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”
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!
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”
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.
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):
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.
On June 24th and 25th (2014), a number of Texas A&M AgriLife personnel set out to McKinney to collect data on susceptibility of different varieties of crape myrtles to the new invasive pest, crape myrtle bark scale (CMBS). McKinney is home to over 114 varieties of crape myrtles from all over the world, making it a great site to investigate the preference of CMBS for certain cultivars and varieties. Follow the gallery below to see how the research was carried out.
McKinney – home to the crape myrtle world collection park. Naturally a great place to look for crape myrtle bark scale infestations.
McKinney crape myrtle bark scale infestation assessment team (2014). From left to right, Dr. Mike Merchant, Neil Sperry, (front) Dr. Mengmeng Gu, (back) Erfan Vafaie, Laura Miller, Janet Laminack.
McKinney crape myrtle bark scale infestation assessment team (2014). From left to right, Dr. Mike Merchant, Susan Owens, (front) Dr. Mengmeng Gu, (back) Erfan Vafaie, Laura Miller, Janet Laminack.
Dr. Gu, Extension Horticulturalist from College Station, can barely stand the site of infested crape myrtles.
First step, assess overall infestation.
Using a scale from 1 (low) to 9 (high), researchers determined the level of scale infestation by visual observation.
In addition to level of infestation, level of sooty mold coverage is also assessed.
Water sensitive cards can be used to estimate the level of infestation. The excreted honeydew from the scales hits the card and turns it blue. This is an example of a highly infested tree.
Ms. Laminack measures the circumference of the trunks.
Dr. Gu recording the data.
A few branches were cut from each tree to assess infestation levels under a microscope.
Every branch has to go into a labelled bag!
Crape myrtle bark scale on the main trunk
Sooty mold on some cultivars gave them an appealing pattern.
High level of crape myrtle bark scale on upper branches. Two lady beetle larva are amidst the scales, presumably having a casual afternoon buffet.
Very high level of crape myrtle bark scale infestation.
Although many trees were infested, the blooms were still gorgeous.
The excreted honeydew can serve as a meal for wasps.
Classic thrips damage at the tips of the flowers.
Acrobat ant (Crematogaster spp.) swarm! The ‘swarmers’ are winged.
Queen acrobat ant takes a break. It’s been a long day for her.
Praying mantis eggs case? If it is, great! Praying mantids are predators of many unwanted pests.
Adult lacewing, a predatory insect that eats a lot of pests.
Wheel bug, a type of assassin bug (predatory) that apparently has a nasty bite. It’s pretty, but no touchy!
Crape myrtle trails span across the road medians in McKinney.
Looks a lot like the twice-stabbed lady beetle, Chilocorus stigma, a beneficial predatory insect!
We found a lot of these beneficials. They look like mealybugs, but they are actually a type of ladybeetle larva (possibly Scymnus or Hyperaspis lateralis) that feeds on scales. Some of the other species we saw included Chilocorus cacti and C. stigma.