Category Archives: General

General blog category

Chris Knight – Ext. Demonstration Tech

Christopher Knight is a graduate from Texas Tech University with a B.Sc. in Horticulture and Turfgrass Science, where he was a member of the Honor Society for Ornamental Horticulture (Pi Alpha xi).  He previously worked for the Texas Tech University Library and currently works part-time for the Tyler Junior College library, providing him with the skills required to conduct literature research and shush disruptive library pests. Mr. Knight also spent time as a Lawn Specialist for TruGreen, the nations largest lawn company, giving him practical experiencing in landscaping and working with ornamentals.  Mr. Knight enjoys spending his free time hunting and fishing, as well as continuing as a hobbyist horticulturalist.       

 Mr. Knight will be assisting with research on the crapemyrtle bark scale this summer, as well as assisting in projects to test the impact of new pesticides on plant health and insect management.

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Extension Demonstration Tech – Adolfo Nieto

Adolfo Nieto is a recent graduate from The University of Texas at Tyler with a bachelors in Biology. As an undergraduate, he began his career as a researcher through the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in a project to design non-invasive sampling methods to identify the virology involved in Colony Collapse Disorder of native bumblebees. He has a deep felt passion for conservation and hopes his enthusiasm transcends through his work at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Extension Center in Overton, Texas where he will be involved in several projects targeted at prevention and management of invasive insect species such as the crape myrtle bark scale and conduct work on pollinator attractiveness to different flowers. Adolfo is happy to be part of such a great team and looks forward to facing the challenges and opportunities future research will bring.  

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The Genetically Modified Mosquito

I was recently asked a series of questions on the release of the genetically modified mosquito produced by Oxitec. Snippets of my responses were published in a Forbes Opinion Article entitled “You can help stop these deadly mosquitoes“, written by Kavin Senapathy, who also asks a number of other scientists questions related to the potential release of the Oxitec Mosquito in the Florida Keys .

Here is my email below:

Do the benefits of the pilot release of Oxitec mosquitoes in the Florida Keys outweigh the risks? What are the real risks, and how do they compare with public perception of the risks?

Continue reading The Genetically Modified Mosquito

What’s the Buzz about the Bees

The Beepocalypse

 A quick glance at the news paints a grim picture for bees in the future, with title articles such as “Honey, we shrunk the bees: mass extinction threat for beloved insect?”, “The bee all end all: why should we care that the bees are dying?” and “Dying honeybees, and the uncertain future of honey” make us feel like we are on an inevitable slope to losing all of our bees and horrible puns (including this article’s title) simultaneously. Bee health started becoming a great cause of public concern around 2006, when colonies were seemingly left completely abandoned, with capped brood and queen bees still in the hive. Beekeepers were losing more than double the accepted colony loss rate (15% to >30%) Continue reading What’s the Buzz about the Bees

Six-Legged Aggie Research Extension Technician – Patrick Rydzak

Patrick Rydzak began work at the Six Legged Aggie Lab in June of 2015, and is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler with a Master’s degree in Biology.   Patrick received his Bachelors of Science degree in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston before returning to his home town of Tyler, Texas to earn his Master’s degree, with an ultimate goal of achieving a Ph.D.  In the meantime, Patrick is hard at work in Dr. Blake Bextine’s molecular vector entomology laboratory at the University of Texas at Tyler, as well as assisting IPM specialist Erfan Vafaie with work  at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Extension Center in Overton, Texas.  Patrick is involved in researching  the relatively new invasive pest, crapemyrtle bark scale, and has spearheaded several efficacy trials to test new products for the greenhouse ornamental and nursery industry. Patrick is excited to be a part of the Six Legged Aggie Team and encourages any questions or advice you may have!

Woolly Aphids

There have been several reports of woolly aphid infestations in East Texas within the last few weeks. Woolly aphids are often described as being small white flying insects found on leaves. Just like all other aphids, they penetrate leaf veins and feed primarily on the phloem. In doing so, they excrete a lot of the excess phloem in the form of “honeydew” – a sugary solution which often ends up on nearby leaf surfaces or on the ground near the infested tree. A high level of infestation often results in a sticky ground and grass below the infested tree and the appearance of black sooty mold where honeydew has coated a surface. Black sooty mold will appear as a satin bumpy black substance (hence the name “sooty mold”) on the honeydew-coated surface. Continue reading Woolly Aphids

Summer Student – Jonathan Nemati

Jonathan Nemati joined the Six Legged Aggie Lab in early May of 2015. He is a senior student at LeTourneau University, where he is studying Biology.

Although he started in his father’s footsteps by studying engineering physics, he found himself more passionate about his grandfather’s career in ecology and environmental studies, which led him to change his major at the end of his sophomore year.  As such, Jon has good analytical and computing skills combined with his interest in living organisms and their interactions.

He has had an interest in wildlife since he was little, collecting and observing a wide variety of wildlife as a hobby and studying from a number of internet and text sources. His interest in insects began before he was able to read himself, asking his parents and brothers to read him books about insects such as Insects of the Los Angeles Basin (Hogue 1993), however, his primary interest is in the field of herpetology.His other hobbies include reading, hiking, hunting and a wide variety of sports. He intends to pursue graduate studies in ecology after graduating with his bachelors of science.

Jon will be primarily assisting Erfan Vafaie with work on the crape myrtle bark scale, as well as dabbling in other projects and general maintenance for the Six Legged Aggie venture.

Socrative – Online Polling Software

I’ve been searching for a while for audience polling software that uses smartphones/internet enabled devices and is free. I had some good experiences with kahoot.it, except it’s a bit limited in what you can do.

I’ve been quite interested in participoll as well, except it’s not available for mac computers yet (which is what I use). Participoll has the great advantage of integrating into your powerpoint presentation, so you don’t have to leave to your web browser every time you want to poll the audience. I haven’t had an opportunity to try it yet though, so I’m not sure how well it works.

Socrative recently updated their interface; I tried it before, and it was rather unappealing and not very user-friendly. I was getting desperate, so I decided to try it again recently. I was very impressed with their changes and it’s definitely a very strong viable option. Currently running in “beta”, they are offering their services for free and the system is designed to take around 50 students. One can try more students, but they state they are not setup for it.

Here’s a video showing a quick tour:

Here are some screenshots from the mobile device (Android Galaxy S4):

Crape myrtle bark scale efficacy trial

Summary:

Efficacy of a horticultural oil + insect growth regulator mix (SuffOil-X + Molt-X) and two imidacloprid formulations (Bayer Tree and Shrub; Fertilome Tree & Shrub Systemic Insect Drench) were tested for control of bark scale (Eriococcus lagerostroemia) on crapemyrtles at LeTourneau University. There was a trend towards decreasing alive scales and decreasing alive:dead scale ratio with time, especially by the fifth week in all treatments (including the control). The systemic insecticides (imidacloprid) demonstrated a decrease in alive:dead scale ratio two weeks after treatment, whereas contact treatments showed a decrease one week after treatment (horticultural oil + insect growth regulator). Since the control also showed decrease in scale populations, in some cases before other treatments, the efficacy of the insecticides studied here are inconclusive.

Continue reading Crape myrtle bark scale efficacy trial