News, Websites, Calendar Spring 2013

In the National News

Decline in Pine Beetle-Killed Trees

The U.S. Forest Service reports that the number of trees being killed by pine beetles is now beginning to decline. The main reason is that most of the existing trees are already infested. In 2010, the infested area covered 9.2 million acres of public and private land in western states. Two million acres are infested in Idaho, down 63 percent from 2010 to 2012. It is estimated the decline will continue since the pine beetles are running out of suitable hosts from infestations and wildfires, or that very cold weather may kill a large portion of the beetles.

Asian Needle Ants Marching In

The Argentine ant has invaded vast areas of the U.S. due to its territorial behavior and ability to create huge "supercolonies", displacing native species and changing ecosystems to suit its needs. Up until now, this ant has been one of the most successful invaders. But it has met its match in the Asian needle ant. The Asian needle ant has begun to displace the Argentine ant—a species that will normally not tolerate any other ants. North Carolina State University researchers observed that the Asian needle ants expanded their territory from 9% of the sites they are studying to 32%, in just 3 years. This is the first documentation of another ant species taking territory from the Argentine ant. The Asian needle ant, found from Alabama to New York to Oregon, has a highly venomous sting.

New Monitoring Technique for Emerald Ash Borer

The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) has been devastating the population of ash trees for the last 20 years, moving from Michigan to parts south and east in the U.S. Detecting or monitoring populations of this invasive pest is difficult when infestations are new or when densities are low. Emerald ash borer does not appear to use pheromones to mate. Instead, males find females by visual cues from her iridescent body. Pennsylvania State University entomologists report in the Journal of Bionic Engineering that they have created a decoy emerald ash borer that lures the male borer into a trap. The decoy beetle is made by a process of layering polymers with different refractive indexes to create the desired iridescence, and then stamping the resulting material into the mold.

IPM Lowers Asthma Rates

Boston health officials surveyed residents in Boston Housing Authority dwellings and found that asthma reports dropped by nearly half between 2006 and 2010. This is due to integrated pest management practices implement by the Housing Authority and Boston Public Health Commission. Such practices as promptly removing trash, fixing leaks, sealing cracks, removing clutter, and educational programs have reduced pest infestations and the need for chemical control. Reported asthma symptoms dropped from 23.6% in 2006 to 13% in 2010 in city housing, but in other low-income housing where no intervention has occurred, asthma rates remained unchanged.

Side-Effects of Genetically Modified Plants

A team of researchers led by Jörg Romeis from the Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station found that genetically modified cotton plants containing a gene of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) are more susceptible to attack by other insects. Romeis found that the Bt cotton does not use its “defense system” when fed upon by other insects, such as aphids, as compared to non-Bt cotton. This finding may partly explain why cotton fields in China and other areas are experiencing significantly more pest problems. Genetically modified cotton is grown on over 80% of all cotton fields in the world.

Corn Rootworm Resistant to Genetically Engineered Crops

The EPA Insect Resistance Management team announced that in certain parts of the U.S. Corn Belt, corn rootworm is now resistant to genetically modified corn containing a gene of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Corn rootworm can be a devastating pest of corn, feeding on roots and weakening a crop. The GM corn was first marketed by Monsanto in 2003. The company has agreed to initiate several actions and changes related to the registration of GM products containing the Bt toxin to address the resistance issue.


Useful Publications and Websites

Everything About Peaches is not a new website, but worth mentioning. The site provides both technical and popular information for commercial and backyard growers.

Handbook of Turfgrass Insects second edition contains all aspects of turfgrass insect management with color photos, insect life stages, life cycle charts, and distribution maps.

• "Pollinator Protection" information and resources that inform applicators on the proper use of pesticides in relation to protecting honey bees.


Calendar of Events

April 23, 2013 NAIPSC Webinar Series: Dr. Bethany Bradley, University of Massachusetts, "Models: what are they really telling us about invasive plants?",

April 24, ONLINE: Cover Crop Mixes: Getting the Cover Crop You Want,

May 9, 2013 NAIPSC Webinar Series: Charlotte Adelman, Author of Midwestern Native Garden, "Is there a complimentary native replacement for every invasive or non-native plant species?",

July 21-25, 26th International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB), Baltimore, MD,

July 22 - 25, American Society for Horticultural Science 2013, Palm Desert, CA,

August 4 - 9, 98th Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN,

August 10 - 14, 2013 American Phytopathological Society Annual Meeting, Austin, TX,

August 11 - 24, Planning and Implementing Sustainable IPM Systems, Corvallis, OR,

  • This two-week course offered by the Integrated Plant Protection Center at Oregon State University, includes seminars, discussions, and case studies to help participants will build their capacities to work with farmers to plan and implement sustainable integrated pest management programs. The course will employ innovative teaching and learning methods that maximize participation and engagement, and draw upon data and experiences with real farms and farmers. Attendees will specifically address the challenges of implementing IPM in systems that are subject to novel, invasive pests and systems experiencing the increasing uncertainties associated with climate change.