Study compares insect repellents and rates their effectiveness

The Zika virus has made many people more aware of the need to wear repellents. Consumer Reports tested several DEET-based and natural repellents and recommended several brands in their April issue. In addition, in 2015, a group of researchers from New Mexico State University also tested several DEET-based and natural repellants, along with a bath oil, one perfume and a skin patch to compare a more varied group of products.

The peer-reviewed article, which appeared in the Journal of Insect Science in 2015, compared ten “repellents” to a control. Three DEET-based products were tested, including the popular OFF Deep Woods repellent, in addition to four natural repellents, two fragrances and a mosquito skin patch containing Thiamin B1. Continue reading

AgriLife Research: Rotation, cover crops impact cotton yields more than tillage

by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife

After eight years of research on no-till advantages and disadvantages with cotton crops, Dr. Paul DeLaune is convinced it’s not as much about the tillage as it is about the cover crop and/or rotation.

DeLaune, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research environmental soil scientist in Vernon, said he has compared no-till, strip till and conventional till, as well as cotton with a terminated wheat crop in the Rolling Plains. Continue reading

New coating method may protect seeds from insect damage

In ETH Zurich

By:  Peter Rüegg

Don’t eat the core, it’s poisonous: it’s something parents often say to their children before they eat their first peach. Peach pits, which are hidden inside the nut-like husk, do in fact contain amygdalin, a substance which can degrade into hydrogen cyanide in the stomach.

But peaches, apricots and almonds didn’t develop this defense system to keep children from enjoying their fruit. It is actually nature’s way of protecting plant seeds from being eaten by insects. Continue reading

ARS researchers find that honey bees may carry Varroa mites into other hives

In ARS news

By Jan Suszkiw, USDA Agricultural Research Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are hot on the trail of a honey bee killer, and their detective work has taken them from hives in Tucson, Arizona, to those in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Led by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) supervisory research entomologist Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, the team is staking out the entrances of victimized hives, eyeing the comings and goings of foraging honey bees that they suspect may be unwitting accomplices. Continue reading

Whitefly control in the greenhouse

by Heidi Wollaeger, and Dave Smitley, Michigan State University Extension

Recently, there have been reports from the University of Florida that there are now established populations of insecticide resistant sweet potato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) in Palm Beach County, Florida. There are two major biotypes (identical genetic “strains”) of whitefly: B and Q. The B biotype of whitefly has been in the United States for over 30 years, while the Q biotype only became a problem in the United States within the last 10 years. The Q biotype is much more resistant to conventional control compared with the B biotype. The Q biotype has been found in cotton fields for many years though, and their presence in the whitefly population has come and gone over the years. A very high level of insecticide use is needed for the Q biotype to become dominant. The B biotype usually outcompetes the Q biotype and it still remains the dominant pest whitefly of greenhouse plants. Continue reading

Fall armyworms are a problem in Alabama

In Southeast Farm Press

by Maggie Lawrence, Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Fall armyworms were found in millet in early June in western Mobile County, Ala. Armyworm caterpillars are detrimental to cattlemen and forage producers. The damage can seem to appear overnight.

Dr. Kathy Flanders, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System entomologist, said a fall armyworm caterpillar eats the most within its last feeding stage. Continue reading

Brush identification, control topic of July 7 webinar

by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife

Brush Identification and Control Measures will be the name of a July 7 natural resources webinar conducted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service ecosystem science and management unit.

The webinar is a part of the Texas Range Webinar Series scheduled the first Thursday of each month from noon to 1 p.m., said Pete Flores, webinar coordinator in Corpus Christi. Continue reading