Georgia’s pecan producers need to scout for pests like the Asian ambrosia beetle

by Clint Thompson, University of Georgia

Pecan season may be over, but Georgia’s producers should continue to scout for pests, like the Asian ambrosia beetle, that could impact future crops.

The first 2018 sighting of the beetle in Georgia came from a Brooks County orchard last week, according to University of Georgia Cooperative Extension pecan specialist Lenny Wells, who wrote about it in his blog at blog.extension.uga.edu/pecan. Wells stresses that, with temperatures at or just above 80 degrees Fahrenheit in southern Georgia this week, ambrosia beetle activity will likely increase. Continue reading

New AgriLife Extension statewide cotton pest management guide is now available

by Steve Byrnes, Texas A&M AgriLife

Entomologists with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service have just released a new statewide guide on managing cotton insect pests, said one of its authors.

Dr. Suhas Vyavhare, AgriLife Extension cotton entomologist at Lubbock, said The Cotton Insect Management Guide can be accessed online at http://bit.ly/2GZi5sI or can be downloaded free from the AgriLife Extension bookstore at  http://bit.ly/2nToDAw . Continue reading

Cover crop choices must be well-planned

In Delta Farm Press

Producers who plant winter crops with no intention of harvesting them reap the benefits of soil conservation, weed control and nutrient retention.

On the flip side, however, the practice of almost constant production in a field creates issues with pest management. Farmers who “plant green” have to balance these challenges to best prepare the way for good crops each year. Continue reading

Planting a refuge necessary for preserving Bt technology

in Southwest Farm Press

Southern corn growers will pull their planters out of the shed and into the field in only a few short weeks. Bt corn will be planted on millions of acres across the South, protecting plants from damaging insects like corn borer and corn earworm. But to ensure that the technology remains effective, farmers in cotton-growing areas must plant a structured refuge alongside their Bt corn.

“Planting a refuge is the single most important thing we can do to keep Bt traits working for years to come,” said Chad Wetzel, a farmer from Tom Bean, Texas, and member of the National Corn Growers Association Freedom to Operate Action Team. “If we lose Bt technology as a defense against insects, growing corn will change dramatically.” Continue reading

Planting time for spring gardens is around the corner, so prep now

Spring gardens may not be as soon for the northern states in the southern region, but the recommendations in this article are applicable to all gardeners.

by Adam Russell, Texas AgriLife

The time is now for East Texas vegetable gardeners to make preparations for planting early varieties and spring garden staples, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

Gardeners have some cool-season vegetables planted already and are soon preparing to plant early vegetable varieties, such as onions, said Dr. Joe Masabni, AgriLife Extension small-acreage vegetable specialist, Overton.  Continue reading

EPA Registers the Wolbachia ZAP Strain in Live Male Asian Tiger Mosquitoes

On November 3, 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency registered a new mosquito biopesticide – ZAP Males® – that can reduce local populations of the type of mosquito (Aedes albopictus, or Asian Tiger Mosquitoes) that can spread numerous diseases of significant human health concern, including the Zika virus.

ZAP Males® are live male mosquitoes that are infected with the ZAP strain, a particular strain of the Wolbachia bacterium. Infected males mate with females, which then produce offspring that do not survive. (Male mosquitoes do not bite people.) With continued releases of the ZAP Males®, local Aedes albopictus populations decrease. Wolbachia are naturally occurring bacteria commonly found in most insect species. Continue reading

Cornell develops the first robotic insect

In Cornell News

Flying insects can perform impressive acrobatic feats, simultaneously sensing and avoiding a striking hand or landing on moving surfaces, such as leaves or flowers blowing in the wind. Similarly, walking insects can display amazing speed, maneuverability, and robustness by rapidly sensing and avoiding predators, while foraging or seeking shelter in small spaces and unstructured terrains.

Silvia Ferrari, Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, with Robert J. Wood (Harvard University), is working toward a future where autonomous, small-scale robots would have similar capabilities, sensing and responding to their environments and maneuvering without human commands. These robots would be particularly invaluable for surveillance or reconnaissance missions in dangerous or remote environments. Continue reading