Endangered Bee: New Approach to Saving

Endangered Bee: New Approach to Saving

USDA Agricultural Research Service sent this bulletin at 06/20/2023 08:54 AM EDT

View as a webpage ARS News Service Rusty patched bumble bee on a yellow flower. Rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis). (Photo by Clay Bolt, D5119-1) Completing Genome of Rusty Patched Bumble Bee May Offer New Approach to Saving Endangered Bee For media inquiries contact: Kim Kaplan, 301-588-5314 LOGAN, Utah, June 20, 2023 — A detailed, high-resolution map of the rusty patched bumble bee’s genome has been released by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) scientists, offering  approaches for bringing the native pollinator back from the danger of extinction. Putting together the rusty patched bumble bee genome is part of the Beenome 100 project, a first-of-its-kind effort to create a library of high-quality, highly detailed genome maps of 100 or more diverse bee species found in the United States. Beenome 100 is a collaborative undertaking of ARS and the University of Illinois. The expectation is that this library will help researchers answer the big questions about bees such as what genetic differences make a bee species more vulnerable to climate change or whether a bee species is likely to be more susceptible to a pesticide. The rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) is an important pollinator of bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), milkweed, and other wildflowers, as well as crops such as cranberries, plums, apples and alfalfa. But in the last 20 years or so, its population is estimated to have declined by 87 percent. In 2017, the species was listed as “endangered.” Where rusty patched bumble bees were once common across the Upper Midwest and Northeast in 28 states and 2 Canadian provinces, now their range is down to disconnected spots in 13 states and one Canadian province. Among the few places they are still regularly found is around the Minneapolis-St. Paul area of Minnesota and in Wisconsin. “With the amount of detailed information that we and other researchers now have access to in this newly sequenced genome, we have an opportunity to find a whole different approach to strengthening rusty patched bumble bee populations,” said research entomologist Jonathan B. Uhaud Koch with the ARS Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research Unit in Logan, Utah. Koch explained that some of the factors contributing to the decline of rusty patched bumble bees are already known: loss of habitat, reduced variety of nectar sources, climate change, exposure to pesticides, and more pathogens and pests. While scientists have known the widespread presence of the fungal pathogen Varimorpha bombi (formerly called Nosema bombi) has a detrimental impact on many rusty patched bumble bee populations, Koch was a bit surprised by how much Varimorpha genetic material he found in the bumble bee sample that was used to develop the genome map. “We used a small piece of abdominal tissue from a single male collected from a nest in Minnesota, which, given the endangered status of the rusty patched bumble bee, seemed like a very good idea,” Koch said. “It’s only with the most cutting-edge equipment that you could resolve an entire genome of 15,252 genes and 18 chromosomes from a tiny bit of one bumble bee. It turns out about 4.5 percent of the DNA the researchers sequenced came from Microsporidia, the fungal group that includes Varimorpha bombi. “That’s a massive amount of genetic information from the bee tissue sample to be associated with Varimorpha bombi. It demonstrates how pervasive the pathogen is,” Koch said. “Having this high-quality genome will support the identification of genetic differences between rusty patched bumble bee populations that appear to be doing well versus where they are in decline,” Koch said. “This may give us a handle on identifying the genes that give the more capable population its flexibility to deal with its environment. We may also gain a better understanding of the genetic basis of bumble bee behavior, physiology and adaptation to changing environmental conditions.” Once the more successful genes for a particular type of local condition are identified, researchers will be able to give a population a boost in the right direction when it comes to restoring the rusty patched bumble bee to an area through captive breeding programs. This research was funded by ARS and USFWS. The research was published in the journal G3: Genes | Genomes | Genetics and the genome is available on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website. The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in U.S. agricultural research results in $20 of economic impact. Interested in reading more about ARS research? Visit our news archive U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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Eastern Africa: FAO launches project to curb spread of African armyworm

Source: Xinhua| 2023-06-16 00:26:30|Editor: huaxia

NAIVASHA, Kenya, June 15 (Xinhua) — The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on Thursday launched a project in Kenya’s lakeside town of Naivasha to protect staple food crops from devastating losses caused by the African armyworm, a pest which can destroy up to 100 percent of staple foods if left uncontrolled.

The project, Emergency Support to Manage Outbreaks and Infestation by African Armyworm in Eastern Africa, aims to harness national capacities in eastern Africa against the incursion of the pest.

Xia Jingyuan, director of the Plant Production and Protection Division at the FAO, said the pest poses a serious threat to food insecurity in the subregion, necessitating the urgent intervention of the FAO and its partners to prevent major loss of crops, which are already under pressure of prolonged drought.

Xia said the pest is reproducing itself for up to 13 generations in a single year, with a huge potential for major outbreaks. “In 2022, the outbreaks were reported in many East African nations. Recognizing this challenge, FAO is employing its expertise to protect the livelihoods of smallholders through robust monitoring and management of the pest,” he said in a statement.

The FAO said the project aims to harness national capacities in eastern Africa against the incursion of African armyworms. It extends support to six countries in the region — Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda.

“By establishing 2,400 monitoring sites, with 400 sites in each country, the project provides training to over 1,350 people in monitoring, early warning, and effective management techniques for African armyworm,” the FAO said.

Kello Harsama, principal secretary of the State Department for Crop Development at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development of Kenya, noted the fact that Kenya had just come out from the worst desert locust invasion that threatened farmers’ lives and livelihoods in more than 28 counties and was again facing the dangers of the African armyworm.

Harsama said Kenya has carried out surveillance on over 1.12 million hectares, of which about 296,000 hectares were found to be affected by African armyworms. “So far, over 173,000 hectares of land were protected through ground spraying. However, effective and lasting protection can be achieved through regional collaborative efforts,” Harsama said.

The project focuses on engaging experts from National Plant Protection Units within the Ministries of Agriculture as the primary beneficiaries, while also providing in-country knowledge transfer training to national experts and community focal persons in villages. The project emphasizes the use of a Community-Based Armyworm Monitoring and Forecasting system, which was started in Tanzania in 2000, with subsequent rollouts in Ethiopia and Kenya.

The system has demonstrated promising results and was scaled up in high-risk villages in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania from 2012 to 2015.

Carla Mucavi, the FAO representative in Kenya, said the African armyworm is a transboundary pest that threatens food security and nutrition in the whole of the East Africa subregion.

Muvaci said the pest can cause serious damage to staple foods unless it is monitored and managed.

“No single country can manage this pest alone. We need to join hands to defeat this pest, so as to prevent major crop losses that endanger the livelihoods of the smallholder farmers. Thus, I call upon governments and partners to put on more resources to catalyze and enhance the fight against this worrisome pest,” Mucavi said. ■

Mealybug management in greenhouses | Global Plant Protection News

Mealybugs are a common insect pest in greenhouses, causing damage to plants and reducing yields. Mealybugs extract plant fluids through their piercing-sucking mouthparts, leading to stunted growth, yellowing leaves, wilting, and the production of sticky honeydew. Mealybugs can be introduced into greenhouses through tropical foliage and succulent plant material shipments, making effective control strategies important. A combination of cultural, insecticidal, and biological management strategies need to be implemented to manage mealybug populations.

Figure 1. Adults, nymphs, and egg masses of citrus mealybugs. Photo by the United States National Collection of Scale Insects Photographs, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org.

Identifying mealybugs is relatively easy due to their elliptical shape and distinctive white, waxy filaments protruding from their body. While they retain their legs in all instar stages, mealybugs seldom move except for the first nymphal instar stage or crawler, which actively searches for a place to feed. Some species leave behind white, cottony egg masses (Figure 1) and excrete honeydew, which can lead to the growth of black sooty mold. Their ability to hide in plant crevasses makes them particularly difficult to manage. Since only adult male mealybugs fly, yellow sticky cards are not effective for scouting. Therefore, using a hand lens or magnifying glass to confirm the identity of mealybugs is recommended. Keeping records of mealybug infestations and locations will help in making effective management decisions.

Disposal and quarantining
One of the most effective ways to stop the spread of mealybugs in the greenhouse is to dispose of heavily infested plant material (Figure 2). Setting up pest thresholds in your operation is important to determine when to cut your losses and throw away plant material. A pest threshold is a level at which a pest population in a crop reaches the point where it begins to cause economic losses. In other words, it is the point at which the cost of controlling the pest exceeds the cost of the damage it causes to the crop. Determining a pest threshold requires a comprehensive assessment of the crop, pest, economic factors, and the availability and effectiveness of management options. Plant material susceptible to mealybugs should be quarantined before introducing into the greenhouse. For high-value crops where disposal is not ideal, quarantining infested plants helps ensure mealybugs do not spread to unaffected plants. Quarantine protocols will be different depending on the size of the operation and the crop type, but the basic steps include the following:

  1. Isolation: Place new plants in a separate area, away from the main greenhouse, to prevent the spread of mealybugs to other plants. This could be an area as large as a greenhouse or as small as a grow tent.
  2. Inspection: Before bringing new plants into the greenhouse, inspect them thoroughly for mealybugs, focusing on growing tips and areas where the leaf attaches to the stem (Figure 3).
  3. Prevention: Rejecting the shipment and contacting the supplier may be necessary.
  4. Treatment: If mealybugs are found on new plants, treat plants with an insecticide before introducing them into the greenhouse. Thorough coverage of all plant parts is important and multiple applications will be required.
  5. Monitoring: Regularly inspect quarantined plants for mealybugs and treat them with an insecticide as needed.
  6. Record keeping: Record when and where mealybugs are found, the severity of the infestation, and any insecticides applied. Record-keeping will help determine the effectiveness of the quarantine measures.

Figure 2. Marigold plant heavily infested with citrus mealybugs that should be disposed of. Photo by Chazz Hesselein, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Bugwood.org. 

Figure 3. Citrus mealybugs on stem of plant. Photo by Charles Olsen, Charles Olsen Insect Collection, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org. 

Proper greenhouse sanitation is crucial to mitigate the spread of mealybugs. It is important to keep greenhouses clean. Doing so will help to minimize mealybug problems before the spring growing season begins.

The first step in greenhouse sanitation is to remove all plant debris. Weeds, plant debris, and unsalable plants can serve as hosts for insects, mites, diseases, and plant viruses. Reading the Michigan State University Extension Greenhouse Weed Management Strategy is recommended for managing weeds. Remove all weeds and plant debris and place them into a tightly sealed, covered garbage container to prevent pests and pathogens from migrating out and back onto the main crop. Remember to remove organic material and debris (media, spent plants, other organic material) daily to increase the effectiveness of disinfectants.

Mealybugs are easily spread in a greenhouse. Therefore, educating employees/workers on the importance of sanitation practices is important. Workers should be trained to identify signs of mealybug infestations on plants and the areas in the greenhouse where mealybugs are commonly located to prevent infestations from spreading. It is also important to remind workers to wash their hands frequently and disinfect not only tools and equipment but also any containers, trays, or other items used to transport plants. By taking these measures, workers can help reduce the risk of spreading mealybugs in a greenhouse.

Pesticide control
Due to their protective waxy covering, mealybug populations can be challenging to manage with insecticides. The covering is water-resistant and reduces their exposure to insecticide residues. Most insecticides have limited activity on mealybug eggs. The nymphal stages are the most susceptible to insecticides because they have not formed the waxy covering. Insecticides need to be applied frequently, at least once per week, due to the presence of multiple generations.

When using insecticides to manage mealybug populations, be sure to rotate insecticides with different modes of action. This will reduce the likelihood of mealybugs developing resistance. Refer to the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC) website for information pertaining to insecticide modes of action.

For a complete list of recommended insecticides for managing mealybugs, check out the MSU Extension Greenhouse Pest Management Guide.

Biological control
Biological control agents, such as mealybug destroyers (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) (Figure 4) and lacewing larvae (Chrysoperla spp.), can be purchased and released to manage mealybug populations.

Figure 4. Cryptolaemus montrouzieri adult feeding on citrus mealybug. Photo courtesy of Sonya Broughton, Department of Agriculture & Food Western Australia, Bugwood.org.

Source: canr.msu.edu

Publication date: Wed 24 May 2023

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Crop Sprayer app improves IPM strategy

une 15, 2023

Laura Hollis

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Use the Crop Sprayer app to improve your Integrated Pest Management strategy

The Crop Sprayer mobile app is the latest tool in the PlantwisePlus Toolkit. The free app helps users apply just the right amount of pesticide to treat and protect crops from pests.

A farmer tending her crops in Cambodia. Image: CABI

Growth in pesticide use

Farmers lose up to 40% of their crops to pests and diseases. The increase in devastating species, such as the fall armyworm, papaya mealybug and tomato pinworm, has led to a growth in pesticide use among smallholder farmers. However, the misuse and overuse of chemicals can harm human health and the environment.

One solution for reducing pesticide risks is to follow an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy. IPM is a holistic and sustainable approach to pest control. It combines physical, cultural and chemical practices to economically control crop pests whilst minimising hazards. As such, IPM strategies aim to reduce the use of pesticides.

Careful use of pesticides

Farmer spraying pesticides
Farmer spraying crops. Image: CABI

IPM includes the use of pesticides, but only after monitoring indicates action thresholds have been exceeded. Applying the correct pesticide at the recommended dose is very important to minimise risks to human health, beneficial and nontarget organisms, and the environment.

This is when the Crop Sprayer app can be of benefit. Through the app, users can quickly work out simple calculations, including how much pesticide to put in their sprayer, how much pesticide they need in total, and how many tanks they require for an area.

When is it appropriate to incorporate pesticides into an IPM strategy, and how can the Crop Sprayer app help?

Identification and monitoring of pests

The first step in IPM is to identify and monitor the pest. Understanding the pest species, its behaviour, and its life cycle can help determine whether non-chemical methods alone are sufficient or if pesticide intervention is required.

View the PestSmart Diagnostic Field Guide

Threshold levels of pests

Threshold levels are predetermined pest population levels at which a farmer should take action to prevent economic or environmental damage. Utilising thresholds helps prevent unnecessary pesticide applications and ensures that treatments are targeted and effective.

Selective pesticides

When pesticides are deemed necessary, farmers should choose products that target the specific pest. Selective pesticides, also known as soft pesticides, reduce the risk of disrupting natural predator-prey relationships.

Pesticide resistance management

Pesticide resistance is a significant concern in pest management. Overreliance on a single pesticide can lead, over time, to resistance in pest populations, rendering the pesticide ineffective.

Using pesticides strategically and sparingly can help slow down pesticide resistance. Farmers can do this by rotating between chemical modes of action and employing other non-chemical control methods, such as biocontrols.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of pest problem

Assessing the potential economic losses from the pest problem compared to the costs associated with pesticide application allows farmers to understand if the economic benefits of pesticides outweigh the costs. Cost considerations include the product, application equipment and labour.

Using the Crop Sprayer app

A workshop participant using the Crop Sprayer app
A workshop participant using the Crop Sprayer app. Image: CABI

If a farmer decides it is appropriate to use pesticides as part of their IPM strategy, then the Crop Sprayer app can help with the often tricky calculations. The app supports farmers and agricultural advisors, ensuring they can calibrate the output of their sprayers and purchase and use the right amount of pesticide. Not only does this help tackle issues around misuse and overuse, but it also means farmers do not have unused pesticides left over. Leftover chemicals cost the farmer money unnecessarily, as well as pose challenges with pesticide disposal.

About the Crop Sprayer app

The Crop Sprayer App is free for everyone to download and use and is available in English, French, Spanish, Swahili and Bengali.

Users require an Android smartphone or tablet with enough storage space for the app and access to the internet to download the app from the Google Play Store.

Once downloaded, the app works offline. However, a stable internet connection and sufficient storage space on your device are needed for any updates released by CABI.

data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== The new Crop Sprayer mobile app

CABI Bioprotection Portal

The CABI BioProtection Portal can be used alongside the Crop Sprayer App as it provides up-to-date information to identify, source and apply registered microbial biopesticide products in a given country, thereby supporting the rational application of nature-based pest management solutions.


Wenatchee Washington: Biocontrol Field Tour

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During the Biocontrol Field Tour hosted by the ESA Plant-Insect Ecosystems Section in the Wenatchee, Washington, area in May 2022, tour participants meet at a Zirkle Fruit orchard for the second day of the tour. (Photo by Suzanne Wainwright)

By Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris, Ph.D., Dalton Ludwick, Ph.D., Alix Whitener, Ph.D., and Teah Smith

In May 2022, the ESA Plant-Insect Ecosystems (P-IE) Section hosted a Biocontrol Field Tour in the Wenatchee, Washington, area. The tour was part of a series of tours held by the P-IE Section and the first tour to be held since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Past tours focused on pollinators (Mississippi Delta in 2017, North Dakota in 2018), invasive species (southeastern Pennsylvania in 2018), and pesticide resistance management (Nebraska and Iowa in 2019). P-IE has historically partnered with other ESA sections and other societies (e.g., Weed Science Society of America) as appropriate for these tours.

The biocontrol tour was held against the backdrop of the Washington state tree fruit industry, which has a long history of successful implementation of classical, augmentative, and conservation biological control. Fifty-two participants met the first evening at Pybus Public Market for dinner and discussions to set the stage for the tour. Initial discussion groups mixed tour participants to ensure that each table encompassed a variety of viewpoints, including university researchers, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers, growers, crop consultants, and biocontrol and agrochemical industry professionals.

Participants were asked to describe the biggest challenges for biocontrol implementation from the perspective of their current position or crop system and to brainstorm potential solutions to these challenges as a group. While the details of the challenges varied, in general, groups agreed that education—through additional research and extension activities—and improved communication between groups were key to addressing the challenges. This networking activity was one of the most enjoyed parts of the tour, and one participant noted that, “Having a small group of the right people in the room is the way to share information and get problems solved.”

On a gravel road near an orchard, a man holds a clear cylinder while standing next to a black and red eight-rotor drone on the ground.
A group of people standing at the edge of an orchard looking into the sky, where a drone is flying above them.
A red four-wheel all-terrain vehicle sits in the grass near plants at an orchard. On the back of the ATV is a green metal frame that holds up caged metal fans and white buckets above them on silver poles. In front of the ATV is a white box that says "KOPPERT."
Two people look closely at a sample of small dark insects in a petri dish that one of them is holding.
About 10 people have a discussion while sitting at a long picnic bench in a pavilion on a sunny day.
People seated in metal folding chairs in rows viewing a presentation on a projector screen.
A man reaches into a mesh cage in a scientific laboratory as three other people watch.

Zirkle Fruit Company hosted the field components of the tour at its Othello Ranch location. We started the day with demonstrations of deploying natural enemies for augmentation via drone (by G.S. Long Company and Parabug) and via a vehicle-mounted blower (by Koppert). Other insectary companies provided updates about available natural enemies and other products, and the team from Washington summarized ongoing research on release best practices. Sunview Vineyards (California) described the operation for rearing its own predatory mites for release to control spider mites. Participants walked through an on-farm native floral planting to scout for beneficial insects and were given an overview of the environmental and economic benefits of the planting by Zirkle’s Teah Smith and Corin Pease of the Xerces Society.

Next, a set of classroom talks covered a variety of topics on conservation biological control, including pesticide compatibility and a summary of the history of conservation biological control in Washington tree fruit, courtesy of Betsy Beers, Ph.D., of Washington State University. The day ended with a talk by Judith Stahl, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley, on the classical biological control quarantine and approval process and a ceremonial “releasing of the wasps” by Jana Lee, Ph.D., project lead for the spotted wing drosophila areawide management project at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), including releases of Ganaspis brasiliensis.

The next morning, the group met at Walla Walla Point Park for donuts and coffee and to discuss what they had learned from the tour. Nearly all participants agreed that they gained useful information during the tour and would apply something that they had learned. The most popular “take home” ideas were beneficial plantings and releasing biocontrol agents (either from a practitioner or researcher perspective). Networking opportunities were by far the most popular part of the tour. Industry professionals hoped that the tour showed students that biological control was a viable career, emphasizing that all aspects of the industry need trained, motivated practitioners with a well-rounded agronomic background to be successful.

During the Biocontrol Field Tour hosted by the ESA Plant-Insect Ecosystems Section in the Wenatchee, Washington, area in May 2022, participants viewed a demonstration of releasing lacewings into an orchard using a drone. (Video by Aaron DeHerrera)

Participants came away with an increased understanding of the importance of demonstrations to show the viability of particular management tools. Growers emphasized that it is important to set realistic expectations, because biocontrol often requires a longer timeline to demonstrate its success than pesticides. Areas where more research is most needed were underscored: quantifying biocontrol effects and economic analysis in a variety of crops, making tailored best-practice recommendations, and developing management thresholds that include natural enemies (i.e., “farmer-izing” biocontrol) in the equation.

The tour provided networking opportunities for entomology graduate students and early career professionals. Thanks to more than $5,000 in sponsorships, we were able to provide travel support to two students and two ECP members, who received funding through a competitive application process. Congratulations once again to Monica Farfan, Ph.D., executive director of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative at  Colorado State University; Ashley Leach, Ph.D., assistant professor at Ohio State University; Julian Cosner, doctoral student at the University of Tennessee; and Charlotte Schuttler, master’s student at Michigan State University. Sponsors included Certis Biologicals, Corteva Agriscience, FMC Corporation, Marrone Bio Innovations, and Trécé, Inc.

On the third and final morning of the Biocontrol Field Tour hosted by the ESA Plant-Insect Ecosystems Section in the Wenatchee, Washington, area in May 2022, participants gathered for a group photo after breakout discussions. (Photo by Dalton Ludwick, Ph.D.)

Did you miss out on the 2022 field tour? More P-IE Section field tours are still to come! This year, an Invasive Species Field Tour will be held in Orlando, Florida, September 12-14, 2023. The tour will focus on various invasive pests affecting natural and managed landscapes in the southern U.S., including forest pests, agricultural pests, and pests in urban and suburban areas. Experts in entomology and pathology who are focused on both research and management will discuss how these pests arrived, what we are trying to do about them, and what the future holds for invasive pest detection and management. Learn more and register by July 31 for a discounted rate.

Do you have an idea for a future field tour? The P-IE Section is seeking new tour ideas and organizers for 2024 and beyond. Contact P-IE Section leadership if you have an idea or for more information on how to plan a successful tour.

Rebecca Schmidt-Jeffris, Ph.D., is a research entomologist at the USDA-ARS  Temperate Tree Fruit & Vegetable Research Unit in Wapato, Washington. Email:  rebecca.schmidt@usda.gov. Dalton Ludwick, Ph.D., is an assistant professor and extension entomologist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Corpus Christi, Texas. Alix Whitener, Ph.D., is the U.S. field development manager at FMC Corporation in Malaga, Washington. Teah Smith is an entomologist and agriculture consultant at Zirkle Fruit Company in Wenatchee, Washington.

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