Grasshoppers: The troublemakers!

grasshoper1Grasshoppers belong to the insect order Orthoptera (“straight wing”), a group whose major characteristic is long hind legs, adapted for jumping. Another distinguishing feature is the presence of short antennae; this separates the order from a related order, Grylloptera (crickets, katydids, mole crickets and camel crickets), sometimes confusingly referred to as the “long-horned” grasshoppers.

Grasshopper has been on average, the most economically important pest in Canada; although. The first record of an outbreak from the Prairie Provinces was from Saskatchewan in 1800. Certain species of grasshoppers did not become abundant, however, until about 1900 when road-building; drainage and cultivation in southern Manitoba created favorable breeding sites and greatly increased the abundance of suitable food plants.

Grasslands like American Prairie Reserve are homes to a bounty of insects that help the ecosystem grow and flourish. They also include potentially loss prone insects like grasshoppers. They are mainly grass feeders. Economic damage is primarily to cereals, especially wheat and barley. Native and migratory grasshoppers have together destroyed areas of range grass and hay almost entirely. Grasshopper outbreaks have cost tens of millions of dollars in annual crop damage over the past several years. Grasshoppers and Mormon crickets, today still cause an estimated $1.5 billion in damage to grazing lands in the American West.

Damage to cereal crops is generally concentrated near field margins and is caused when hatchling grasshoppers move out of egg beds into field edges; damage to grasslands tends to be more evenly distributed. Damage to cereals includes leaf notching and stripping but is most costly when stems are severed just below the heads of maturing or mature crops. When grasshopper numbers are extremely high and natural plant hosts in short supply, grasshoppers will consume or attempt to consume any plants or plant products that they come upon during their migrations in search of food. Grasshoppers have a major impact on plants by changing the way nitrogen cycles work in grasslands. The grasshoppers speed up the process of nitrogen recycling by selectively feeding on plants that take longer to decompose, plant production increases. However, if they selectively feed on plants that decompose quickly, nitrogen becomes less available to the soil and plant production decreases.

Grasshoppers are the most difficult insect to control because they are highly mobile. All grasshoppers lay their eggs in soil. There are over 100 species of grasshoppers in Colorado.

During periods when local outbreaks are developing, control usually involves using sprays or baits

Problems tend to increase beginning in early summer and can persist until hard frosts. Among vegetable crops certain plants are favored by the grasshoppers such as lettuce, carrots, beans, sweet corn, and onions. Squash, peas, and tomatoes are among the plants that tend to be avoided. Grasshoppers less commonly feed on leaves of trees and shrubs. However, during outbreak years even these may be damaged. Furthermore, grasshoppers may incidentally damage shelterbelt plantings when they rest on twigs and gnaw on bark, sometimes causing small branches to die back.

Grasshoppers defoliate grasses by direct feeding on leaf and stem tissue and by cutting off leaves or stems and heads while feeding. High populations of grasshoppers on range land can damage plant crowns so severely that many grass plants will not recover. Grasshopper economic thresholds in a cereal crop are typically eight to 12 per sq. meter, but in lentils two grasshoppers are considered too many. As farm commodity prices rise the cost of damage done by individual insects rises along with them, dropping the threshold numbers that dictate when it starts to pay to take action.

Let us look at the following news article:

grasshopper news

 

 

 

Grasshoppers devour and damage area north of Chico

Heather Hacking, Chico Enterprise-Record; POSTED: 06/26/15, 2:49 PM PDT | UPDATED: ON 06/26/2015

Baji Hantelman isn’t expecting any red garden tomatoes this year. She’s also not holding her breath for the first fig or nectarine.

Any hopes of backyard produce were dashed when the ground, the trees, the fence posts were found crawling with grasshoppers. After just a few weeks, her garden is nibbled down to sticks and stems.

How many grasshoppers? So many that the critters line the wires of the fences, climb along the side of the house. The bugs are so thick on the driveway Hantelmen hears a distinct “squish” when she backs up her car.

To quantify her misery, she counted the grasshoppers on one square meter of ground. The total was 70.

In addition to the garden, the critters are at work on the 100-year-old almond orchard nearby.

The trouble seems to be isolated to an approximately two-mile area north of Chico, she said, near Meridian Road and east of Highway 99, from Wookey to Munjar roads, she estimated.

This is where Hantelman and her husband Richard Coon own Wookey Ranch. They produce pasture-grown sheep, turkey and hogs.

Normally, the sheep are carefully rotated through the pastures. However the grasshoppers got there first and they’ll need to buy supplemental feed.

The feed bill for turkeys was low for a couple of weeks because the birds were moved across the land and could feast on grasshoppers.

Native Americans in this area are known to have eaten grasshoppers and other insects for protein.

Hantelman said she tried to catch some to fry in an iron skillet, but found them too difficult to catch.

The problem of grasshoppers has happened before, including in 2003. Another grasshopper year was in the 1990s.

Hantelman looked up the particular pests she has come to know well. They are Melanoplus devastator, which seems like an appropriate name. They certainly devastate the plants, she said.

In a normal year, the population of grasshoppers won’t be that large because a wet spring can drown the eggs or damage the nymphs, she explained.

INSECTS COME AND GO

Agricultural Commissioner Richard Price explained that surges in grasshopper populations occur periodically, with a handful of reports this year. The insects lay eggs in the spring. High moisture at the young stages of their development can control the population due to a fungus that occurs in damp soil, Price explained. In these dry times there has not been moisture nor fungus, he said.

In the past, grasshoppers were a problem on the land that is now paved over by the Chico Mall. The mall opened in 1988. Before that the area was burned every once in a while to control the insects, Price said.

To treat grasshoppers, a bait can be used when the creatures are small, he said. But they’re more difficult to control as they reach maturity.

The life cycle of grasshoppers includes egg pouches deposited in moist soil in the spring.

They emerge as little hoppers, without wings, he continued. They go through seven stages, casting their skin each time, and eventually developing wings to fly and mate.

Typically, they’ll eat everything they can until food runs out or it gets too cold, usually about 3-5 months.

“If you think of it from a grasshopper’s viewpoint, they are on the range, things are drying up and there is nothing to eat,” said Steve Heydon, senior scientist at the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis.

“There’s this house that has a watered garden that’s green and tasty.

“They wander around and when they hit a spot with food, they stay,” Heydon said.

His guess is that more of the eggs survived and hatched last year due to the mild, dry weather.

If its any consolation for Heydon said, the lack of water might mean very few places for the adult grasshoppers to lay their eggs. Next year could be relatively-bug free.

Now that her garden and backyard orchard are stripped, Hantelman has a very clear view of what grasshoppers don’t eat — California bay, manzanita, deer grass, rosemary, sage, marjoram and thyme.

grasshopper3We can see that grasshoppers are a definite cause of worry for cultivators and gardeners all over the world. As mentioned before it is very difficult to implement grasshopper control using insecticides or pesticides as they are extremely mobile and thus difficult to contain.

In such a scenario Combirepel™, a product by C Tech Corporation offers a viable solution. Combirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous, termite and insect aversive available in liquid as well as masterbatch form. It works on the mechanism of repellence whereby it works in keeping target species like grasshoppers, insect and pests away from the application that needs to be protected. It can be sprayed on the crops and grasses to keep grasshoppers at bay and also foil their attempts at an outbreak!

 

 

Ants in electric equipments!

ants in electric 1Ants often invade outdoor electric equipment such as pad mounted transformers, traffic light control boxes, irrigation control boxes, heating and air conditioning units, and telecommunication equipment. Once inside they can cause equipment to malfunction due to ants chewing through wiring insulation or other equipment components or accumulation of soil and dead ants. Paper wasps, honey bee and other such insects will also build nest inside such equipment. These nests can cause shorts and mechanical problem. Not only ants damage equipment, but it is much more difficult to service or repair equipment that’s swarming with ants.

ants-in-contactor-2-2BIGIn Texas alone, costs associated with fire ant damages to electrical and communications equipment totaled $146.5 million per year. Vandermeer et al. (2002) suggest that where ants of any species are very numerous they will, through natural foraging activity, randomly get into the switch boxes, or transformers, etc. They are shocked when they come between live contacts, at which time the pheromone attraction is initiated. Carpenter ants  have been documented to cause sprinkler irrigation system control boards to malfunction in Florida. On a circuit board, short circuits may be caused when ants conduct electricity between different circuits. Another documented case involved acrobat ants causing an air conditioner unit to malfunction in Austin, Texas, resulting in replacement of the entire switching mechanism at a cost of $196.54. In this instance, once ants were electrocuted, their dried bodies in the switch prevented the switch from closing to conduct electricity.

Let us take a look at the recent incident where these ants were successful in damaging the brake cables in local trains risking the life of commuters.

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Mumbai: Ants Chew Up Brake Cables in Local Train

Mumbai | mid-day.com | Updated: November 19, 2015 13:20 IST

 ants newsAnts chewed up the cables inside an Electro Pneumatic brake. Officials say ants are difficult to manage, but regular pest control is carried out.

 The lifeline of Mumbai, the suburban local trains carry lakhs of people every day, but in this case, a rake was also ferrying thousands of hidden passengers – red ants. To make matters worse, these red ants gnawed through the primary brake cables.

The incident happened inside a Kalyan-Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus local train around 1.30 pm yesterday and the coaches were comparatively less crowded.

 

“As it crossed Matunga, the motorman saw a flicker on the dashboard, indicating that one of the cables connecting the EP brake was not working efficiently,” said a Central Railway (CR) official on condition of anonymity.

 

The Electro Pneumatic (EP) brake being the primary one inside the Siemens rake, the motorman then had to shift his attention to the secondary brakes.

Motormen have come to rely on the EP brake, in which the electrics take care of the braking and acceleration with little manual or mechanical intervention. This brake is like a joystick on the right side of the dashboard panel and the entire train, including its speed and braking, can be controlled by using it.

Backup provision

Sources said that after the EP brake failure, the rake was then run as a normal one, without the EP brake, all the way to CST, without it getting hampered by any technical glitch.

During this time the secondary brakes – which comprises an Auto brake – was put into use to take the train all the way till CST. “The train was then taken to Kurla carshed for inspection,” added the official. This is when the officials found thousands of red ants chewing the already damaged cables and insulators of the EP brake.

The official added, “The SKS12 cable insulator and in-coder cable were found damaged. We then had to replace them with a new one out of the stock.”

Meanwhile, the CR officials blame the motormen for not knowing to operate Auto brakes which are as good as the EP ones. Sources said that ever since the new rakes have come in, a single joystick is sufficient for acceleration and deceleration of trains. The Auto brakes and other semi-manual ones are on the left side of the dashboard panel.

“The motormen have more or less forgotten to use the Auto brakes, which was earlier an important part in older trains while manoeuvring them. We will now be training the 800-odd motormen to apply Auto brakes on a regular journey,” said the CR officials. The training will begin on the Kalyan-Karjat/Kasara route in the next couple of days during off-peak time when the motormen will be monitored while applying Auto brakes.

In this case, CR officials claim that the motorman could have easily used the secondary brakes without panicking. These Auto brakes are semi-manual ones where there is little electronic control. When the Auto brakes are pressed, pressure is applied or released through a piston that then controls the braking of the entire rake. This was how the older rakes used to function.

Official speak

“There is no need to panic as the braking system is foolproof. There are three other brakes to ensure that there are no problems in the running of the train. Ants are difficult to control but regular pest control is carried out,” said Narendra Patil, chief PRO, CR.

Combating the ant menace

Every rake undergoes pest control during the periodic overhauling every 18 months. Apart from this, the authorities try to ensure that there are no anthills inside the car shed, where trains are parked in large numbers.

Dealing with emergencies

There is a ‘dead man handle’ – that is like a spring on the joystick – which ensures that the train comes to a halt if the motorman is incapacitated or other brakes don’t function. The guard too has an emergency brake inside his cabin that is completely manual.

The joystick where the EP brake is present also has a regenerative brake in it wherein the train saves power of 33 per cent every time the brake is applied. When the EP is pulled backward, the regenerative braking works up to the speed of 5 km/h

 ants in electric 2.jpAlthough ants are frustrating when they get into your home or when you’re having a picnic, ants do help the environment. They, through moving of soil by nest building activity and by collecting food they affect the level of nutrients in the soil. This can indirectly impact the local populations of many animal groups, from decomposers such as Collembola, to species much higher up the food chain. But at same time the damage done by these creatures cannot be ignored.  Malfunctions in such equipment are costly to repair and can result in power failures or disrupted service. Although it is important to protect such sensitive equipment from insects and the methods used to prevent or control the insects not be damaging the equipment, it is equally important to not kill or harm these insects. Thus use of traditional toxic pellets, insecticides is not viable.

C Tech Corporation offers a non-toxic and non-hazardous product, Termirepel™ to protect the electrical application and cables from these ravenous insects. It is an environmentally safe product that works by repelling the insects without causing any harm to the target or non-target species. Termirepel™ is available in concentrate and lacquer form. It can also be used as a liquid solution. Termirepel™ can be safely incorporated into the PVC insulation of wires and cables or coated on surfaces to keep crazy ants away from the application. Termirepel™ can also be incorporated in agricultural films and mulches for the protection of trees and bushes against these creatures.

 

 

Conehead termites

downloadNasutitermes Corniger, more commonly referred to as the conehead termite, is an invasive species of termite that aggressively eats wood in just about any form. Its nickname stems from the cone shape of its soldier termites’ heads. Soldiers make up an unusually large portion of the total conehead termite colony – anywhere from 20-30% of the colony. Only 1-2 percent of subterranean and drywood colonies are soldiers. Another way to distinguish conehead termites is by the appearance of their tunnels. While subterranean termites also build mud tunnels, coneheads build wider and much more extensive tunnels than subterranean. Still another distinctive characteristic is the appearance of their nest. Visible conehead termite nests are usually built in the open, perhaps in a tree, and look like a large, dark-brown “bumpy” round or oval shaped ball.

Conehead termites are species native to the Caribbean. They were first brought to Florida via wooden Pallets delivered from Caribbean Island in 2001. Residents in Florida referred to them as ‘Tree Termites’ for years but they were renamed conehead termites to alleviate the misconception that this pest is only found in trees. They act like peers infesting any wood it can find to feed, build colonies, and generally wreak havoc.

They grow in hot, humid environment, which is why they prefer tropical and sub tropical region. Unlike most termites, the conehead termite does not rely on underground tunneling to travel. Instead, they forage on the ground like ants, allowing them t  o spread quickly. Conehead termites are an extremely aggressive termite species known for causing widespread property damage in a short period of time.

u5 Termites are nothing new to South Florida; 20 or so species provide a challenge to homeowners and a steady income to the pest-control industry. What makes this termite different is that it lives above ground, so it doesn’t compete with the more common subterranean termites.“The behavior and biology of conehead termites are entirely different from what the industry is accustomed to,” said Allen Fugler, executive vice president of the Florida Pest Management Association. “It will build a nest in a tree. It looks like a paper wasp nest, and it could be easily overlooked, even by trained professionals.

In early 2000, The department of agriculture along with Florida Pest Management Association and Certified Pest Control Operators of Florida worked together to devise consistent, reliable control methods the average pest-control operator can use. The department had requested $202,000 from the state Legislature and the National Pest Management Association lobbying Congress for matching funds on a three to one ratio, for a maximum of $606,000 in federal money. The funds were used towards training and subsidizing termite control for property owners, who can’t afford it, said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association.

Let us have a look at the below article regarding how this coneheads again invaded the colonies in south Florida’s Dania Beach.

local

Conehead termites invade Dania Beach

Species first discovered in city in 2001

Author: Jenise Fernandez, Reporter, jfernandez@local10.com

Published On: Apr 28 2015 12:49:50 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 28 2015 12:57:00 PM ED

DANIA BEACH, Fla. –

sfl-termite-species-pictures-003Broward County is experiencing a major bug problem, as conehead termites are spreading throughout the area just before termite swarming season.

The conehead termites popped up in Dania Beach about 14 years ago. Since then, experts have been able to contain the species. On Tuesday they were out at several properties, destroying nests before swarming season.

Experts said the colonies of conehead termites are nestled in the trees and not visible to the naked eye.

The insect is a ravenous Caribbean termite that’s easily recognizable by its pointy head. The species is also considered dangerous and highly adaptable.

Termites_large“It can also get into ornamentals, fruit trees. There’s almost nothing that it won’t eat,” science adviser Barbara Thorne said.

The species first popped up in Dania Beach in 2001.

To prevent them for spreading, experts go out once a year to try to destroy the nests in hopes of eradicating the species altogether.

“What you want to do is contain them here and kill them before they swarm to another location,” Andy Rackley, with the Florida Department of Agriculture, said.

A property off of Southwest 45th Street is one of two active nesting grounds for the conehead termites. But despite that, experts believe they’re doing a good job at making sure the species doesn’t spread throughout the county.

Experts said once they spot a nest, they destroy and incinerate it. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of termites are expected to take to the air and find their territories during swarming season.

“This termite is very capable of spreading quickly and probably quite far in South Florida if not beyond,” Thorne said.

The process of killing the termites takes about a day and a half. Once the nests are destroyed, experts will come back out to make sure no more pop up.

These pointy heads are responsible for much of the estimated $40 billion in economic losses attributed to termites annually. Their habitat ranges over in South Florida, already home to a daunting number of invasive plant and animal species thriving where they should not. It is not always possible for an untrained individual to see evidence of termites; however, homeowners can sometimes identify a potential termite problem by being vigilant in and around the home. Thus termination of these termites is need of an hour.

C Tech Corporation, an Indian based company has come up with a novel solution to deal with such problems. Termirepel ™ is an aversive for termites and insects. It has unique qualities which range from being non toxic and non hazardous to being “ECO-FRIENDLY”. Aggressive species are further deterred from attacking by advanced mechanisms like aversion, feeding deterrents, mating disruption, reproduction cycle inhibition, growth impairment and chemo sterilization thus modifying their response towards the Termirepel containing products resulting in them staying away from the application. Thus, Termirepel actually helps in modifying insect behavior. It does not harm or kill the insect but just repels them away from the application.

Getting rid of termites-The non-toxic way!

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Termites though extremely small and tiny creatures have managed to stir us humans into noticing them and acknowledging their existence. The primary reason is the tune of damage they cause which has a direct impact on the economy of the country and thus the humans. Termites attack in groups and feed on any form of cellulose especially wood. This little bit of trivia makes us realize that almost everything around us is susceptible to a termite attack. Termites always seek for moisture filled places and therefore basements and the space under wooden boards are their favorable infestation places. Termite damage often looks similar to water damage. Outward signs of termite damage include buckling wood, swollen floor sand ceilings, areas that appear to be suffering from slight water damage and visible mazes within walls or furniture. Termite infestations also can exude a scent similar to mildew or mold. Dry wood termite infestations may only become apparent after a colony has burrowed so deeply into an infested item that the veneer cracks and the maze-like tunnels beneath become visible. Such damage is common in antique furniture pieces.

One of the most favourite termite snack is paper in any form. The below article proves my point;

Death penalty files ‘lost, eaten by termites’

Pradeep Thakur & Himanshi Dhawan,TNN | Aug 3, 2015, 01.41 AM IST

NEW DELHI: Records of death penalty convicts who have been executed since independence have gone missing from many prisons with the National Law University (NLU), conducting a first of its kind study, able to confirm data related to 755 executions since 1947.

“Some prison authorities have written to us that either the records have been lost or destroyed by termites,” NLU director Anup Surendranath told TOI, who is heading the death penalty research project. The NLU is compiling data on all prisoners who have been executed since independence with the help of the central government.

The missing files are not only a serious lapse on part of prison authorities but has also hampered an ongoing attempt to study all death row convicts to ascertain the fairness of the capital punishment jurisprudence, particularly those who have been executed in independent India.

The casual attitude towards death row convicts is reflected in the loss of mercy pleas of Krishna Mochi and three others in the Krishna Mochi & Ors vs. Bihar case of 2001. Convicted by the TADA court, mercy pleas of the four have been lost by the Union home ministry. Their pleas were sent to the President in 2003, and a recent RTI response to Suhas Chakma of Asian Centre for Human Rights has revealed that the home ministry has no records available. “These papers have evidently been lost,” Chakma said.

Loss of data on executed prisoners reflects poorly on the record-keeping of the government and the judicial system. Incidentally, the 35th report of the law commission had confirmed execution of at least 1,410 death row prisoners in a span of 10 years—between 1953 and 1963.

Data by the National Crime Records Bureau is also not without gaps. For example the NCRB claims that as many as 2,052 individuals were awarded capital punishment by courts between 1998 and 2013. And the NCRB also says between 2001 and 2013 the number of those whose death sentences were commuted was double: 4,497 persons.

CHRI’s Venkatesh Nayak says that this is where the NCRB data becomes “questionable”. “The discrepancies probably crept in when jail authorities counted all commutations even those of shortened prison time,” he said.

“Information on executions are sourced from various prisons and courts across the country which do not reveal either the religious or caste backgrounds of the convicts who have been executed,” Surendranath points out. The NLU report on death penalty is scheduled for release in mid-August where a detailed analysis of socio-economic profile, legal representation and duration on death row would be made public.

The NLU has conducted interviews of 373 surviving death penalty convicts and has drawn their socio-economic profile. The analysis of these surviving prisoners shows that an overwhelming majority of them are from backward class, religious minorities and economically vulnerable classes. In the category of terror offences, 94% prisoners sentenced to death are Dalits and religious minorities.

“We have been unable to find an exhaustive list of prisoners executed in India. However, as per a report of the Law Commission (1967), the total number of cases in which the sentence of death was executed from 1953 to 1963 was 1,410,” Surendranath said.

termite-damageOne can only imagine how much damage these insects can inflict on our ever powerful judicial system. Sure we can punish human criminals but what about these little criminals??

We at C Tech Corporation can provide a long lasting and effective solution to combat termite infestations. Our product Termirepel™ is a non-toxic and non- hazardous termite aversive. It is effective against a host of termite species including dampwood termites as also the most aggressive ones. It is available in the form of polymer compatible masterbatches as well as in lacquer form. It can be mixed with paint or any organic solvent to create a solution for topical use.  Termirepel™ is the one and only effective solution to our termite woes!