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

What the science says on the impact of neonicotinoids on our pollinators

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 8.51.49 AMThis presentation, delivered both for the East Texas Beekeepers Association and at the Overton Field day (2015), gives some components to consider when looking at the impact of neonics on pollinators. The general public is very quick to call upon a ban on neonics for killing our bees – but the situation is really not that simple. In this presentation, I try to shed light on both sides of the argument that neonics are responsible for pollinator population decline.

 

 

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):

Insecticide Resistance Action Committee

If you are using pesticides on a regular basis (i.e. a weekly rotation), it’s vital that you rotate your chemicals in order to decrease the change of your pest becoming resistant.

Pesticide resistance is not uncommon among insects. According to “Global Pesticide Resistance in Arthropods” (Whalon et al., 2008), there have been over 7747 insecticide resistance cases reported! Continue reading Insecticide Resistance Action Committee

Quality Control of Biological Control

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.

A research scientist, Dr. Rose Buitenhuis, from the Vineland Research and Innovation Center has put together a nifty publication Continue reading Quality Control of Biological Control

Growing flowering plants that are safe for pollinators in the yard and garden

Protecting your pollinatorsA presentation delivered by Dr. David Smitley from Michigan State University (Department of Entomology) on “Growing Flowering Plants that are Safe for Pollinators in the Yard and Garden” presented at the 19th Annual Ornamental Workshop on Diseases and Insects. The presentation focuses primarily on neonicotinoids, which have received a lot of media and public attention recently. (Sharing with permission from Dr. Smitley).