Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle on Guam – an update

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An adult male coconut rhinoceros beetle. Emmy Engasser, Hawaiian Scarab ID, USDA APHIS ITP, Bugwood.org

10 years ago the Coconut Rhinoceros beetle (CRB) was first discovered on the western Pacific island of Guam. Since then, these shoe-shine black, miniature invaders have spread to all parts of the island and are laying waste to the local coconut and oil palm population. The economy, culture and ecology  of Guam and other Pacific islands are intrinsically linked to the native palm species such that the rhino beetle poses a major threat. The indigenous peoples of Guam have a long history of weaving palm fronds, an artistry that is now at risk due to the rhino beetle. These trees are a symbol of tropic paradise, a motif that drives Guam’s primary industry; tourism. Continue reading

Kenya gets new production facility to control crop pest

Mango fruit fly (Bactrocera sp.) (© Ko Ko Maung, Bugwood.org)

By Sam Otieno. Reblogged from SciDevNet

A facility has been launched in Kenya to aid commercial production of a protein bait to control fruit flies in Sub-Saharan Africa. The US$250,000 facility, which resulted from public-private partnership involving the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) and Kenya Biologics Ltd, will enable smallholders control fruit flies that devastate their fruits and vegetables.

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The Bird, the Borer and the Bean

Yellow Warbler © Tom Tetzner
Yellow Warbler © Tom Tetzner

A recent study carried out in Costa Rica found that insectivorous birds such as the Yellow Warbler help to reduce infestations of the Coffee Berry Borer Beetle on coffee plantations by 50%. This free pest control service is estimated to save a medium sized coffee farm up to $9,400 per year. The study carried out by biologists from Stanford University could provide incentive for biodiversity conservation and enhancement of ecosystem services and also offer hope to coffee farmers devastated by the beetle.

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Could Spider Venom Be Used As A Novel Insecticide For Major Crop Pests?

Could spider venom be used as a new novel insecticide? Image ©giovzaid85 via Flickr
Could spider venom be used as a new novel insecticide? Image ©giovzaid85 via Flickr

A new protein discovered in the venom of Australian tarantulas can also kill insect pests that consume the venom orally. The protein known as orally active insecticidal peptide-1 (OAIP-1) was found to be highly toxic to insects that consumed it, with a similar efficacy to the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid. In particular, the protein was found to be highly toxic to the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa zea.

Many spider species have evolved insecticidal toxins in their venom, which they inject into the prey through their fangs. Consequently it has often been presumed that the venom would not be toxic when ingested orally by insects pests, and therefore would not be suitable for use as an insecticide. Conversely, the scientists in this study discovered it is possible to isolate spider venom peptides with high levels of oral insecticidal activity. The team used the venom from Selenotypus plumipes which is a large tarantula native to Australia which despite its large size is not harmful to humans.

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New strategy required for delaying insect resistance to Bt crops

Kenyan farmer Mary Ngare in her maize field damaged by stem borers © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA)
Kenyan farmer Mary Ngare in her maize field damaged by stem borers © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA)

Transgenic Bt crops have been grown around the world since the 1990s and have contributed to increased yields by controlling agricultural pests. Due to the importance of this technology, there has been continuous study into the development of resistance to Bt crops and how best to avoid this happening. A recent investigation into the rapid spread of Bt resistance in South Africa has revealed one of the more surprising discoveries to date, that the maize stalk borer (Busseola fusca) has evolved Bt maize resistance inherited as a dominant trait for the first time. This has significant impacts on the management of Bt crops, as current methods for sustaining susceptibility rely on the recessive inheritance of Bt resistance.

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In Uganda, plant doctors gain new insights

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Nineteen plant doctors  from the eastern and central region of Uganda are equipped and ready to give good advice to farmers – by Jane Frances Asaba and Joseph Mulema  in Kampala, Uganda and Phil Taylor in UK

As Plantwise Uganda continues to roll out more plant clinics, the need for training of plant doctors to ensure effective, affordable, locally-accessible and safe advice to farmers has become increasingly urgent. Partners and individual plant doctors are demanding more training and access to information to keep up with the need from smallholder farmers for good advice against crop pests.

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Plantwise Plant Clinics in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago Country Coordinator Shamela Rambadan sent the photo below of a Soursop (Annona muricata) plant brought into a clinic in County Victoria in Trinidad and Tobago by farmer Ramesh Ramnanan last month. The symptoms described included yellowed, distorted leaves and visible insects on the leaves, as seen in the photo. Plant health officer Zobida Mohammed diagnosed the symptoms to be caused by mealybugs and scale insects and recommended that the farmer used a suitable insecticide on the crop to avoid further damage.

A photo of the leaves of a Soursop plant from a plant clinic in County Victoria. The insect pests are visible as white dots along the leaf veins. Image courtesy of Zobida Mohammed

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