Utah Pests News Fall 2009

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In the National News

Bayer to Stop Endosulfan Distribution

Bayer has chosen to voluntarily end distribution of endosulfan in all countries where it is now legally available starting in 2010 following an action led by various groups in 16 countries.  One of the primary groups campaigning for a ban on endosulfan is the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), which has worked on this issue for many years.  Endosulfan is currently prohibited in 60 countries, and has been linked to deaths by acute injury to farmworkers.  Other manufacturers will still distribute their products (Thiodan) in the U.S. PAN will continue to push for an international ban of this product.

EPA Warn Against Mislabeling

The EPA recently sent a notice to producers and suppliers of specialty pesticides and fertilizers clarifying label regulations and warnings against the use of false and misleading claims like “Professional” and “Professional Grade.”  EPA says that the term “Professional Grade” is misleading and illegal, implying that pesticides are classified by grade, which they are not.  The Office of Pesticide Programs will decide on whether to refer this matter to the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance for potential enforcement action.

EPA To Review Imidacloprid

A Final Work Plan has been issued by the EPA for the registration review of the insecticide imidacloprid.  This is agency protocol for every pesticide, every 15 years.  Over 12,000 comments were sent to the EPA over the 90-day comment period of the Preliminary Work Plan.  The majority of comments urged the agency to suspend use of imidacloprid due to suspected effects on pollinators, while some were in support of its continued use.  The Final Work Plan states that the agency will seek field-based data reports on imidacloprid to better understand its impact on pollinators, endangered species, and humans.  Click here for the full document.  The final decision on registration will occur by September 2014.

Pathogen Keeps Tree in Check

Black cherry trees are invasive in Europe, and an Agricultural Research Service study has shown that the reason is a missing plant pathogen.   Pythium, a soil-borne fungus-relative, keeps black cherry trees in check in its native North American range, killing seedlings in the forest.   Although this pathogen is found almost world-wide, only the aggressive form occurs in the cherry’s native range.   Virulence testing such as this is unique, providing a clear answer why a plant is sparse in one area, and invasive in another.

Insects' Biological Clocks Affect Pesticide Susceptibility

Oregon State University entomologists have recently shown that insects that have circadian “clocks” are more vulnerable to pesticides at certain times of the day.  In fruit flies (Drosophila sp.), for example, when sprayed with fipronil or propoxur at mid-day when their defenses are strongest, researchers found that it took a triple dose of pesticide to get the same lethal effect as when their defenses were weakest, at dawn, dusk, and in the middle of the night.  This rhythmic defense mechanism involves absorption, distribution, and excretion.  This study leads the way to investigate specific insects and specific insecticides on what times of day they are most vulnerable to exposure.

Well-Known Herbs Fight Insect Pests

Herbs such as rosemary, thyme, clove, and mint are becoming organic growers’ best allies against insect pests.  More than ten years of research out of the University of B.C. is showing that these herbs’ essential oils represent a new class of natural insecticides that pose little environmental risks.  Some kill insects while others repel.  There are currently products on the market containing these ingredients, and the products available are expected to increase.  The current downside of these products is that they are short-lived and less potent, but worldwide research will probably result in improved options.

Sometimes Biological Controls Fail

Biological control of aphids with parasitic wasps does not always work.  Parasitic wasps lay eggs inside the host and the hatched larvae feed on the host until emergence as adults.  University of Arizona entomologists have discovered that pea aphids carrying a virus-infected bacteria are protected from parasitic wasps.  The virus carries genes that code for toxins that kill the wasp eggs.  They found that the code, a mobile genetic element, can actually be incorporated into the host bacteria or into other bacteria species, giving the recipient the ability to make the toxin.

Grasshopper Infestation Severe in 2009

Many mid-west and western states including Utah have seen severe grasshopper infestations in 2009, some areas reporting the worst in more than 20 years.  Ranchers in several states have had to sell part of their herds due to reduced hay production and depleted pasture land.  In some areas, there were more than 60 grasshoppers per square yard, much higher than usual. In severe instances, USDA APHIS covers all costs for spraying on federal land, 50% on state land, and 33% on private land.  The agency predicts that the problem will be worse next year.



  • Farm Made Report” uses four examples: syrup, packaged salad greens, spreads, and table eggs to show how to process organic ingredients into value-added organic products on the farm. Published by Kerr Center. Access it here.
  • Building a Community Garden in Montana” contains tools and strategies for developing, funding and leading a community garden project. Access it here.
  • Prevention of Bug Bites, Stings, and Disease is a book by Daniel Strickman and others that contains 15 chapters focused on identification of biting and stinging insects, and ways to eliminate or manage problems. The book is loaded with full color pictures and practical information. Oxford University Press.

Web Sites

  • Biopesticides-Effective Use in Pest Management is a free online course on biopesticides, with a test at the end. Currently, credits are not offered for Utah pesticide applicators, but may be pending.
  • The Pollinator Partnership provides videos, detailed regional planting guides of native pollinator plants, and more.
  • Urban Bee Gardens is a site produced by UC-Berkeley, containing results of an intensive bee research project looking at plant-bee interactions. It includes plant lists, bee species information, and a “bee-friendly garden builder” tool.
  • Pest Management In and Around Structures contains detailed information on urban pest management, homeowner IPM, school IPM, and expert answers, provided by the national eXtension network.
  • University of MN Organic Ecology contains information, education and announcements about organic ecology research and outreach.
  • EntLibrary.org is a collaborative effort of NC State University, The Entomological Foundation, Iowa State University, and Clemson University. It provides teachers and learners with access to high-quality, peer-reviewed entomology teaching materials.
  • Household Products Database is provided by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.
  • Help the Honeybees is a program sponsored by Haagen Dazs focused on honey bees, with educational materials, desktop wallpaper, and a “bee store.” 
  • Pest P.I. Game is a game provided by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, teaching about IPM in schools.
  • Junior Pest Investigators has four lessons that can be used in class to teach students about ipm and common pests.
  • Biopesticide and Organic Database for IPM is an invaluable and useful tool for searching strictly for these products. You can search by specific crop, pest, and state.
  • Introduction to Pesticides for Retail Employees is an online training course is for retail and garden center employees and others who advise residents about home and garden pesticides. It gives basic information about types of pesticides, selecting pesticides, and pesticide safety. It is provided by UC-Davis, but has utility for Utah.
  • Moving Beyond Pesticides – Environmentally Safe Tools for Use in an IPM Program for Retail Employees is a second online training course offered by UC-Davis, that gives a basic introduction to the principles of IPM including information about pest identification, changing conditions that favor pests, and combining various least-toxic methods for the best long-term management of pests.