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→
Unlike chemical insecticides, biological control products often contain a living organism. These living organisms are typically reared on artificial diets in controlled environments to sustain a high quality consistent product. However, rearing living organisms is a lot more finicky than mixing chemicals to make a chemical insecticide. The size of the organism, the female to male ratio, their lifespan, and rate of release can all affect the efficacy of the biological control. Although the biocontrol companies do some quality control work on their end, the product may decrease in quality through shipment. That’s why it is encouraged that growers do a quality control check on their biological controls to ensure that they’ve received a quality product.
There is an increasing trend towards organic and natural products – from food, cosmetics, and even down to the choice in pesticides. It’s not uncommon for people to lean towards or prefer a pesticide that is ‘natural’. After all, an unnatural pesticide will be more harmful, right? However, there’s a discrepancy between perceived safety of ‘natural’ and the reality. For starters, there seems to be no regulation on the word “natural”. As the FDA puts it,
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.
Drosophila suzukii, Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), is an invasive pest that attacks several soft-bodied fruit, such as cherries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and grapes. Similar in size to the common fruit fly, except the females have a serrated ovipositor (organ used for depositing eggs), allowing them to lay eggs in fruit just before harvest. As a result, the fruit can be unfit for fresh markets by the time they are harvested, resulting in crop loss. If you would like to send samples to confirm SWD identification, please use the spotted wing drosophila submission form.
The eriophyid mite, Phyllocoptes fructiphilus, can vector a virus of roses, known as rose rosette. Although rose rosette is nothing new, there have been more reports of it recently in east Texas. Keep an eye open for symptoms. Continue reading Eriophyid Mite→
A new invasive scale of crape myrtles has recently been detected. Current evidences suggest that the species is Eriococcus lagerostroemia, a native to the plant host to Lagerostroemia sp., also found in China, Japan, Korea, India, Mongolia, South Korea and United Kingdom.