Colorado potato beetles at large!!

Haldane discussed the prevalence of stars and beetles in his book “What is life?” published in the 1940s;

_69607665_thinkstock106564984“The Creator would appear as endowed with a passion for stars, on the one hand, and for beetles on the other, for the simple reason that there are nearly 300,000 species of beetle known, and perhaps more, as compared with somewhat less than 9,000 species of birds and a little over 10,000 species of mammals. Beetles are actually more numerous than the species of any other insect order. That kind of thing is characteristic of nature.”

One among the 300,000 species is Colorado potato beetle. An adult beetle is around 10mm long and is orange or yellow with black or brown stripes. The beetle’s main food is potato leaves – a single larva can eat 40 sq cm of leaf per day.

Colorado_potato_beetle_lgThe pretty yellow-and-black-striped Colorado potato beetle is native to wild Solanaceous plants of the semi-arid western United States. Colorado beetles are a serious pest of potatoes.. Both adults and larvae feed on foliage and may skeletonize the crop. . The problem with it began when the beetle broadened its gustatory interests to include cultivated plants in the same family, such as potato, eggplant, and tomato.

Going through the life cycle of the Colorado potato beetle, in late summer, Colorado potato beetles fly to nearby wooded areas and overwinter beneath bark or other cover. In mid-spring, they emerge and walk until they find potatoes or another suitable host plant. After a little light feeding, mated females lay clusters of orange eggs on leaf undersides. The eggs hatch about two weeks later, and the larvae feed for a couple of weeks before entering their pupal stage. In cool weather the entire life cycle can take 45 days or more, but 30 days is more typical. This means that a second generation can emerge at the perfect time to sabotage midseason potatoes.

kg26-colorado-potato-beetle-01_lgColorado potato beetle causes heavy monetary damages. The article named “Last Meal for Colorado potato  beetle?” in USA Agriculture department gives the estimate of the economic loss due to the species, “The pest’s larvae devour the leaves of eggplant, tomato and potato plants, causing $150 million annually in crop losses and chemical control expenses”

The problem of Colorado potato beetle is mentioned in yet another article,

Some Growers Say Potato Beetle Becoming Intractable Problem

Anecdotal evidence suggests the Colorado potato beetle has increased its range in Estonia, and some farmers say the situation is dire, especially as the state declassified the colorful bug as a dangerous pest in 2011.

With potato fields flowering, ETV reported on one Saaremaa island field where the beetle had not been seen before, but which is experiencing a major infestation.

Officially, the farmers are advised to manually pluck the larvae and repeat every day, and only resort to pesticides for larger infestations.

There are some areas of Saaremaa where the beetle is well-established and can’t 220px-Potato_beetle_larvaeapparently be eradicated, farmers said.

Aadu Grepp, one farmer, said that beetles could be found on every fourth or fifth stalk in his fields.

“You have to spray with some toxin at the right time to get rid of it. In a couple days, it will eat a plant, leaving just a stalk.” He said it had been that bad for two or three years. “The bug hatches from the soil and and there’s nothing to do, the only cure is chemicals. There’s so many and it will return in a week or so.”

Grepp sprays his fields several times a year and said some Leisi growers had stopped planting potatoes.

The areas on Saaremaa affected tend to be on the coasts, as the adult beetle gets an assist from the wind. The biggest potato grower on the island, Guido Lindmäe, who has 22 hectares in the interior, says he yet to see a live beetle.

Opinions vary on whether the mainland is worse off. The Crop Research Institute’s Luule Tartlan says it is worse, while the Agricultural Board says that the potato beetle has ceased to be considered a dangerous pest as of 2011.

220px-Kartoffelkaefer_fg01eThe Colorado potato beetle have shifted from its original wild hosts in southwestern North America, it has spread throughout the rest of the continent and has invaded Europe and Asia. Currently its distribution covers approximately 14 million km2 around the world. It has also started appearing in central Asia, western China and Iran. They have started appearing in new regions because of heavy export from the infected area.

Insecticides are currently the main method of beetle control on commercial 78farms.Colorado potato beetle has a legendary ability to develop resistance to a wide range of pesticides used for its control. Plants in the family Solanaceae, which are natural food sources for this insect, have high concentrations of rather toxic glycoalkaloids in their foliage. These toxins protect them from a wide range of herbivores. However, the Colorado potato beetles evolved an ability to overcome toxic defenses of its hosts. Apparently, this ability also allows them to adapt to a wide range of human-made poisons. Also, high beetle fecundity increases the probability that one of the numerous offspring mutates, just as buying 800 lottery tickets increases probability of getting a winning one compared to buying 8 lottery tickets.

Resistance mechanisms in the Colorado potato beetle are highly diverse even within a relatively narrow geographical area. Furthermore, the beetles show cross-resistance to organophosphates and carbamates, and multiple resistance to organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethroids.

The immune powers of Colorado potato beetle have forced humans to look for solutions above the hazardous insecticides. C Tech Corporation provides a solution Termirepel™ which is very effective, long lasting and Green. The most important unique quality of the product is that it is non-toxic, non-hazardous and environment friendly. Termirepel
™ helps keep termites, ants and 500 other species at bay and protects the application. They can be incorporated in agricultural films, mulches and irrigation pipes to protect the crops from the vicious pests. The product is available in the form masterbatch as well as liquid solution and is compatible with most the base polymers. The most important quality of the product is that it does not kill the target species but repels them.

Pests threatening global food Security!!

The dark cloud of pests looming over the agriculture sector is spreading and images (1)increasing at an alarming rate! Pests, considered as an age old enemy of agriculture, continue to thwart the sector by destroying the crops. Though tiny, they are capable of large scale destruction. They appear in large numbers, attack the vegetation and many times destroy the entire field or the produce. On average the pests are known to cause 10-16% agricultural produce loss. Toxic and hazardous pesticides of worth million dollars are used to curb this pest problem to little effect.

Moreover, the pests have now started moving to regions, previously unsuitable for their existence, because of global warming. It has been reported that pests are imagesspreading towards the North and South Poles at a rate of nearly 3 km a year! This poses a great threat to global food security. With the increasing population, the demand for the food supply is increasing rapidly. In the midst of such situation, the report that the pests are spreading across the globe is surely alarming. The threat posed by these vile pests could lead towards a chaotic situation endangering the global food security. Let’s take a look at the following article which reports the spread of the pests;

Spread of crop pests threatens global food security as Earth warms

A new study has revealed that global warming is resulting in the spread of crop pests towards the North and South Poles at a rate of nearly 3 km a year.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change and carried out by researchers at the University of Exeter and the University of Oxford, shows a strong relationship between increased global temperatures over the past 50 years and expansion in the range of crop pests. 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. The study suggests that these figures will increase further if global temperatures continue to rise as predicted.

The spread of pests is caused by both human activities and natural processes but is thought to be primarily the result of international freight transportation. The study suggests that the warming climate is allowing pests to become established in previously unsuitable regions. For example, warming generally stimulates insect herbivory at higher latitudes as seen in outbreaks of the Mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) that has destroyed large areas of pine forest in the US Pacific Northwest. In addition, the rice blast fungus which is present in over 80 countries, and has a dramatic effect both on the agricultural economy and ecosystem health, has now moved to wheat. Considered a new disease, wheat blast is sharply reducing wheat yields in Brazil.  

Dr Dan Bebber from the University of Exeter said: “If crop pests continue to march polewards as the Earth warms the combined effects of a growing world population and the increased loss of crops to pests will pose a serious threat to global food security.”

Professor Sarah Gurr from the University of Exeter (previously at the University of Oxford) said: “Renewed efforts are required to monitor the spread of crop pests and to control their movement from region to region if we are to halt the relentless destruction of crops across the world in the face of climate change.”

The study used published observations of the distribution of 612 crop pests collected over the past 50 years. It revealed that the movement of pests north and south towards the poles, and into new previously un-colonised regions, corresponds to increased temperatures during that period.  

The study was funded by the HSBC Climate Partnership and Earthwatch.

Date: 1 September 2013

The above article presents a grave picture of the growing pest problem in the agriculture sector. We cannot stop these pests from spreading across the world, but we can protect our crops from their wrath. We need to adopt an environment friendly full proof solution to tackle the pest problem. Termirepel™, a product of C Tech Corporation is an ideal solution to combat the pest problem as it is extremely low toxic in nature, works effectively and efficiently against the pests and have very low environmental implications. It works on the mechanism of repellence and does not harm target or non-target species. In masterbatch form it can be incorporated in agriculture films, mulches, tarpaulins to protect the crops from the vile pests. It can also be incorporated in storage bags to protect the produce. In coating form in can be coated near the storage areas to make them pests free. It is high time that we adopt the use of safe measures to fight the problem of pests.

 

Gall wasps destroying trees…

downloadAnother teeny tinny insect is here to cause unprecedented and huge damage to our trees and plants. The gall wasps, also called gallflies, are a family (Cynipidae). Their common name comes from the galls they induce on plants for larval development. About 1300 species of this generally very small creature (1-8 mm) are known worldwide, with about 360 species of 36 different genera in Europe and some 800 species in North America.

download (1)The larvae of most gall wasps develop in characteristic plant galls they induce themselves, but many species are also inquilines of other gall wasps. The plant galls mostly develop directly after the female insect lays the eggs. The inducement for the gall formation is largely unknown; discussion speculates as to chemical, mechanical, and viral triggers. The hatching larvae nourish themselves with the nutritive tissue of the galls, in which they are otherwise well-protected from external environmental effects. The host plants and the size and shape of the galls are specific to the majority of gall wasps, whereas about 70% of the known species live in various types of oak trees. One can find galls on nearly all parts of such trees, some on the leaves, the buds, the branches, and the roots. Other species of gall wasps live in eucalyptus treesrose bushes or maple trees, as well as many herbs. Frequently, the determination of the species is much easier through observation of the galls produced rather than the insect itself.

gall provides the developing gall wasp with a safe refuge for the most vulnerable stage of its life cycle, but many other wasps have found a way to penetrate this defense and parasitize the larvae within. Some of these parasitoids use their long, hardened egg-laying tube (ovipositor) to bore into the gall and lay an egg on the helpless gall maker.

imagesThe galls cause the upper surface of the leaf to lighten in color and form a kind of blister that is often ringed with a yellow halo. Severe infestations will cause the leaf tips to turn brown. Heavily damaged leaves may curl and fall from the tree and the entire crown of the tree may be affected. Each gall contains a single wasp larva that feeds on the inner lining of the gall. The galls drop to the ground when they have matured. The activity of the larva inside the gall actually makes the gall jump around on the ground after they have fallen from the tree. The insect overwinters inside the gall. In the spring, the females emerge and lay their eggs in newly opened leaf buds. The galls form in response to chemicals in the larva’s saliva.

Gall makers must attack the plant at a very precise time if normal plant tissue is to be successfully stimulated to form a gall. It has been shown that trees whose buds open earlier than nearby trees have larger numbers of these galls than trees whose buds opened later.

Let us look at the below news article demonstrating the effects of gall wasps damage;

 

Tiny insect menace chokes trees across Cape Cod

20 Oct, 2013

DENNIS, Mass. — A minuscule menace is buried in the gnarled, deformed limbs of black oak trees across Cape Cod, slowly choking them to death.

Its common name — the crypt gall wasp — is like something out of a horror movie, but for property owners, the evil it wreaks is all too real.

Hordes of the tiny wasps deposit their eggs in the trees’ new spring growth. The larvae grow inside the wood and form swelled chambers known as galls.

A year later, the adult wasps — measuring only 5 millimeters — emerge through pinprick holes in the wood and repeat the cycle over again, cutting off the system that distributes nutrients throughout the tree.

Starved of food, twig growth slows, leaves turn brown and eventually, if the infestation continues unabated, the tree may die.

Even though much is known about the tree-killing culprit, much is still a mystery, including whether it is a native or wash-ashore.

“So little is known about the life cycle,” Russ Norton, educator in horticulture at the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, said.

Norton, who is monitoring a research site in Nickerson State Park in Brewster, and other researchers are working to fill in those gaps.

Recently, workers with Arborjet, a Woburn company that tests and sells tree injection systems and insecticides, took a stand against the crypt gall wasp in Dennis Village Cemetery, a setting seemingly made for the fight against the pernicious pest with the deathly name.

Arborjet is working with University of Massachusetts-Amherst professor of entomology Joseph Elkinton and one of his graduate students to study the best ways to deliver insecticide that will stop the wasps in their tracks.

Researchers are not even convinced the species has been correctly identified, Elkinton and Arborjet officials said.

“We’re starting from square one with this insect,” Elkinton said.

Widespread damage from the wasp became apparent on Martha’s Vineyard a couple of years ago, he said.

But, while a similar infestation on Long Island crashed after only three years, the outbreak on the Vineyard has lasted longer.

On Cape Cod, property owners and arborists started seeing widespread damage in 2012.

“You probably don’t even see the symptoms for two years,” Peter Wild, CEO and founder of Arborjet, said.

At the Dennis Village Cemetery, Arborjet’s Don Grosman demonstrated how the injection systems use the tree’s vascular system to transport chemicals to fight the wasps, Grosman said.

A small black plug called an arborplug is inserted into holes drilled into the trunk, he said.

A needle attached to a pressurized reservoir is then connected to the plug, forcing the chemicals into the tree’s active tissue.

The company is testing two solutions: TREE-age, which relies on emamectin benzoate, a pesticide that causes insect paralysis, and IMA-jet, based on imidacloprid, a pesticide derived from synthetic nicotine, according to the National Pesticide Information Center, a collaboration of the University of Oregon and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Unlike spraying or other methods, injecting the chemicals keeps them contained within the tree and out of the surrounding environment, Grosman said.

“We pride ourself in that we put everything into the tree,” he said.

Even so, only a small amount of each product is required, he said.

For a tree with a 20-inch diameter, only 8 grams of the solution is used, Grosman said.

Although work in Hawaii on a similar infestation in banyan trees has shown that the method works, the exact effects on the crypt gall wasps are not yet clear, Grosman said.

About 50 trees in Barnstable, West Harwich and Dennis were injected with the two chemicals. An additional 20 trees are being monitored as controls.

The effect on different levels of infestation is being studied, Grosman said.

The trees will be checked over several years to see how long the chemicals keep the wasps at bay.

So far, there are pockets of the infestation in black oaks across the Cape, he said.

“It’s widespread but at the same time it’s somewhat sporadic,” he said.

This could be because of changes in the weather such as drought or it could be because of other factors, such as disease or the amount of salt used on nearby roadways, Grosman said.

At the cemetery, digging for graves could even be a factor, he said.

Natural conditions could lead to a collapse in the wasp population, such as what happened in Long Island, he said.

Infestations of exotic species are the cost of climate change and global trade, Wild said.

Still, like so much else with the crypt gall wasp, there is much more to be learned, both men said.

Education is the first step, Wild said. “Usually by the time you call the arborist, it’s time to cut the tree down,” he said.

Once a gall begins to develop, it is almost impossible to stop or reverse its development. Unless registered insecticides can be applied when gall wasps are flying, they offer little or no effective measure of control. Lack of serious plant damage from leaf galls and the difficulty in proper timing of insecticide applications pose a strong argument against the use of insecticides to reduce galls on oak.

Moreover chemical control is seldom suggested for management of leaf galls on oak. Cultural methods of control may be effective in reducing the impact of these insects. Some fallen leaves may harbor various life stages of gall-producing pests. Therefore, it may be useful to collect and destroy all infested leaves. Some of these pests overwinter in twigs and branches of oak. Where such woody galls are detected, prune and destroy the infested plant material when the galls are small and have just started to develop. But this isn’t a 100 percent effective treatment and more treatment options need to be explored.

 C Tech Corporation can offer a solution in the form of their non-toxic, non-hazardous product Termirepel™. Termirepel™ is an eco-friendly insect aversive. It is available in the form of polymer masterbatches as well as lacquer form which can be coated on the trees or diluted and sprayed on them.

 

 

Wood Borers: Boring their way into our home

There was Bronze Age, Copper Age, Iron Age and many other eras during which images (12)the use of one material was prominent. After a particular era the importance of the precious material has toned down. Wood however is the only material which still has its important status since time immemorial. Although the wood has been replaced by metals, polymer, ceramic and other materials in many applications, wooden artifacts are still considered of great value. We still find people who fill their beloved homes with wooden furniture to make it beautiful and more authentic.

Wood is one of the oldest friends of man and is always found in proximity to download (2)them in the form of bed, dinner table, chairs, grandfather’s clock, grandpa’s arm chair and many more. Loving and decorating our homes with wooden furniture is fine but protecting them from some of the vile species is of utmost importance. Species which were meant to help environment by giving a hand in biodegradation of wood have actually now become a big menace. Species like termites, carpenter ants, etc. attack healthy wood and have the capability to turn them into dust. Apart from termites and carpenter ants, we also have wood boring beetles that vilify the wood.

About three hundred different species of wood-boring beetles are known to occur in our domestic woodwork indoors, but of these only seven are of frequent occurrence, and it is to the larval or grub stage that we apply the description images (11)‘woodworm’. Woodboring beetles are commonly detected a few years after new construction. There are three groups of wood-boring beetles—powderpost, deathwatch, and false powderpost.

Many different types of wood structures and commodities have been damaged by these wood borers. Timber, planks, musical instruments, and wood carvings are the examples of the commodities damaged.

The wood borers especially powder post beetles do significant damage to wooden commodities, much more than that done by carpenter ants. The damage is done by the larvae that feed and reduce the wood to a fine powder or mass of small pellets and create narrow, meandering tunnels in the wood.

After the adult female emerges, she seeks other open-grained wood and deposits images (8)an egg in a pore. After hatching, the larvae eat their way into the wood, completing the cycle in about one year. This process may be repeated on the same piece of wood one quarter to one half inch from the emergence of the hole. Wood finishes: varnish, paint and waxes prevent an infestation. However, the insects already inside the wood will continue to thrive and eventually will emerge through the treated surface.

images (4)The lumber supply may have contained wood infected with beetle eggs or larvae, and since beetle life cycles can be one or more years, several years may pass before the presence of beetles becomes noticeable. In many cases, the beetles will be of a type that only attacks living wood, and thus incapable of “infesting” any other pieces of wood, or doing any further damage.

There are several indicators that wood-boring beetles are present. Probably the images (5)most common sign of a wood-boring beetle infestation is the presence of holes chewed by the adult beetles upon emergence. Another indicator is a powdery material called frass that beetles often produce while feeding. Frass is plant fragments made by a wood-boring insect; it is usually mixed with excrement. The beetles push the frass from the holes they have made in the infested wood. This frass usually gets piled below the holes or in cracks in structures. The consistency of the frass ranges from very fine to coarse, depending on the species.

Wood_Destroying_InsectsSometimes an infestation is indicated by the presence of wood-boring beetle adults. Adult beetles that emerge in confined structures are attracted to lights or windows and may accumulate at these locations.

Other signs of an infestation include stained wood or a blistering appearance on the wood surface caused by larvae tunneling just below the surface. Less commonly, immature beetles produce audible rasping or ticking sounds while chewing on the wood. These chewing sounds are most often heard during quiet times at night.

To stop this night time chirping steps have to be taken at root level i.e. the lumber from which the wooden commodities are made should be protected from these borers. To curb this problem of the wood borer, a unique solution in contrast to the typical hazardous, non-effective has to be adopted. And there is a solution,
a Green solution provided by C Tech Corporation: TERMIREPEL™. Termirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous and environment friendly product, with a high efficacy to repel insects like wood borers from the wood. Termirepel™ is a multitasking product; along with wood borer it protects the wood from vicious termites, notorious carpenter ants and other insects. Termirepel™ in solution form can be injected at high pressure in the lumber so as to prevent the infestation. It is also available in lacquer form which can be applied on the furniture, patios, floor as coating so as to prevent further infestation.

Webworm spinning a deadly web around your trees…

Webworms are the caterpillar form of a small white moth. The moths fly around during the summer laying their eggs on the underside of tree leaves. The moths seem to prefer alder, willow, cottonwood, apple, pear, peach, pecan, walnut, elm, and maples, but will eat a very large variety of trees and shrubs.

7The fall webworm, Hyphantria cunea, is a moth in the family Arctiidae known principally for its larval stage, which creates the characteristic webbed nests on the tree limbs of a wide variety of hardwoods in the late summer and fall. The moth is native to North America, ranging from Canada to Mexico, and is one of the few insect pests introduced from North America into other continents all over the world. It now has occupied probably its entire range in Europe from France to the Caspian Sea in the east. It has also penetrated into Central Asia. It has spread into China, southern Mongolia, Korea and southern Primorsky Krai of Russia and is now considered holarctic in distribution.

One or two generations of the pest occur in a year. However, in Tennessee several generations may occur in a year. This pest tends to go through periodic population explosions. Outbreaks every four to seven years may last for two to three years.

4The adult moth lays her eggs on the underside of leaves in ‘hair’-covered clusters of a few hundred. Eggs hatch in about a week. The caterpillars are highly variable in coloration, ranging from a pale yellow, to dark grey, with yellow spots and long and short bristle. The maximum length is 35 mm. Webs are progressively enlarged, and much messier looking than those of other caterpillars. Larvae feed inside the tents until the late instars. Very young larvae feed only on the upper surfaces of leaves. Later, they consume whole leaves. The larval stage lasts about four to six week. The larval stage of this pest skeletonizes and consumes leaves inside the protection of a tent-like web that they enlarge as they require additional food and grow. On shade trees webs usually occur on occasional branches. The fall webworm feeds on just about any type of deciduous tree. It feeds on almost 90 species of deciduous trees commonly attacking hickory, walnut, birch, cherry, and crabapple wherein leaves are chewed; in result the branches or the entire tree may become defoliated.

The fall webworm is a widely distributed native pest of shade trees and shrubs and appears from late summer through early fall. This species acts similarly to the eastern tent caterpillar, but the fall webworm constructs its nest over the end of the branch rather than at tree crotches. The large conspicuous webs contain caterpillars, dead partially eaten leaves, and fecal droppings.

imagesThis pest usually eats leaves late in the season and the nests are generally concentrated to limited areas. Although trees experience heavy damage from webworms in the fall, it is the summer defoliations that cause the most stress on the trees. Summertime is when pecan trees are actively developing their nut crop and storing food for the winter in their roots. By the time defoliations occur in the fall, the impact to the tree is minimized because it has stored its winter food and produced its pecans. Fall webworms in South Texas prefer pecan trees to most other trees, but will munch on mulberry, hickory, oak, willow or redbud just as readily. The webs are made by groups of caterpillars hatched from the same egg mass. Webworm caterpillars and moths are active at night when most of their predators (paper wasps, hornets, and birds) are inactive. The caterpillars feed on leaf material and leave the stems and veins behind. Although these caterpillars are hairy, they do not sting; however, they can cause an irritating rash if their hairs come in contact with human skin.

Webworms enclose small branches and leaves in their light gray colored webs. Constant infestations of individual trees will cause limb and branch diebacks. There are several chemicals that help to control the webworms, but they may not be practical due to the problems related to application complications in larger trees.

A sure and effective way of combating fall webworms was devised by C Tech Corporation in the form of their product Termirepel™. Termirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous, environment friendly insect and pest aversive. Majorly targeted at curbing the termite menace, it is 100% effective against host of other insects and pests like webworms, beetles, etc. Termirepel™ is available in liquid concentrate form which can be diluted further and made into sprays that can replace conventional harmful insecticides. The spray can then be just sprayed on the trees or plants affected.

Termirepel™ is also available in the form of lacquer which can be applied on the trees and the surrounding areas. Termirepel™ is unique in its aspect that it works by the mechanism of repellence and not by killing. Thus, target as well as non-targeted beneficial species are not harmed but are merely kept away from the application.

USA invaded – by crazy ants!!

p5So it is proved! Humans are not the only species who can be attributed to being crazy at times. They share the title with a particular type of ants called “crazy ants”. Crazy ants called so because of their erratic behavior actually are ants that belong to the genus Paratrechina from the subfamily Formicinae. Over 150 species and subspecies are described, some of which occur on every continent (except Antarctica). They form large colonies in open soil or under rocks or other objects, or in rotten wood on the ground. Specifically, Paratrechina longicornis occurs around the world. It is also known as ‘Longhorn ants’. They do not bite or sting people. Longhorn crazy ants are able to reproduce with their siblings without any negative effects of inbreeding. This has allowed them to become one of the most widespread invasive ants in the tropics. The crazy ant is found in various parts of the world and is not native to the United States (Smith 1965). While found in tropical cities worldwide, it was thought to be of either Asian or African origin. In fact, Wetterer (2008) argues that Paratrechina longicornis is the most “broadly distributed of any ant species.” Colonies of crazy ants are moderate to very populous. This species is a pantropical tramp that is easily dispersed by human activity. However, while the term ‘crazy ant’ is officially identified with this species, there are other closely related ant species that are also called ‘crazy ants’.

p3There is another species of crazy ants called Nylanderia fulva. These are an invasive species of ants. They are known as Rasberry crazy ant or tawny crazy ant originally found in Houston, Texas. While this species is part of the Paratrechina or “crazy ant” complex (group named because of the ants’ random, nonlinear movements), the media and others in Texas are also calling it “Rasberry” after the exterminator Tom Rasberry, who first noticed the ants were a problem in 2002. A large infestation is currently present in at least 20 counties in Texas. The ants appear to prefer the warmth and moistness of the coast. The colonies have multiple queens. Nylanderia fulva appear to displace other ant species, including red imported fire ants  most likely due to exploitative and interference competition. The ants are not attracted to ordinary ant baits, are not controlled by over-the-counter pesticides, and are harder to fully exterminate than many other species because their colonies have multiple queens. Scientists have described the ants as having overrun Texas since the early 2000s.

The crazy ant has achieved pest statusimages across the United States. It has been found on top floors of large apartment buildings in New York, hotels and flats in Boston and in hotel kitchens in San Francisco, California. It can be a significant agricultural pest as it assists in the distribution and/or protection of phloem-feeding Hemiptera, such as mealybugs, scale insects, and plant aphids (Wetterer 2008). The crazy ant is an agricultural and household pest in most tropical and subtropical areas, and is a pervasive indoor pest in temperate areas. It has the ability to successfully survive in highly disturbed and artificial areas, including ships at sea. Since it can live indoors with humans, there is no limit to the latitude where it can exist!!

There is alarming news for the residents of the southeastern states of USA as was reported by Danielle Elliot of CBS News on 1st July, 2013. An astonishing numbers of crazy ants have been reported to be swarming towards their states. USA Today reported University of Texas research assistant Ed LeBrun saying these ants have since spread to about 50 counties across Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. They nest everywhere from crawl spaces and walls to electrical wires and small circuits. Researchers at Texas A&M University say they cause about $146.5 million in electrical damage each year. In a study published in April, researchers from Texas A&M University found that fire ants are able to fend off crazy ants in most situations. But that shifts when crazy ants are restricted to a low-sugar diet, as happens when fire ants consume most of the available food. When consuming a low-sugar diet, crazy ants become stronger and more aggressive, and able to defeat the fire ants. When UT researchers recently investigated two crazy ant invasion sites, they found the red ant population decimated — a sign that the crazy ant may quickly reign supreme in the southeastern region.

A very peculiar thing has been noted about these crazy ants. They have a penchant for electrical appliances. As Mary Beth Quirk of The Consumerist reported on 2nd July, 2013 these ants can make a meal of almost any electrical gadget from a cell phone to an air conditioner! They enter these gadgets and make them their home. They can chew on the internal wires thus causing a short circuit. If one gets electrocuted, its death releases a chemical on a cue to attack as they recognize a threat to the colony, said Roger Gold, an entomology professor at Texas A&M. “The other ants rush in. Before long, you have a wall of ants,” he said. Why they are attracted to electrical equipment is still a mystery.. But various theories have been postulated regarding this most credible ones being that they sense the magnetic field surrounding wires with electric current flowing through them. Or, they might prefer the heat byproduct of resistance in the wires. However, it could simply be they are searching for food or a nesting location that is easy to defend.

The Weekly World News on 9th June, 2013 reported that the crazy ants in Texas and Mississippi were destroying property and attacking humans!! The Crazy Ant Poison that U.S. Exterminators use only stops them for a day, and then a fresh horde shows up, bringing babies. Controlling them can cost millions of dollars.  And there’s no surefire way of controlling them. If 100,000 are killed by pesticides, billions more will follow.

The current method of controlling them involves the use of a toxic product called Fipronil. Fipronil is a broad spectrum insecticide that disrupts the insect’s central nervous system. Fipronil is a slow acting poison. Its wildlife impacts include:

1) Fipronil is highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates.

2) Fipronil is toxic to bees and should not be applied to vegetation when bees are foraging.

3) Fipronil has been found to be highly toxic to upland game birds.

Thus an alternative non-toxic and eco-friendly solution needs to be devised to combat this ever growing problem of crazy ants. Termirepel™ can provide us the much required ray of hope in this increasingly hopeless situation. Termirepel™ is a unique non-toxic and eco-friendly product which works by the mechanism of repellence and not killing. Also it ensures that the ant infestation will not recur.

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!