevedo-Schmidt

In the study, fossilized leaves with insect feeding damage from the Late Cretaceous through the Pleistocene era, a little over 2 million years ago, were examined. They were then compared with leaves collected from three modern forests by Azevedo-Schmidt. The detailed research looked at different types of damage caused by insects, finding marked increases in all recent damage compared to the fossil record.

“Our results demonstrate that plants in the modern era are experiencing unprecedented levels of insect damage, despite widespread insect declines,” wrote the scientists, who suggest that the disparity can be explained by human activity.

Although more research is necessary to determine the precise causes of increased insect damage to plants, the scientists say a warming climate, urbanization, and the introduction of invasive species likely have had a major impact.

“We hypothesize that humans have influenced (insect) damage frequencies and diversities within modern forests, with the most human impact occurring after the Industrial Revolution,” the researchers wrote. “Consistent with this hypothesis, herbarium specimens from the early 2000s were 23 percent more likely to have insect damage than specimens collected in the early 1900s, a pattern that has been linked to climate warming.”

But climate change doesn’t fully explain the increase in insect damage, they say.

“This research suggests that the strength of human influence on plant-insect interactions is not controlled by climate change alone but, rather, the way in which humans interact with the terrestrial landscape,” the researchers concluded.

Reference: “Insect herbivory within modern forests is greater than fossil localities” by Lauren Azevedo-Schmidt, Emily K. Meineke and Ellen D. Curran, 10 October 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2202852119

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UMaine News

A photo of a leaf damage
Photo by Sarah Fanning, courtesy of Lauren Azevedo-Schmidt.

Insects cause more damage to leaves in recent history than millions of years ago, study finds 

October 12, 2022 

Insect herbivores have caused more damage to plant matter from leaves in recent history than millions of years ago, according to a new study led by a University of Maine postdoctoral researcher. 

Despite global insect decline and biodiversity loss fueled by human activity, the frequency of leaf damage by insects among forest plants in recent history, post-1955, is more than twice that of vegetation from the Pleistocene, 2.06 million years ago, and the Late Cretaceous period, 66.8 million years ago. The unprecedented increase in insect damage on leaf matter could pose negative effects on plant productivity and forest health.

To conduct their study, Lauren Azevedo-Schmidt, a postdoctoral researcher with UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, and her colleagues collected leaf samples deposited within sediment across three modern forest ecosystems — Harvard Forest in Massachusetts, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland, and La Selva in Costa Rica — and compared them to previously published leaf litter and fossil data. 

The research team, which also includes Emily Meineke of University of California, Davis and Ellen Currano of the University of Wyoming, used radiocarbon dates to verify the ages of modern leaves along with quantifying the frequency and diversity of insect damage in each sample.  

The causes of this increase in leaf damage due to insect herbivores and the specific consequences of it remain unknown. However, researchers believe widespread change influenced by human activity, such as the rate of global warming, urbanization and the introduction of invasive plants and insects, could be driving the uptick. Human activity may have drastically changed how insect herbivores are interacting with their food source, the researchers say. 

The research team published their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 

“Humans understand that climate is always changing and that the Earth has previously been hotter, but we often can’t grasp the ‘oddity’ of modern climate change,” Azevedo-Schmidt says. “The geologic record reported here should have supported comparable levels of insect herbivory, but it didn’t because humans weren’t present in our post-industrial revolution capacity. This shows the heartbreaking reality that humans have a much higher impact on forest ecosystems than increased atmospheric CO2 alone. However, we can work to minimize our impacts on forest ecosystems by considering the intersection of these findings.” 

The researchers also found that the damage caused by insects in leaf samples from recent history is slightly more diverse than that in fossilized leaves. The increase in leaf damage diversity, however, is not as drastic as the spike in damage frequency. 

Researchers examined total damage frequency and diversity along with various types of damage including specialized, piercing and sucking, surface feeding, hole feeding, galling, mining, skeletonization, margin feeding and specialized damage. In addition to discovering an overall uptick in total damage frequency, the team also found an increase across all groupings of damage. 

“Increased insect feeding can’t be explained by one group of insects but rather, all groups of feeding damage analyzed here,” Azevedo-Schmidt says. “This suggests that all insect herbivores within these three modern forests are increasing their feeding damage; complicating the story as we can’t simply blame one species or group.” 

No correlation was identified between damage diversity and frequency, according to researchers. The drivers behind the uptick in damage diversity are also unknown. 

“This is interesting because it suggests that insect diversity isn’t influencing insect feeding frequency and that other drivers are responsible for the drastic increase we are seeing,” Azevedo-Schmidt says. 

According to researchers, insects and plants possess the most diverse lineages on the planet, and how they interact has evolved over millennia in response to natural and unnatural causes. 

How plant-insect relationships change over time, including the extent to which the latter feeds on the former, has implications for biodiversity, plant functionality and mortality, and carbon balance in forests — the loss of plant life can decrease the ability for a forest to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.

“This study is the first to compare similar records of plant-insect interactions across modern and fossil datasets,” Azevedo-Schmidt says. “These findings highlight the importance of humans interacting with landscapes and although climate change influences ecosystem processes, it is not the only factor we need to consider. Humans are agents of disturbance and dispersal, greatly influencing the natural world around us.” 

Contact: Marcus Wolf, 207.581.3721; marcus.wolf@maine.edu

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Invasive species prevention ‘could save trillions’


The army fall worm, an invasive species that causes degradation of ecosystems and threaten the lives and livelihoods of people. Copyright: CABI

Speed read

  • Invasive species damages cost ten times more than prevention – study
  • Control, eradication measures often come too late
  • Losses hit agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and health systems

By: Claudia Caruana

 The cost of damage caused by invasive species around the world, including to agriculturefisheries, and forestry, is at least 10 times that of preventing or controlling them, an international study suggests.

The research, published in Science of the Total Environment earlier this month, highlights the huge economic burden of invasive species and says their prevention could save trillions of US dollars.

Invasive species are non-native species that often harm the new environment they populate. They are a threat to biodiversity, can cause degradation of ecosystems and, in some regions, threaten the lives and livelihoods of people affected.

Lead researcher Ross Cuthbert, from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, in Northern Ireland, said: “Once invasive species have established and are spreading, it can be difficult to eradicate them. Delayed control measures often are not only costly, but frequently are unsuccessful in the long-term.”

The research team, consisting of scientists from 17 institutions, constructed and used a global database compiling economic costs of invasive species, which enabled comparisons to be made across different scales and contexts.

“It is difficult to convince decision-makers to invest in something that is not yet a problem, but our research clearly shows the value in taking a preventative approach.”

Ross Cuthbert, lead researcher, School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast

They found that since 1960 the global management of invasive species has cost at least US$95 billion worldwide, while damage costs have reached at least US$1,131 billion over the same period.

Losses have hit the agriculture and forestry sectors in the form of production declines and infrastructural damage, as well as global healthcare systems through the spreading of diseases, the researchers said.

The team quantified costs according to different management types at a global scale and developed and applied a model to predict the additional costs of management delay, using the available data.

Only a fraction of the expenditure on invasive species management went on proactive prevention measures, the study found. Most ($73 billion) was spent on control or eradication measures when damage is already underway.

“By the time we see the impact that invasive species are having on the environment, it is often too late as they have already established and spread widely,” said Cuthbert.

“It is difficult to convince decision-makers to invest in something that is not yet a problem, but our research clearly shows the value in taking a preventative approach.”

Biological invasions are one of the largest threats to biodiversity, but there has been insufficient investment to reduce rates of invasion and their impacts on ecosystems and economies, he added.

The researchers found that developing countries in particular are investing little in the management of biological invasions.

According to CABI, the parent organisation of SciDev.Net which works to address environmental challenges such as invasive species, millions of the world’s most vulnerable people face problems with invasive weeds, insects, plant diseases and animals.

“These alien species arrive in different ways, including ballast water and wood packing materials,” said Cuthbert, warning: “In the future, as trade, tourism, and material transport intensify to these regions alongside economic development, more invasive species will establish and cause adverse impact because invasions are closely linked to globalisation.”

He said Africa, Asia, and South America had incurred hundreds of billions of dollars in damage from invasions but had invested only a few million in pre-invasion management.

“Without more effective prevention measures pre-invasion, these costs will continue to rise and hamper their sustainable development,” he added. “Developing countries must improve their capacity to respond to and manage biological invasions to avoid being disproportionately impacted in future.”

Investments should focus on measures such as effective biosecurity to prevent invasive species from arriving in the first place, as well as research to record new invasions, develop management measures, and understand the economic and ecosystem impacts, the researcher suggested.

Lee Hannah, a senior scientist at Conservation International’s Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science, in the US, told SciDev.Net: “The bottom line is that we are spending far too little to care for nature by preventing species invasions, and we are paying trillions of dollars in damages as a result.”

Hannah cited South Africa as an example where the costs of managing invasions have exceeded the alternative costs of prevention. He said the country spends more than $25 million each year removing aggressive invasive plants such as the black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) tree, which has a number of harmful environmental impacts.

“This makes sense because replacing black wattle with native species increases water available from watersheds and the removal programme creates jobs,” said Hannah. “But a less expensive answer would have been to guard against black wattle spread from forestry plantations in the first place. A few million dollars invested in keeping black wattle from spreading could have avoided hundreds of millions in damages.”

This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Global desk.

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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) 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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Western flower thrips infest chilli crops in thousands of acres in Nalgonda

Chilli farmers are facing huge losses in Nalgonda and Suryapet districts due to infesting of western flower thrips to the horticulture crop in thousands of acres of land. The farmers took up cultivation of chilli crop in 27,472 acres in Suryapet district and in 3,073 acres on Nalgonda.

More than 28 thousand tonnes of chilli crop is estimated to be produced in Suryapet and Nalgonda districts. On an average, around 12 tonnes of chilli crop would be produced per an acre. But, the farmers could get just 10 percent of the expected yield i.e. around six quintal per acre due to infesting of western flower thrips. The situation also shown impact on the green chilli prices in the vegetable markets. The price of green chilli was increased to Rs 80 per kg. The price of red chilli may also become dearer in the next couple of months.

A farmer Aludasu Venkaiah, who was native of Loyapally in Suryapet district, has leveled his four months old chilli farm in his one acre agriculture land using a tractor due to infestation of western thrips. He spent Rs 1.7 lakhs for investment of chilli cultivation, but resorted to act after losing hope that he would get even get one quintal of chilli.

Speaking to Telangana Today, Venkaiah said that he purchased chilli nurseries from a nursery in Khammam district. Infest of the thrips was impacting the chilli farms at the flowering stage. Labour charges for plucking of chilies would be more than the price to get from the crop, hence he has decided to remove the chilli farm. He requested the State government to extend compensation to save the farmers.

Read more at telanganatoday.com

Publication date: Mon 7 Feb 2022

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HLB can infect an entire tree weeks before symptoms become apparent

Brazilian scientists have been able to measure the speed of a bacterium that causes the incurable citrus greening disease (Huanglongbing). HLB is the most devastating citrus disease in the world. Afflicted trees grow yellow leaves and low-quality fruit and eventually stop producing altogether.

Silvio A. Lopes, a plant pathologist based at Fundecitrus, research institution maintained by citrus growers of the State of Sao Paulo in Brazil: “We found that CLas can move at average speed of 2.9 to 3.8 cm per day. At these speeds a tree that is 3 meters in height will be fully colonized by CLas in around 80 to 100 days, and this is faster than the symptoms appear, which generally takes at least 4 months.”

Lopes and colleagues also studied the impact of temperature on the speed of colonization. They already knew that CLas does not multiply well in hot or cold environments, but now they have more specific data.

“We estimated that 25.7°C (78°F) was the best condition for CLas to move from one side to the other side of the tree,” said Lopes. This is the first time impact of temperature on plant colonization of CLas has been experimentally demonstrated. “The grower can use this information to select areas less risky for planting citrus trees.”

Source: eurekalert.org

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