Dr. Samuel Vezenegho

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Dr. Samuel Vezenegho is has been added as an invaluable member of the SixLegged Aggie Team. He earned his PhD in Medical Entomology and a Master of Science with distinction in Molecular Cell Biology, from the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. During this time, he focused on the systematics and insecticide resistance mechanisms in African malaria mosquito vectors. Dr. Vezenegho completed a post-doctoral fellowship as a lead scientist with Institute Pasteur, Cayenne, French Guinea, where he elucidated malaria transmission mechanisms in different epidemiological context. He has presented his research findings at international conferences, supervised team of researchers in the field and published over 10 peer review scholarly articles in international journals linkedin.com/in/samuel-vezenegho.

Dr. Vezenegho’s current research interest aim to use cutting edge molecular biology techniques to answer key questions that will unravel insecticide resistance mechanisms and  vector competence in both mosquito vectors and agricultural insect pest. His ultimate goal is to develop novel vector control tools that will form a vital component in integrated pest management strategy.

Are you wondering if Dr. Samuel Vezenegho has a life outside of science? Wonder no more, yes, he does! Affectionately known as Samy Vez in the dance scene, he is a long-time social dancer and a dance instructor who teaches Kizomba, a partner dance from Angola. He was a finalist in the Urban Kiz category of the 2018 North America Kizomba Olympiads. He has learned invaluable leadership skills from top-notch leaders in the sciences, and from teaching partner dance. He has also done copious amounts of leadership research, which he combined with his lived experience to develop a Kizomba-based leadership training course for teams and organizations.

Texas A&M Greenhouse and Nursery Webinar Series – 2020

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Greenhouse and Nursery Webinar Series

We are particularly excited about our Greenhouse and Nursery Webinar Series this year. This program has traditionally been a single-day in-person program with 5 speakers (Texas A&M Greenhouse and Nursery Symposium). However, due to concerns surrounding COVID-19 this year, we have opted for converting this program into a web series. This gives the attendees the ability to only register for talks that are most relevant to them and gives us the flexibility to invite speakers from all across the nation. See below for speaker and registration information.

When?

End of November till second week in December, from 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm each day. See speakers below for specific dates.

Where?

Online through Zoom. Registration is separate for each speaker. See below for details.
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Pradia and UpTake – Green Peach Aphid Suppression

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We tested Pradia as a foliar and three different drench rate applications, as well as KleenGrow as a foliar application, to suppress green peach aphids on potted pansies.

Pradia as a foliar application may have provided greater suppression by 3 days after treatment compared to the drench applications; however, all Pradia treatments (all drench rates and foliar application) provided very good suppression (>95%) of green peach aphids by 7 days after treatment.

KleenGrow provided suppression of aphids by 3 days after treatment (~50%), which resulted in reduced aphids throughout the trial.

For the full report, visit the publication in Arthropod Management Tests:

Erfan Vafaie, Christine Pawlik, Insecticidal Control of Green Peach Aphid on Pansies, 2020, Arthropod Management Tests, Volume 45, Issue 1, 2020, tsaa096, https://doi.org/10.1093/amt/tsaa096

Mean aphids (+/- standard error) per caged pansy for each treatment at 0, 3, 7, and 14 days after initial treatment application.

Landscape and Ornamental Pests

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This slide set is intended for the Master Volunteer Entomology Training on October 14th, 2020. The set contains information on general integrated pest management, basics of insect identification (larval forms), covers basics of some of the most common culprits (life cycles and identification), and covers management basics.

Landscape and Ornamental Pest Management Presentation Handout

Master Gardener Entomology Training – IPM V2

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The PDF presentation slide set provided in this post are an updated version of the IPM section of the master gardener entomology training. All other components stayed as the original and can be found here. The updated slide set contains additional information about insect trapping and pesticide toxicity.

2019 Texas A&M Greenhouse & Nursery Symposium

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Greenhouse and Nursery Symposium

We are particularly excited about our annual Greenhouse and Nursery Program held here in Overton, TX. We have a great line-up of speakers, including one many of you may be familiar with. Dr. Karl Steddom worked as a plant pathologist with Texas A&M before starting a career in remote sensing technologies, precision agriculture, and other ‘tech’-related ventures in agriculture with the company AGERpoint. We will also have some familiar faces coming back to deliver some topics time-relevant to our green industry personnel in Texas. See below for more details and we hope to see you here on December 3rd, 2019.

When?

December 3, 2019
Time: 8:30 am – 3:00 pm
Lunch is included.

Where?

Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center,
1710 N. FM 3053, Overton, TX
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Christine Bays – Extension Demonstration Technician

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Christine and David working on mealybug trialChristine Bays joined the Six-Legged Aggie Lab in May of 2019. She is a Sophomore at the University of Texas at Tyler and is earning her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. Christine also works in an Ant Symbiosis Lab at UT Tyler, studying the relationship between fungus-gardening ants and their fungus. Christine is currently considering pursuing pharmacy school, assuming she doesn’t get bit by the ferocious entomology bug! 

This summer, Christine will be helping with research on crapemyrtle bark scale, whitefly biological control, mealybug insecticide efficacy, and other small research trials. We are excited to have her as a part of the six legged aggie team this summer.

In her free time, Christine likes to take care of the vegetable and flower gardens her family grows. She also enjoys playing video games, swimming, going to the movies, and drinking coffee. She also loves animals and has two cats of her own.

Guyana F2F Wrap-up: Trainings and Visits

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From June 16th till the 30th, I was in Guyana as a part of a two-week volunteer project through US AID Farmer-to-Farmer program, administered through Partners of the Americas. The whole first week was spent visiting farmers to learn about their pest challenges and pest management materials that can be sourced locally. You can read more about those visits in the four separate posts below:

During the last week, I conducted a series of workshops/trainings to help identify some of the key pests the farmers were facing and how to manage them; whether preventatively, physically, or even with the responsible use of pesticides.

Training Material

In the four posts I wrote after visiting the farms, I identify some of the key crop challenges. On some farms, we found: Fifty percent of young coconut trees lost to rhinoceros beetle, 60% loss of watermelons to rind necrosis, 100% of guava fruit lost to guava fruit fly, most of the soursop fruit containing soursop seed borer damage, tomato leaf curl virus vectored by whiteflies, bacterial leaf spot on peppers, and leafminers on shallots, just to name a few. I spent the better part of my first weekend in Guyana learning more about these particular pests, learning about locally available pesticides (and prices), and created some presentations on managing some of the identified challenges. If you’re interested, I have posted the presentations in PDF format and related resources for convenience: Farmer-to-Farmer: Guyana 2019 Resources

The Trainings

The setting of the trainings were, of course, rather different than what I am accustomed to in the US. In the US, we are indoors with air conditioning, have control of lighting & the environment in general, have reliable electricity, and breakfast consists of donuts and sweet tea. I was prepared to expect none of the above (I know… even the sweet tea!), since some of the locations we visited did not even have electricity. For our very first training, we used a gas-powered generator – and other than it being a bit loud (the generator) and a bit sweaty, it went rather smooth.

I feel inclined to mention that the generator ran out of gas about 3/4th of the way through, resulting in the projector spontaneously shutting off, but that didn’t slow us down too much. I talk a lot with my hands and can pretty convincing act like many of the insects that I’m describing.

*Be the aphid… be the aphid…*

Of course all of the farmer groups were incredibly attentive, but I certainly learned a lesson for next time. In my presentations, I was trying to provide as many resource and information as I could, relevant to their production. Sometimes that information would, for example, be a few different insecticides that they could rotate through, in order to minimize insecticide resistance. However, I noticed very quickly that no one was taking any notes. For some, it was because they were illiterate or very low level of literacy – of course they aren’t going to take notes! For others, I think a part of it is that they just never learned or thought to take notes. Only one group (The permaculture group) took notes throughout the presentation and asked for handouts/PDFs, likely due to the fact that they are all working professions in various fields that take up backyard farming as a hobby. Next time I do such a training program, I’ll have to consider methods of driving specific messages home, whether it be with physical gestures/actions, demonstrations, or repetition – all ways to help them remember the material, rather than relying on them taking notes.

I had a few other “firsts” – I have never had a situation in which my projector screen starts blowing away in the wind. Nor have I ever had to speak over goats or pigs right next to me while presenting. I would imagine that our livestock specialists have faced similar situations to that – but a bit unique for an entomologist.

One Last Farm Tour

After one of our trainings, one of the farmers (California Youth Group) was kind enough to show us more of their farm. This was the same farm we visited last week and ate all kinds of incredible fruit! Well, turns out, they have more and more plots of land, hidden behind creeks and more bush.

We had a blast tasting different fruit right off the tree (passion fruit and some species of citrus), as well as learning more about native plants, irrigation/drainage, and the opportunities for future Ag Tourism in the area.

The Last Leg

On my last official ‘working’ day in Guyana, I provided a workshop for the permaculture group. My presentation for them was quite different from the others for two reasons; (1) they are more interested in creating habitats to naturally suppress pests and some yield loss is tolerated, and (2) insect/disease identification needed strengthening (at least, from my experience visiting them the previous week). What’s surprising was that, although farming is just a hobby for this group, they are incredibly enthusiastic and delighted to learn more. I hope that their passion for farming leads them to seek future opportunities to help local farmers.

One of the things I taught this group was how to identify beneficial insects from pests, using lacewing eggs as one example. We have lacewing insects in the USA as well – a small green “fly” that lays eggs on single threads. The young (larvae) emerge from those eggs and look for soft-bodied insects to feed on. To the unacquainted eye, lacewing eggs can look like some type of fungus or mold and treated as such, but in fact, should be left alone to emerge and eat all of the bad bugs. It was particularly rewarding when the local F2F coordinator shared with me the next day a message that a member of the permaculture group had sent in a WhatsApp message, containing a great image of some lacewing eggs and the message “I was able to identify the lacewing eggs in the pic… learning is taking over”. Moments like these are incredibly rewarding – to know that the information you were trying to relay was assimilated and already being used by those in attendance!

The two weeks in Guyana were not only a great personal experience, but also a great opportunity professionally. I met many kind, generous, and hardworking souls, but also learned about some pests and diseases that are currently rare in Texas, but are important to recognize to prevent future outbreaks. They also have certain pests that we do not have yet – so being able to learn about them in Guyana will help any future research/work we need to do in Texas if they ever get here.