Periodic charts bring new meaning to Texas A&M wildlife researcher, others

by Steve Byrnes, Texas A&M AgriLife

To many of us, the mere mention of a “periodic table” conjures up pop quizzes, dread and the queasiness associated with past ninth grade chemistry classes dealing with the famous element chart, but to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist and his colleagues, the term has taken on a whole new meaning.

Dr. Kirk Winemiller and doctoral students Dan Fitzgerald and Luke Bower, scientists within the department of wildlife and fisheries sciences at Texas A&M University, College Station, and Dr. Eric Pianka, ecologist at the University of Texas, Austin, published a paper two years ago in the journal Ecology Letters, that proposed a rationale for periodic tables of niches and offered ways to create them. Continue reading

Collaring the Mice that Carry Lyme Disease-Causing Ticks

White-footed mice in Howard County, Maryland are being collared as part of a study to improve control of the ticks that spread Lyme disease. The mouse collaring research, never before done in Maryland, is a partnership of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks (HCRP), and University of Maryland (UMD).

The mouse tracking is part of a larger five-year ARS Tick Management Project evaluating the use of minimal pesticide or integrated pest management methods to lower the number of black-legged ticks. Some of those ticks carry Lyme disease-causing bacteria and are around single-family yards and gardens adjacent to large Howard County parks. Continue reading

USDA Invests $7.6 Million for Research on Pests and Beneficial Species

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 21 grants totaling $7.6 million for research to help manage pests and beneficial species that affect agricultural crops. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“There continues to be a critical need to develop new ways to defend our crops against pests,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “NIFA investments will also help to develop better strategies to foster the beneficial insects and microbes that have potential to combat pests.” Continue reading

Scientists use bacteriophages to fight fire blight

in Science Daily

 

The plant disease fire blight, caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora, is dreaded by fruit growers. It affects apple and pear trees and other plants in the rosacea family, and if a tree becomes affected it usually has to be cleared and burned.

The pathogen that causes fire blight is difficult to control. In exceptional cases, farmers can use the antibiotic streptomycin, but even this cannot prevent the pathogen from disseminating via pollinating insects. Continue reading

UGA’s annual Organic Farm Twilight Tour slated for June 29

By Merritt Melancon

In its sixth year, UGA’s Organic Farm Twilight Tour is a chance to stroll around UGA’s 90-acre organic research and horticulture farm and learn about the latest in organic growing methods.

The tour will run from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 29, 2017, at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Durham Horticulture Farm at 1221 Hog Mountain Road in Watkinsville, Georgia. Continue reading

Auburn University doctoral student leads research on how parasitoids use scents to locate hosts

Research by a doctoral student at Auburn University into how certain insect parasitoids “sniff out” their prey will help farmers better utilize them to control insect pests.

Tolulope Morawo, a Ph.D. student at Auburn University, won a Friends of Southern IPM Graduate Student award for his research on two parasitoid species (parasitic wasps) that attack caterpillar pests. His goal is to discover how these parasitoids find their hosts through olfactory responses. Continue reading

Kudzu bugs’ decline is attributed to two factors

by Clint Thompson, University of Georgia

Once a devastating presence in Georgia’s soybean fields and a major nuisance to homeowners, the kudzu bug population has diminished over the past three years.

“Having kudzu bugs in your field isn’t the end of the world. It becomes problematic when you have too many of them,” said Ian Knight, a University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences graduate student. Continue reading