News, Websites, Calendar Summer 2013

In the National News

Bed Bug Nanotechnology

The Center for Advanced Technology in Sensor Materials at Stony Brook University, New York, has produced an innovative new nanotechnology product that traps bed bugs. The product is a microfiber that is several million times more dense than fabric, and could be used for sheets and mattress or furniture covers, or other products. The material’s “entanglements” become interwoven with the structures of the bed bug, stopping them in their tracks until death. The microfiber is safe for humans and pets and unlike chemical treatments, the insects cannot develop a resistance to it. This patent-pending technology is being commercialized by Fibertrap, a private company that employs non-toxic pest control methods.

Flowers Improve Predator Diversity

Entomologists at Washington State University recently published research work in the journal Biological Control, showing the power of flowers to suppress orchard pests. They found that plantings of sweet alyssum attracted a host of spiders and predatory bugs that in turn preyed on woolly apple aphids, a pest that usually requires chemical sprays. After one week, they found that aphid densities decreased considerably in the apple trees with alyssum versus the trees without the flowers. Previous studies showed that alyssum attracted the most syrphid flies, an important predator of aphids. But they found few syrphid fly larvae eating the aphids. To discover the other aphid predators, and whether alyssum was attracting them, researchers sprayed the flowers with a protein marker and captured predatory insects and spiders in nearby traps. Many of the captures, including wasp parasitoids, lacewings, minute pirate bugs, lady beetles, earwigs, and spiders were marked with the protein. This study shows that sweet alyssum can be an appealing best management practice for organic growers since it can aid in aphid suppression.

Ozone Pollution Slows Insect Foraging

Ozone pollution is known to injure plants, but researchers at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Virginia have also shown that insects are also adversely affected. Using the striped cucumber beetle as an example, they found that the beetle was unable to identify cucurbit plants that were affected by ozone. Volatile organic compounds that are normally secreted by the plant and used by the insect for identification, are destroyed by the ozone. This result may help to explain declining insect communities in some parts of the world. The researchers commented that plants that rely on insect pollination can also be negatively impacted for the same reason.

Why the Asian Lady Beetle is a Successful Invader

The Asian lady beetle was introduced to the northeastern U.S. by the USDA in the late 1970s to control scale and aphids. It is now spreading uncontrollably, threatening to outcompete native lady beetle species. To investigate its success, entomologists from the University of Giessen and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany looked for answers. They found that a microsporidia (fungus-like parasite) lives in the beetle’s hemolymph. In addition, the Asian beetle has a strong immune system capable of producing antibiotic and antimicrobial substances. All ladybug species compete for food, sometimes eating each other. Native lady beetles that eat Asian lady beetles or who are exposed to secretions from the Asian beetle’s hemolymph are killed by the microsporidia, providing a clue to the ecological success of this insect.

Bees Killed by Pesticide

Thousands of bumble bees were inadvertently killed by a misapplication of a pesticide called dinotefuran (Safari), to treat aphids. Linden trees in bloom were treated in two commercial locations outside Portland, OR. The pesticide label specifically states that the product should not be applied to blooming plants. As a result, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has placed a ban on the use of all pesticides on plants containing dinotefuran for at least 180 days while they investigate.

House Makes Stink Bug Public Pest No. 1

The brown marmorated stink bug has invaded 39 states, and the worst is feared for the coming season. On June 13, 2013, House lawmakers signed a spending bill directing four agencies within the USDA to expand research to reduce stink bug damage, and orders the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to implement biological control technology. The leader of the bill was Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf.


Useful Publications and Apps

Working in Entomology, written by Amateur Entomologists' Society member Rachel McLeod, promotes entomology as a profession, and contains a collection of interviews of entomologists and their work.

• The Annual Flower Doctor and Perennial Flower Doctor are two specialized encyclopedia apps from Purdue University, offering gardeners ways to identify and manage plant pests.


Calendar of Events

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,

August 14-17, The Second International Conference on Pollinator Biology, Health and Policy, State College, PA,

August 18 - 21, 57th Annual Conference of the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials, Atlanta, GA,

September 4 - 6, International Conference on Entomology 2013. Orlando, FL,

October 2 - 3, Extension Sustainability Summit, Park City, UT,

  • The Extension Sustainability Summit was designed by Extension educators, for Extension educators, to assess what major environmental sustainability programs are currently being delivered through Cooperative Extension, and to envision our future direction.