Kissing bugs and Chagas disease

From the NC State University Plant Disease and Insect Clinic blog

By Matt Bertone, NC State University

News reports out of Texas, and now North Carolina, have been stirring up fears about “deadly” insects and a lesser known, but potentially serious illness: Chagas disease. Most people in the United States have never heard of this malady, yet it affects millions of people every year…in Central and South America.

The vast majority of Chagas disease cases are from rural areas in the New World tropics. Cases in the United States are rare, and most have been diagnosed from people who traveled here from outside the country. In fact there are at present only seven verified cases of natively-infected (termed “autochthonous”) Chagas in the United States since 1955, and none of these was from North Carolina (see Reference 2). To put this in perspective, malaria — a mosquito transmitted protozoan disease often thought of as exotic — has been recorded as autochthonous 63 times since 1957. Continue reading

Are you a good stink bug or a bad stink bug?

Southeast Farm Press has a photo gallery of 6 species of stink bugs, some pests and others beneficial (yes, they’re not all bad).

Click here to see the gallery.

For the identification, look at the right of the screen, right above the advertisement.

Preying on predators

This post comes from Scott Stewart’s UTCrops News Blog. Predators are important in IPM, so I thought this was worth sharing.

Assassin bug and lady beetle

Assassin bug attacking a lady beetle

The critter pictured right is one of the several kinds of assassin bugs found in field crops (family Reduviidae).  Assassin bugs are excellent predators of many insect pests, but this guy didn’t get the memo and is eating an adult lady beetle (another beneficial insect).

Assassin bugs are pretty large, and thus can take down some big prey such as large caterpillars.  Of course, the immature stages are smaller and feed on smaller prey.  The species pictured belongs to the genus Zelus, and it is commonly seen in soybean and cotton.  The adult is about one-inch long.  Assassin bugs will bite, so handle carefully!