Butterflies- magnificent but endangered…

butterfly.Butterflies are magnificent creatures- vibrant and colorful. They are very important for our ecosystem. Some butterflies have evolved symbiotic and parasitic relationships with social insects such as ants. Some species are pests because in their larval stages they can damage domestic crops or trees; however, some species are agents of pollination of some plants, and caterpillars of a few butterflies   eat harmful insects. Butterflies exhibit polymorphism, mimicry and aposematism. Butterflies may have one or more broods per year. The number of generations per year varies from temperate to tropical regions with tropical regions showing a trend towards multivoltinism. Butterflies feed primarily on nectar from flowers. Some also derive nourishment from pollen tree sap, rotting fruit, dung, decaying flesh, and dissolved minerals in wet sand or dirt. Butterflies are important as pollinators for some species of plants as they can carry pollen over long distances.

Monarch_Among the many species of butterflies a special mention has to be made of the truly breath taking Monarch butterflies. Monarch butterflies named so because of their huge size are also called as wanderers mostly because of the characteristic trait they exhibit of migration. These butterflies are famous for their southward migration and northward return in summer from Canada to Mexico and Baja California which spans the life of three to four generations of the butterfly. Monarch butterflies are one of the few insects which can cross the Atlantic. Monarch butterflies primarily feed on milkweed plants which contain cardiac glycosides which make them distasteful as preys and thus protect them from their predators.

Decline in insect populations over long periods is viewed as a natural phenomenon but this is   not true in case of Monarch butterflies. “Monarchs have been faced with the loss of habitat for many years”, said Jen Baker, Head-of-the-Lake Land Trust Program coordinator for the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club.

egg on milkweedMilkweed, the Monarch larvae’s main food source as well as where they lay their eggs, has been depleting. The main reason for this steady decline is the unrestricted use of pesticides and weedicides. These harmful and toxic chemicals might protect the other plants from insects but they sure manage to kill the milkweed plant. The number of milkweed plants has decreased by 58 percent from 1997 to 2010 almost entirely from losses in cultivated fields due to indiscriminate use of herbicides. An army of volunteers in the U of M-based Monarch Larva Monitoring Project has been collecting data on the numbers of monarch eggs per milkweed plant in more than 800 milkweed patches around the country Also, since monarchs lay more eggs on milkweeds if they’re in cultivated fields, egg production was disproportionately affected by the loss of agricultural milkweed plants. The researchers estimate that between 1999 and 2010, monarch egg production in the Midwest dropped by 81 percent.

Christine Dell’Amore of National Geographic News wrote in her article dated 18th March, 2013 that in December 2012, scientists surveying Monarch habitat in Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve found the insects  occupied 59 percent less land than the previous year—the smallest area recorded in 20 years. Nine butterfly colonies were found in just 2.94 acres (1.19 hectares) of land, compared with 7.14 acres (2.89 hectares) in 2011 and a high of 44.9 acres (18.19 hectares) in 1997, according to the report, released March 13.

This is alarming news for the Monarch butterflies as well as us since widespread depletion of Monarch butterfly populations will have a direct effect on the pollination of some flowers and subsequently disturb the food chain. Thus it is the need of the hour to curb the use of toxic and harmful chemicals as weedicides and switch over to a more environment friendly as well as non-toxic way to protect the plants while ensuring that non-target species like butterflies are not harmed in any way. Termirepel and Rodrepel are coming of age products which have the unique attributes of being non-toxic and environment friendly insect and pest aversives. They are meant to repel and not kill the target species and have no effect whatsoever on non-target species like butterflies which are very helpful in pollination.

Termirepel™ against Spruce budworm

downloadSpruce budworm is one of the most damaging native insects of spruces and true fir in the USA and Canada. Their food of choice is conifers mainly balsam fir, white spruce and red spruce. During light or moderate infestations the damage is restricted to a partial loss of new foliage, particularly in the upper crown of the tree. During a major outbreak, tens of millions of hectares of trees can be severely defoliated by the insect. This in turn can result in significant losses of important timber and non-timber resources, negatively affecting the forest industry and forestry-dependent communities. Spruce budworm outbreaks have devastated huge areas of forests on a more or less regular basis since the 18th century.

Spruce budworms and its relatives are a group of closely related insects in the genus Choristoneura. There are nearly forty Choristoneura species, and even more subspecies, or forms, with a complexity of variation among populations found throughout much of the United States and Canada, and about again this number in Eurasia.

download (2)Adult moths are about 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) long and have a wing-spread of 7/8 to 11/8 inches (22 to 28mm). Moths of both sexes are similar in appearance, although the females are a bit more robust than males. Both sexes fly. The gray- or orange-brown forewings are banded or streaked, and each usually has a conspicuous white dot on the wing margin. Eggs are oval, light green, and about 3/64 inch (1.2mm) long and overlap like shingles. The adults mate, and within 7 to 10 days, the female deposits her eggs and then dies. Each female deposits approximately 150 eggs, usually on the underside of conifer needles. Eggs are laid in one to three-row masses containing a few to 130 eggs, with an average of 25 to 40 eggs per mass. Larvae hatch from eggs in about 10 days. Larvae do not feed, but seek sheltered places under bark scales or in and among lichens on the tree bole or limbs. Here, they spin silken tents in which they remain inactive through the winter.

download (1)The native spruce budworm is a major defoliator of conifer forests, where it attacks mainly balsam fir and spruces and occasionally other conifer species. In the mid-1980s, the spruce budworm destroyed more than 10 million cubic meters of wood in Quebec, Canada alone. The larvae are to be blamed for this. They first mine or tunnel into year-old needles, closed buds, or newly developing vegetative or reproductive buds. Larvae prefer buds but will also attack old needles. The first symptoms of damage are usually frass and silk webs in buds or on last year’s needles. Tree crowns may appear brown as a result of partly chewed needles, dead buds and frass being webbed together and thus held at branch tips to dry. During outbreaks, it is common to see large numbers of caterpillars hanging from the ends of silk threads. This allows them to spin further down the tree canopy, or to be carried considerable distance by air currents. In light infestations, partial loss of new foliage, particularly in the upper crown, may occur. In heavier infestations, more serious defoliation may result. Defoliation for three years or more will reduce tree vitality and may produce top kill of leaders and some terminal branch shoots. Five to seven successive years of defoliation will lead to tree mortality. A single, complete defoliation commonly kills conifers.

The availability of extensive forests of susceptible host trees is a primary contributor to the development of widespread outbreaks, mostly by supporting the survival of small larvae and maturation of moths that reproduce and migrate to new areas. The last extensive outbreak of spruce budworm in Canada reached its peak in the 1970s, damaging more than 50 million hectares. Steady increase in the area of forest damaged by spruce budworm has been observed in eastern Canada since 2006, perhaps heralding a new, extensive outbreak in that part of the country. The damage caused by this worm goes into millions of dollars annually in the USA as well as Canada.

Let us see the following news article:

Bracing for spruce budworm assault

Chris Morris

Legislature Bureau

18 Jul 2013 07:46AM

FREDERICTON – Researchers are hunting for ways to out manoeuvre the spruce budworm as the insects begin massing for a major assault on the forests of New Brunswick and eastern Canada. Rob Johns, a researcher with the Canadian Forest Service in Fredericton, said Wednesday the budworm outbreak in Quebec is expanding and there are fears the infestation could spread into New Brunswick in the near future.“It will come pretty quickly when it does come,” Johns said in an interview. He said he was looking at video sent to him earlier this week of a mass migration of budworm moths across the St. Lawrence River to Rimouski.

“There were millions flying around in this parking lot to the point where you could scoop them up in your hands,” he said. Johns said the budworms have caused severe to moderate damage over as much as six million hectares of Quebec forest so far. He said the outbreak has been roughly doubling since it first began in the Baie Comeau area in 2006. Spruce budworm is a forest insect pest native to North America whose larva feed on balsam fir and spruce trees. Historically, outbreaks have occurred every 30 to 50 years in northeastern North America.

The last outbreak of spruce budworm began in roughly the 1970s. The last significant spruce budworm damage observed in New Brunswick occurred in 1995.

Johns said that during the last major outbreak, 51 million hectares were infested throughout northeastern North America and “40 per cent of the trees hit heavily by the budworm died.”

“The spruce budworm caused significant tree mortality and volume loss during the last outbreak,” the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources said in a statement.

“It is uncertain at this point how severe the next outbreak will be in New Brunswick. However, we can expect that an uncontrolled spruce budworm outbreak will cause damage to our spruce and fir forests, resulting in potentially significant reductions to the amount of timber volume available for harvest and possible impacts on other forest values such as old spruce-fir wildlife habitat.” There are predictions a spruce budworm infestation could begin in earnest in New Brunswick in two years. The infestation in Quebec has reached the Gaspe, just a few kilometers from the New Brunswick border. Johns said governments, researchers and industry want to be prepared for the spruce budworm infestation this time and are studying ways to minimize the impact.

“The idea right now is we’re hoping that if we can start treating populations at low densities before they actually get to these huge epidemic levels then we can possibly keep them at bay and maintain a low level of infection,” he said.

“We are starting to test this early intervention strategy where we are actually trying to treat some of these very small populations.”

Johns said tests on small areas are being conducted in Quebec, but it is still too early to say whether it will be effective.

It’s expected the Madawaska region will likely be the first hit in New Brunswick.

Spraying for the spruce budworm costs approximately $80 per hectare. For a moderate outbreak, spraying could cost up to $80 million or, in the event of a crisis, roughly $200 million.

The cost would likely be split between different levels of government and industry.

The budworm problem has been a consistent and pestering one since the past several years. North America and especially Canada has suffered a lot due to this pesky pest. The hectares of forest land lost to this pest are on the increase and will further continue if appropriate steps are not taken. Outbreak of budworm infestation is quite sudden without a preamble.

Termirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous insect and pest repellant. Primarily designed to be used as a termite aversive, it is highly effective against a host of other insects and pests. It works by the mechanism of repellence by which it ensures that the target insect or pest stays away from the application without resorting to killing it. Termirepel™ is available in liquid form which can be mixed with paint and applied on conifers. It can also be used in the form of a spray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bed bug- The peace pillager!!

Ever been woken up from your blissful slumber by the tingly and crawly sensation of something wandering all over you??

Caution: Don’t shrug it off as just a feeling… you are not imagining it, it’s real, and it’s a bed bug!!

Bed bugs are the uninvited guests of the rich as well as poor. They are like the unwelcome party crashers that we all detest!! The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) has long been a pest – feeding on blood, causing itchy bites and generally irritating their human hosts.

download (4)Bed bugs are basically parasitic insects of the cimicid family that feed exclusively on blood. The name “bed bug” is derived from the preferred habitat of Cimex lectularius: warm houses and especially nearby or inside of beds and bedding or other sleep areas. Bed bugs are mainly active at night, but are not exclusively nocturnal. They usually feed on their hosts without being noticed. Bed bugs are attracted to their hosts primarily by carbon dioxide, secondarily by warmth, and also by certain chemicals. Bedbugs prefer exposed skin, preferably the face, neck and arms of a sleeping individual. Although under certain cool conditions adult bed bugs can live for over a year without feeding, under typically warm conditions they will try to feed at five to ten day intervals and adults can survive for about five months without food.

images (3)It takes between five and ten minutes for a bed bug to become completely engorged with blood. In all, the insect may have spent less than 20 minutes in physical contact with its host, and it will not attempt to feed again until it has either completed a molt or, if an adult has thoroughly digested the meal.

Once feeding is complete, a bed bug will relocate to a place close to a known host, commonly in or near beds or couches in clusters of adults, juveniles, and eggs which entomologists call  harborage areas or simply harborages to which the insect will return after future feedings by following chemical trails. Bed bugs use pheromones and kairomones to communicate regarding nesting locations, feeding and reproduction.

Bed bugs can also be detected by their characteristic smell of rotting raspberries.

“Wherever bed bugs are, one thing holds true – they cause a lot of troubles.”

imagesIn the recent spate of events worldwide, beg bugs are proving to be a beneficial source of income for lawyers!! As was reported by Mail online on 3rd June 2013, a Maryland woman was awarded $800k after suing landlord over bedbug infestation that caused her to lose “practically everything”!! The ruling was one of the largest – if not the largest – amounts awarded in this sort of law suit, was the experts’ opinion.

In another recent incident reported on 30th July, 2013 the very famous Dunn Hotel in North Carolina was closed owing to a suspected wide spread bed bug infestation. Investigators discovered remnants of bedbugs in bed frames and windowsills.

In December 2010, Adarien Jackson of Severn, Maryland filed a bed bug suit against a furniture store where she brought her sons’ bunks. A little more than a year later, the mother-of-two was favored by jury granting her $225,000 in damage.

images (2)For most people, bedbugs are not life-threatening — at least, not physically. Between 50% and 70% of people are allergic to the bites, and will develop itchy welts, similar to mosquito bites. In a few cases, the bugs have been linked to asthma attacks, and persistent assaults from the vampiric visitors can potentially lead to anemia. But while the physical effects of bedbugs are negligible, their emotional and psychological impact can be devastating. Dr. Jones, an associate professor of entomology at Ohio State University notes that “bedbug victims can lose lots of sleep and can become very anxious, or even panic-stricken.” Some develop delusional parasitosis, a mental disorder in which sufferers become convinced that they are being bitten by bugs, even when they are not. Jones stresses that this condition can have brutal physical and emotional effects.
The Environmental Protection Agency has declared bedbugs a public health pest and, in April 2009, it held a national bed bug summit to solicit recommendations for dealing with the growing menace. In it, the group highlighted the emotional and psychological effects of bedbugs, arguing that the definition of public health needed to be enlarged to include “overall wellness [and] mental health.” It also addressed the dangers of bedbug-inspired insomnia, noting that loss of sleep could be disastrous for “pilots, flight attendants, and other professionals.”

Thus the bed bug menace needs to be dealt with in an effective and permanent way!! C Tech Corporation has with the aid of green technology and great vision, designed a product that provides an effective solution against bed bugs. Termirepel ™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous insect and pest aversive. Basically designed to combat termites, it works effectively against a multitude of other insects including bed bugs.

Termirepel™ works by the mechanism of repellence by virtue of which it does not allow the insect/pest to come near the application and thus it negates the possibility of an infestation. Moreover it is available in the form of polymer compatible masterbatches as well as in lacquer form to be applied on wood and other furniture. Thus it is easy to apply and safe to use.

Termirepel™ can guarantee all of us the sweet joy of an uninterrupted sleep that we deserve by keeping the crawlers at bay!!

 

Australia held hostage- by vicious termites!!

“Termites are a bane to human existence!!”

Of the 2,300 species of termites known to exist in the world, only 183 are known to cause damage to structures, and of these, 83 have a significant economic impact!

 

images (1)Subterranean termites account for about 80 percent of the economically important species, and the genus Coptotermes contains the largest number of economically important species. Many thousand dollars are spent annually to combat these inconspicuous creatures. Control of subterranean termites and repair of their damage in the United States results in a total economic impact of about $6.0 billion per year. These Subterranean termites attack untreated wood and some also attack live trees. They are a huge problem in moist, warm climates along the western, southern, and southeastern coasts of the continental United States and in subtropical and tropical locations of the United States and its protectorates and possessions. They pose a significant hazard to the numerous Eucalyptus trees planted as ornamentals, as windbreaks, or for fiber.

 

images (6)They are the cause of great economic losses of timber and related services all over the world especially in Australia. Only a few of the more than 300 species found in Australia are responsible for structural timber damage. In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) region there are approximately 30 kinds of termites, although only a few cause extensive damage to sound timber. The two species that do most damage are Coptotermes frenchi and Nasutitermes exitiosus. Nasutitermes exitiosus are also associated with trees. Coptotermes frenchi and Nasutitermes exitiosus can establish nests if winged adults discover a damp area in the house, such as a shower recess or where the hot water system has leaked. They survive in places where water is readily available.

 

images (2)Nasutitermes exitiosus species is found most predominantly in southern Queensland and across most of the southern states of Australia. It is easily recognizable because, unlike other termite species, it has a dark pointed head, which makes it stand out. Nasutitermes exitiosus builds a mounded nest that is generally between 250mm and 700mm high. Their nests are generally found under decks and in sub-floors areas. They can cause a huge amount of damage to most wooden structures, especially hardwood fences, posts and sub-floors places where the timber is in direct contact with the earth or if the wood is damp or rotting. While this species is not as destructive as other termite species, left to their own devices they can still cause some serious problems. They are more of a problem for older homes that have not been well maintained where the timber has become wet. Interestingly this termite species has its own qualms regarding food. They do not like pine varieties, preferring the sapwood of hardwoods.

Defensive behavior of these termites was observed by scientists from Cornwell University, NY. The termites were confronted with live enemies like ants and other arthropods. It was observed that both soldiers and workers take part in the defensive actions. The weapon of destruction of the soldier termite is a spray from its frontal gland which causes irritation and has the capacity to hinder the mobility of the ant. The soldier’s secretion is an effective alarms pheromone. Once a target has been sprayed, the other soldiers converge around it. Attraction is effective around 30mm. The worker termites have no special weapons, but they can effectively bite. Ants may be crushed by the bites, or they may be slowed down by workers clamped to them with their mandibles and thereby rendered more vulnerable to being sprayed by soldiers. The substance in the secretion responsible for the alarm response remains unknown. The workers are essentially unalarmed by fresh secretion. Recruited soldiers tend to remain longer beside a “lively” sprayed enemy than beside one that has already ceased moving. It is suggested that in nature, sprayed incapacitated enemies might be covered over by the workers with feces and soil, a behavior that could bring about a timelier blockage of the alarm signal.

Nasutitermes exitiosus is almost invariably a mound builder in Canberra. If N. exitiosus is found it is likely there is a mound within 30-50 meters of the infested area, often in adjacent bush land. Nasutitermes exitiosus nests when opened have a distinct and characteristic odor which is thought to be associated with repellant exudates from the fontanelle at the tip of the nasus.

Another important species of termites which pose a threat to wooden structures are the widely infamous Coptotermes Frenchi. They can be found right down the east coast of Australia but are predominantly found in New South Wales and the Australian Capital territory (ACT) in particular, where it is rated as the most destructive termite species in the area. Coptotermes frenchi distribution extends from north Queensland to Western Australia in eucalyptus communities. Coptotermes frenchi has also become established in New Zealand, most likely introduced from Australia in imported logs.

images (4)They may travel underground up to 70m from the colony in search of food. They are particularly partial to eucalyptus and as such are commonly found in urban areas where eucalyptus is abundant. In the ACT many houses have pine or Oregon softwood frames, a favorite of this species. Because these subterranean termites can infest numerous tree species and wood in use, the presence of an acceptable host is not the critical factor. Rather, a suitable environment with an adequate supply of wood and appropriate temperature and moisture conditions are the key factors to their survival and proliferation. The initiation of a colony is a slow process, but wood in ground contact, moist wood in structures, and suitable host trees with scars or wounds at ports and storage facilities may provide an infestation site. The adults (alates) fly only about 100 m, but are capable of moving up to 1 km depending on wind conditions and weather.

These subterranean termites are highly destructive. Soldier termites produce milky liquid from a gland on their head when disturbed. Coptotermes frenchi is responsible for major damage to buildings, fences, posts, stumps and eucalypt trees. It is common for this species to devour timber framing leaving only a thin veneer. This species is the most shy of the destructive species; they will retreat from a location immediately (for the time being) if disturbed. They hollow out the upper part of the tree trunk. They feed on a range of timbers.

Nasutitermes exitiosus is almost invariably a mound builder in Canberra. If N. exitiosus is found it is likely there is a mound within 30-50 meters of the infested area, often in adjacent bush land. Coptotermes frenchi mostly nest in old eucalypt tree trunks. If these termites are detected, all large eucalyptus trees (trunks greater than 30 cm in basal diameter) or stumps within 60 meters should be checked. One indication of termite activity within trees is the presence of hollow broken branches. This is only indicative and a more reliable method is to test by drilling the tree. A drill auger (not larger than 19 mm diameter) should be used to bore holes towards the centre of the tree. If termites are present the centre will be hollow or filled with ‘mudguts’ and the auger will suddenly penetrate the tree easily. A thermometer may be used to determine if the nest has been located. Nests are a constant temperature of 300 deg Celsius. The installation of barriers, either physical or chemical, has also been used as a method to prevent termites from entering buildings.

Considering the potential for damage that these termite species have exhibited a reliable method to combat them needs to be devised. C Tech Corporation has come up with such a novel product in the form of Termirepel™. Termirepel ™ is a non-toxic, eco-friendly and completely non-hazardous termite repellant which is effective against even the most aggressive and destructive termite species like the ones encountered above!!

Termirepel™ works by the mechanism of repellence by virtue of which it does not allow the termites to come near the application and thus it negates the possibility of an infestation. The product is designed to not only counter the termite menace but is also effective against a host of other insects and pests. Termirepel™ can be applied over wooden articles in the form of a lacquer or finish. It is approved by NEA (National Environmental Agency) for use on wooden articles.

If Australia is to be protected against the vicious Nasutitermes exitiosus and Coptotermes frenchi Termirepel ™ is its best bet!!

 

 

 

 

The Asian Giant Hornet- A threat to honey bees…

Ever heard of the phrase “to stir up a hornet’s nest”??

Usually used to denote an action leading to undesirable and grave consequences the phrase stands true to itself. Indeed the hornets are scary and dangerous creatures and you sure don’t want to stir up their nest!!

download (1)The Asian Giant Hornets are the larger breed of wasps that are eusocial in nature much similar to bees, ants and termites. There are plenty of varieties of hornets, and some of them are known for their venomous stings. The most feared among them is the deadly Asian giant hornet which has the most venomous sting of all insects. This species is native of the tropics and can be found in numbers especially in eastern Asia. The Asian giant hornet – Vespa mandarinia is the world’s largest hornet, native to temperate and tropical Eastern Asia. It can be found in some regions of Russia, Korea, IndochinaNepalIndia, and Sri Lanka, but is most common in rural areas of Japan, where it is called giant sparrow bee. These hornets are aggressive and fearless which spells doom for their victims!

download (3)Their hierarchy is based on their ability to reproduce and hence is divided as the reproductive queens and sterile soldiers and workers. The average adult Asian hornet soldier or worker grows up to 4.5 cm and the queen about 5.5 cm in length. The wing span is about 76 mm and its 6 mm sting helps in injecting venom into the body of its prey. It has a wide head when compared to the other vespain species. The stinger of the Asian Giant Hornet is 1/4 inch long and because it has no barb, the Asian Giant Hornet is able to sting its victims multiple times.

The venom injected by the stinger is incredibly potent and contains eight different chemicals, each with a specific purpose. These range from tissue degeneration and breathing difficulties, to making the sting more painful and even attracting other hornets to the victim. Their venom contains a neurotoxin called mandaratoxin (MDTX), a single-chain polypeptide with a molecular weight of approximately 20,000 amu, which can be lethal even to people who are not allergic if the dose is sufficient. Being stung by one according to some accounts feels a lot like having a hot nail hammered into you!!

The Japanese giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia japonica) images (10)is a subspecies of the Asian giant hornet (V. mandarinia). It is a large insect and adults can be more than 4 cm (1.6 in) long, with a wingspan greater than 6 cm (2.4 in). It has a large yellow head with large eyes, and a dark brown thorax with an abdomen banded in brown and yellow.  They are nicknamed as “Yak killers” precisely because they’re capable of doing it! The Japanese Asian Hornet is the ultimate killer insect of Japan, responsible for 20 to 40 human deaths each year. As was reported by Japan Today on 27th September, 2010; 8 policemen were attacked by these hornets in a park while they were on duty.

The prime food of the Asian giant hornet is bees!! They love to feast on bees and other pollinators. The attack is carried out in a wonderful manner – two or three soldier hornets cautiously approach an identified nest while giving off pheromones. Pheromones attract the other hornets from the nest and together they attack the bee colony. Such synchronized attacks can completely devastate a honey bee colony as the bees stand no chance against these venomous creatures. Asian giant hornets in spite of being bee attackers never feed on them. Fact remains that they cannot digest solid protein. They never can feed on their prey – instead they attack large insects, chew on them and feed them to their larvae. The adult soldiers feed on an amino acid mixture that is secreted by the larvae. This clear liquid is the diet for these humongous hornets. Vespa Amino acid is strong in nutrients which help in keeping up the required nourishment for these large sized bugs. The saliva produced by the larvae of the Asian Giant Hornet is said to give them their renowned energy and stamina when consumed by the adult hornets on a regular basis. When chasing their prey, they have been reported travelling distances of up to 60 miles, at a top speed of 25 mph.

Interesting facts about these hornets:

  • Asian Killer Hornets are five times the size of European Honey Bees!

 

  • A single Asian hornet is capable of killing 40 honey bees within a minute!

 

  • 30 Asian giant hornets destroying the hives of 30k bees within 3 hrs time!

In the recent times the Asian giant hornet is said to have made its way to Britain where it is threatening the population of the European honey bees as these honey bees don’t stand a chance against the deadly hornets. Considering that the prime victims of these hornet attacks are our most important pollinators i.e. bees, the mayhem that they cause needs to be controlled!

C Tech Corporation has with the aid of green technology and great vision, designed the product Termirepel™ that can aid in the protection of honey bees from these vicious hornets. Termirepel ™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous insect and pest aversive. Basically designed to combat termites, it works effectively against a multitude of other insects including wasps and hornets.

Termirepel™ works by the mechanism of repellence by virtue of which it does not allow the insect/pest to come near the application and thus it negates the possibility of an infestation. Moreover it is available in the form of polymer compatible masterbatches as well as in lacquer form to be applied on wood and other furniture. Thus it is easy to apply and safe to use. Also since it is non-toxic it will not cause any harm to the non-target species like bees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aphids threaten crops!

1 Aphids, also known as plant lice, are diminutive, soft bodied, pear shaped insects which feed on plants, typically during the spring and summer seasons. Aphids are amongst the most common type of garden pests and are commonly green in color, though they can also found in pink, brown, yellow and black. There are over 200 species of aphid s, some of which will only feed on specific types of plants, while the majorities are content to eat a myriad of different plants. Aphids are capable of asexual reproduction and can spawn throughout most of the year, sometimes producing nearly 100 young per aphid in the course of just one week. Because reproduction occurs so rapidly, what starts out as a small aphid problem in a garden, farm or greenhouse can quickly become an infestation without adequate intervention.

Aphids are mostly less than 1/4 in. (6 mm) long. Some are wingless; others have two pairs of transparent or colored wings, the front pair longer than the hind pair. In typical aphids (family Aphididae), two tubes called cornicles project from the rear of the abdomen and exude protective substances. Aphids feed by inserting their beaks and sucking sap from stems, leaves, or roots.

downloadMany kinds of aphids secrete a sweet substance called honeydew, prized as food by ants, flies, and bees. This substance consists of partially digested, highly concentrated plant sap and other wastes, and is excreted often in copious amounts. Certain aphid species have a symbiotic relationship with various species of ants that resembles the relationship of domestic cattle to humans; hence the name “ant cows” for aphids. The ants tend the aphids, transporting them to their food plants at the appropriate stages of the aphids’ life cycle and sheltering the aphid eggs in their nests during the winter. The aphids, in turn, provide honeydew for the ants.

download (2)Damaging aphid populations may develop over a span of several years. Generally medium to low annual rainfall zones are at a greater risk than high annual rainfall zones. Although aphids usually arrive earlier in high rainfall zones, their populations are often kept at relatively low numbers. This is believed to be due to mortalities caused by a combination of strong winds and rain, high natural enemy numbers such as parasites, and fungi, which thrive in high humidity. Direct feeding damage, occurs when colonies of 30 or more aphids develop on individual growing tips.

The degree of damage depends on the varietal susceptibility, the growth stage of the crop, the percentage of plants infested, the number of aphids per growing tip, and the duration of the infestation. Feeding damage often has no obvious signs or symptoms, although heavily infested plants may be covered in black sooty moulds, which live on the sugary honeydew excreted by aphids, and flowers may be aborted. Other signs of damage include down curled leaves and wilting. The damage causes yield and quality losses, by reducing seed size and weight and numbers of pods per plant.

download (1)The damage done by aphids is due to a number of causes, including loss of sap, clogging of leaf surfaces with honeydew, and growth of molds and fungi on the honeydew. Leaf curl, a common symptom of aphid infestation, occurs when a colony attacks the underside of a leaf, causing its desiccation. The downward curl provides protection for the colony, but the leaf becomes useless to the plant. Some species also transmit viral diseases of plants. Among the aphids causing serious damage to food crops are the grain, cabbage, corn root, apple, woolly apple, and hickory aphids and the alder and beech tree blights. Direct damage caused by aphids feeding can cause yield losses of more than 50% in susceptible Lupin varieties. Yellow lupins are the most prone to aphid colonization and occasionally feeding damage may be so bad that crops fail to yield.

Let us take a look at the below article:

Aphids damage early crops

06 Aug, 2013 05:00 AM

 

There has been significant aphid damage to early sown crops, particular in central NSW.

Pest Facts reported there were many accounts of damage in the Central Tablelands region around Mudgee, NSW.

The damage began in July once the resistance imparted by seed treatment wore off.

Oats have been one of the worst impacted crops.

Oat aphid, corn aphid and rose grain aphid favor barley, but are found in all cereal crops. Heavy infestations of these sap sucking insects cause the crop to turn yellow, be stunted and generally appear unthrifty.

All three aphids can damage crops by feeding on them and in some instances by spreading barley yellow dwarf virus.

 

The above article shows the extent of damage these creatures can cause. There have been various other articles published which illustrate the extent of damage caused by aphids. According to a recent study by researchers at Iowa State University aphids has become a threat to soybean in the recent years because they possess a unique ability to block the genetic defense response of soybeans and may open the door for other pests to do even more damage to the crops. Their research further made significant contribution as the scientist stated that Aphids emerged as a serious threat to Iowa soybeans around 2000. The insects are native to Asia and most likely came to the United States via  international travelers or plants brought into the country.  In the years since, aphids have caused soybean farmers major headaches, reducing yields in affected fields by up to 40 percent, a scientist said.

These creatures thus cause a lot of damage in the agricultural sector. Also they invite more pests like the ants to the plants further endangering them. Conventional methods used to combat them include the use of toxic pesticides which are extremely hazardous to the environment. New methods need to be developed to do away with aphids for good. The method used should be 100% effective and should not endanger the environment in any way whatsoever.

Termirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous insect and pest repellant. It can be best described as a termite aversive. It is effective against a multitude of other insects and pests like weevils, beetles, thirps, bugs, aphids etc. It works on the mechanism of repellence and therefore does not kill the target as well as non-target species. Being non-toxic, it does not harm the soil and environment. Termirepel™ can be added to a thin agricultural film to protect plants and crops from insects like aphids. It can also be incorporated in irrigation pipes to ward of pests.

 

 

Termirepel™ in agricultural films: A solution to all our pest problems

a2Agriculture is still the means of livelihood for a vast section of human population all over the world. Inspite of the tremendous progress that has been made in this sector, it continues to be riddled with problems pertaining to pests. Pests are the nemesis of the agricultural sector. Every year millions of tons of crops are being damaged owing to pest damage. Currently 10-16% of global crop production is lost to pests. Crop pests include fungi, bacteria, viruses, insects, nematodes, viroids and oomycetes. The diversity of crop pests continues to expand and new strains are continually evolving. Losses of major crops to fungi, and fungi-like microorganisms, amount to enough to feed nearly nine percent of today’s global population.

Insects are responsible for two major kinds of damaged2to growing crops. First is direct injury done to the plant by the feeding insect, which eats leaves or burrows in stems, fruit, or roots. There are hundreds of pest species of this type, both in larvae and adults, among orthopterans, homopterans, heteropterans, coleopterans, lepidopterans, and dipterans. The second type is indirect damage in which the insect itself does little or no harm but transmits a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection into a crop. Examples include the viral diseases of sugar beets and potatoes, carried from plant to plant by aphids.

dCrops and agricultural produce are susceptible to damage by insects and pests at each stage from pre-harvest to post harvest level. Post harvest damage recorded in Asia alone is approximately 6%. Every year millions of dollars worth food grains are lost to pests! Furthermore according to survey by World Food Program there are 842 million undernourished people in the world today. That means one in eight people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. In such circumstances, such blatant wastage of food should be avoided at all costs. This is uninvited and unwanted charity!

bIn our efforts to stem the damage to agricultural produce owing to pests, we have taken refuge in the use of toxic pesticides. Although this has helped stem the damage to a considerable extent, they are not always effective. What they do simultaneously is irrevocable damage to our natural environment, having a negative effect on all its components. Toxic pesticides used rampantly in the agricultural sector worldwide contain extremely toxic potential carcinogens which are harmful to humans as well as to beneficial insect species like bees. Neonicotinoid which is principal components of numerous popular pesticides has been proved to be the sole cause of the Colony Collapse Disorder syndrome! It’s estimated that over the past five years, some 30 percent of bees in the United States have either disappeared or failed to survive to pollinate blossoms in the spring. That’s about 50% more than the rate expected. The problem is direr in some other countries. In Spain, recent data indicate a loss close to 80% of beehives.

The use of these toxic pesticides needs to be discouraged for the sake of the greater good. But at the same time crops need to be protected from the onslaught of vicious pests.

The use of agricultural films as a means to safeguard crops from pests has been explored since the past some years. Agricultural films are basically low weight LDPE or PE plastic films. Mulches, silage bags are just varied forms of a basic agricultural film. According to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research “Agricultural Films (LDPE, LLDPE, HDPE, EVA/EBA, Reclaims and Others) Market for Greenhouse, Mulching and Silage Applications Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2013 – 2019,” the global agricultural film market was valued at USD 5.87 billion in 2012 and is expected to reach USD 9.66 billion by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 7.6% from 2013 to 2019. In terms of volume, the global demand was 4,410.3 kilo tons in 2012 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.7% from 2013 to 2019.” Thus we can see that agricultural film usage is growing at a fast rate.

 

Agricultural films are being used increasingly in a bid to preserve and nurture plant health by preventing water loss, UV stabilization to cool soil and prevent insect attack, etc. But after using agricultural film too, the plants can still be susceptible to pests. This is so as these agricultural films are usually made of plastics like Polyethylene (PE), LDPE, etc; which can be easily damaged or chewed through by rodents and other pests. This would effectively leave the plants vulnerable to further attack by pests. Agricultural films by themselves are not insect and pest resistant. The agricultural film will be useful to the plant only if it could prevent pests from attacking it.

 

Thus there is a need for addition of some kind of additive in the agricultural film so as to make it effective against insects and pests. Termirepel™ a product by C Tech Corporation is a non-toxic, non-hazardous termite and insect aversive. It is available in the form of a polymer compatible masterbatch and thus can be incorporated in the agricultural film during the manufacturing process itself. It is an inert compound and highly stable at high extrusion temperatures. Also it is stable within the polymer matrix and will not leach out in the environment. It is developed keeping the safety of the environment in mind and is therefore eco-friendly. Termirepel™ works on the mechanism of repellence whereby it acts on different levels ensuring that the target species is repelled away from the application. It does not kill and is therefore not life-threatening to the target as well as non-target species.

Termirepel™ is the right choice in our quest for alternative methods to protect crops from pest and in turn save agriculture!

 

 

 

Termite damage!

Termites though extremely small and tiny creatures have managed to stir us imageshumans 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.

Termite swarm season will arrive with warmer weather

RUTH CORRELLMAR 26, 2014

 Subterranean termites are the most destructive wood-feeding insect in Tennessee, and even though they do their part to recycle dead and fallen trees back into the soil, termites can also attack the wood, paper and other wood scrap sources around a home, according to University of Tennessee entomologist, Dr. Karen Vail.

The National Pest Management Association estimates that it costs the U.S. about $5 billion per year to repair and treat damage caused by these insects.

Dr. Vail says that termite signs should be easy to spot. “The termite swarm season will be starting shortly. Winged termites will fly, drop to the ground, drop their wings and search for a moist, protected area to mate and start their colony. In a home, the swarmers, or a pile of their wings, are often found on the window sill.”

Winged termites can be distinguished from winged ants fairly easily. Termite wings images (3)are nearly equal in size and shape, but the ant’s front wings are larger than the hind wings. Winged termites have straight antennae and the ants are elbowed. The termite thorax is broadly attached to the abdomen, but in the ant, the waist is pinched. In Tennessee, termite swarmers are typically dark brown to black.
Termite workers on the other hand are white, soft-bodied wingless insects that travel above ground in mud tubes that are as least as wide as a pencil. It is recommended to search your basement, crawlspace or foundation walls and look for these tubes.

When termites damage wood, they eat the softer wood and leave behind the denser wood giving the wood a layered effect. Mud will probably be present in the layers. Termite-damaged wood will be soft and allow a screwdriver to easily penetrate. Puckered paint may indicate termites are feeding below the surface.

If you do discover termites, it’s definitely time to call a pest management professional. Suggestions for choosing a pest management firm and termite control strategy can be found in the UT Extension publication Subterranean Termite Control. 

Dr. Vail reminds consumers not to be pressured into signing a contract with a pest control agency immediately. Termite damage occurs slowly. The amount of damage caused by taking an additional day, week, or month to make an informed decision is negligible.
Many structures were pretreated with a soil termiticide before the house was built and, if properly done, treatment should provide at least 5 years of protection. At other homes, a professionally installed and maintained termite baiting system may detect and treat termites. However, if wood or wood scraps were buried in the backfill, or under porches or steps, or if spreader boards or grade stakes were not removed before the concrete set, then termite food was left in place. Construction site preparation, installation and cleanup determine some of a structure’s susceptibility to subterranean termites.

The following suggestions can be followed to help make a home less conducive to subterranean termite invasion:

  • Reduce the amount of cellulose around the structure. Keep a 12- to 18-inch bare zone next to the foundation and use inorganic mulches (pea gravel or river stone) instead of plant-based ones “near” the foundation. Replace wooden landscape timbers with those made of other materials such as concrete or vinyl. Don’t stack firewood against the house. Keep tree roots from getting close to the foundation.
  • Reduce moisture sources around the home or building. Ensure the irrigation system is working properly. Termites love moisture to make mud tubes and for mating. Repair outdoor water faucet leaks quickly. Keep crawlspaces dry by either using a plastic cover with ventilation or by using an encapsulation system. The finished grade outside the house should slope away from the house to prevent water from collecting under the house. 

Termites can be controlled but total elimination is less certain. The homeowner should be vigilant at all times.

Thus we can see the extent of damage termites have caused and will continue to cause in the long run. This is an extremely unsettling revelation and needs immediate attention.

New methods need to be devised to exterminate this ever- hanging threat to our precious wooden structures. The time has come for going the unconventional way here. 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. Termirepel™ is the one and only effective solution to our termite woes!