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News in the Entomology Program
The female squash bee rises from her nest at dawn, earlier than any honeybee or bumblebee buzzes awake. She leaves her young in a nest tunneled about a foot beneath the ground to attend to her daily tasks of sipping nectar and gathering pollen grains. She only has eyes for golden pumpkin and butternut squash blossoms flush with nectar reaching from sprawling, hairy plants.
Farmers in our region are under attack! The enemy: A tiny, smelly invader called the brown marmorated stink bug.
Experts say if it's not controlled soon, the pest could cause millions, if not billions, of dollars in damage to area crops.
The spotted wing drosophila is a new insect that enjoys fresh fruit as much as you do.
Amy Dreves is a research and extension entomologist at Oregon State University. She says the bug is a type of fruit fly that was discovered in California in 2008. Since then, it’s spread to nearly every state.
For the past five years or so, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB, Halyomorpha halys) has been a major concern for fruit growers in the Eastern U.S., particularly those in the Mid-Atlantic region. While it was first detected in the U.S. in the late 1990s, BMSB really began making headlines around 2008 when it devastated peach and apple orchards, causing as much as 80% or more fruit loss in some areas.
Effective snail and slug management calls for a combination of garden upkeep and trapping. As for the most commonly used homemade baits, however, put away the saltshakers and leave the beer in a cooler, said Robin Rosetta, an entomologist with the Oregon State University Extension Service.
"Table salt can dry up the mollusks but it also can build in the soil over time, damaging plants," she said. "Fermented sugar water and yeast is cheaper than beer-baited traps and just as functional for drowning slugs."
Responding to the sting of declining honeybee populations, Oregon State University entomologists and engineers are planning to track native bumblebees with tiny sensors. Many aspects of bumblebee behavior are unknown, but better understanding may lead to bee-friendly agricultural practices, says Sujaya Rao, an entomologist in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
Oregon State University hopes to aid research on the fruit-damaging spotted wing drosophila by providing online access to the fly's newly sequenced genome.
OSU anticipates that scientists will use its new SpottedWingFlyBase website to develop ways to combat the invasive pest. Since its launch in November, spottedwingflybase.oregonstate.edu has been used by researchers in dozens of countries, said Vaughn Walton, an entomologist with the OSU Extension Service.
A smelly invasive bug continues to spread across the United States, alarming both farmers and scientists.
The name of this insect is a mouthful: the brown marmorated stink bug. Native to East Asia, the insect is causing crop losses from coast to coast in America. Researchers are working on control measures, but some of those come with their own worries.
One way scientists are following the spread of the brown marmorated stink bug is by setting traps. There are four traps at the edge of a blueberry field at Oregon State University's North Willamette research farm.
A malodorous invasive bug has gone from a worry to a certifiable nuisance for some Northwest farmers and gardeners. The name of this insect is a mouthful: the brown marmorated stink bug.
Researchers say the population really seems to have taken off this year. With the approach of winter, these stink bugs are leaving the fields and may just crawl into your home.
Armyworms are on the march in Hermiston, with hundreds of thousands of the small caterpillars wriggling around lawns and homes across the city.
Though a fairly typical pest, the sheer number this fall is prompting dozens of calls to Oregon State University's Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center, which has caught the attention of entomologist specialist Silvia Rondon.
"They're all over the place," Rondon said. "That's really a nuisance. It's not fun to see hundreds of these by your door or porch."
In addition to stepping into leadership roles at family farms, more women are filling the ranks of agricultural researchers and agency managers.
Katy Coba, who was the first female wheat truck driver on the family farm near Pendleton, has been director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture for the past 10 years. Celia Gould holds that position in Idaho and Karen Ross is secretary of California’s Department of Food and Agriculture.
Two of Coba’s upper level staff members are women: Deputy Director Lisa Hanson and Stephanie Page, who is special assistant to the director.
Female researchers are deeply engaged in agricultural issues. At Oregon State University, weed scientist Carol Mallory-Smith ran the initial tests this spring that determined volunteer wheat plants found growing in an eastern Oregon field carried an unapproved “Roundup Ready” gene.
Also at OSU, entomologist Amy Dreves works to thwart the spotted wing drosophila, an invasive fruit fly that causes severe damage to ripening fruit and berries. Patty Skinkis, a viticulturist, is researching ways to increase wine grape yields without decreasing quality. Sujaya Rao, another entomologist, is involved in a project to learn more about the health of native pollinators by tracking bumblebees’ movements using tiny sensors. Many more women hold teaching positions on campus or work at OSU’s Food Innovation Center or other Extension Service programs.
Oregon State University is hot on the trail of improving the lot of honeybees, an interest triggered by declining populations of the insect vital to agriculture.
OSU has a new tool for the industry in the Pacific Northwest to reduce the impact of pesticides on bees.
A revised publication is available in the wake of an estimated loss of 50,000 bees in a Wilsonville parking lot in mid-2013. The Oregon Department of Agriculture confirmed that the deaths were related to an application of a pesticide to city trees to prevent aphids, a problem not linked to agriculture.
However, the episode has resulted in ODA slapping a six-month restriction on use of 18 insecticides containing dinotefuran.
An Oregon State University bee expert said that it is wrong to blame colony collapse disorder on neonicotinoid insecticides.
Ramesh Sagili, an assistant professor in the Department of Horticulture at OSU, said that exposure to neonicotinoids and other pesticides is just one of many factors contributing to the recent decline in bee populations.
As the worldwide population of honey bees continues to decline, the Oregon State University Extension Service and partners have updated a tool for Pacific Northwest growers and beekeepers to reduce the impacts of pesticides on bees.
The revision of OSU Extension's publication appears after an estimated 50,000 bumble bees died in a Wilsonville parking lot in June. The Oregon Department of Agriculture confirmed in a June 21 statement that the bee deaths were directly related to a pesticide application on linden trees conducted to control aphids. The episode prompted the ODA to issue a six-month restriction on 18 insecticides containing the active ingredient dinotefuran.
OSU researchers are investigating the effects of broad-spectrum neonicotinoids, such as dinotefuran, on native bees. The work is in progress, according to Ramesh Sagili, an OSU honeybee specialist.
A new insect to Oregon is affecting fruits and vegetables in Columbia County, and its numbers are growing.
After first being detected in Oregon in 2004, the exotic brown marmorated stink bug has established itself as an invasive pest in the state.
“They are showing some definite, severe problems on some apples, pears and quite a few other fruits,” said Chip Bubl, Oregon State University’s Agricultural Extension agent based in St. Helens. “This is probably our first year of visible, significant injury. It’s going to be a problem.”
The brown marmorated stink bug, even with its body odor and huge mouth, doesn’t look especially dangerous. But the insect has a modus operandi that is difficult to overlook.
The exotic pests use their piercing, straw-like mouths to efficiently suck out the innards of fruit, vegetables and leaves. They have ravaged orchards and field crops in places such as New York and Ohio.
The stink bug was discovered recently in a Hermiston catalpa tree.
January 6 & 7, 2014
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CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University recently received a half-million dollar grant, allowing them to develop a sensor to track bumblebees.
Entomologists say pet-owners put microchips in cats and dogs in case they get lost, and now, a similar idea will help them track bumblebees. The grant project is a partnership between entomologists and engineers at OSU.
"If we could put a little sensor – like a little chip – on the back of a bumblebee, and watch it and sort of track it, then that will give us that information,” said OSU Professor of Entomology Sujaya Rao. “Information such as where bees forage. Do they stick with their colonies? What differences are there among species?”
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will design miniature wireless sensors to attach to bumblebees that will provide real-time data on their intriguing behavior.
Many aspects of bumblebees' daily conduct are unknown because of their small size, rapid flight speeds, and hidden underground nests. OSU plans to build sensors that will reveal how these native pollinators search for pollen, nectar and nesting sites – information that will help researchers better understand how these insects assist in the production of crops that depend on pollination to produce fruits and vegetables, including blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, tomatoes and dozens of other staples of the Pacific Northwest agricultural economy.
PORTLAND -- A destructive stink bug is invading the Pacific Northwest and could cause billions of dollars in damage to crops.
The brown marmorated stink bug is an almost indestructible pest originally from Asia. Experts say it’s not only hard to kill, but it also eats almost any crop and is immune to most pesticides.
“It's spreading like wildfire in the Willamette Valley,” said Oregon State University entomology professor Peter Shearer. “We're finding it in hazelnuts, grapes and berry crops.”
HAREC hosts retreat that brings together entomology faculty, research assistants and graduate students across the state.
by Al Shay, Instructor in the Department of Horticulture
Many of us have heard of Colony Collapse Disorder that is affecting the European honey bee.
The honey bee is responsible for more widespread pollination of agricultural crops than any other pollinator. For every third bite of food you take, it is said you can thank a honeybee.
Oregon State University researchers warn of an increased risk of damage to late-ripening crops this year after discovering record levels of the brown marmorated stink bug, a newly established invasive pest in Oregon.
The alert comes at a critical time with harvest looming for many crops, including blueberries, raspberries, apples, pears, hazelnuts, grapes, sweet corn, peppers, and edible beans. The pest has shown an appetite for more than 100 different crops.
Late-season feeding and contamination by adult stink bugs and nymphs can result in discoloration of fruit, vegetables and nuts – ultimately sullying the crops' value at the marketplace. While no economic damage from the pest has been documented thus far in Oregon, OSU researchers worry that could change after this summer.
Long after life returns to normal and the netting comes off the trees in the Target parking lot in Wilsonville, researchers will still be conducting tests and research to learn more about the massive bee die-off that started June 15 after 55 trees were treated with a pesticide.
For Oregon State University Extension Entomologist Sujaya Rao, an expert on bumblebees and native bees, the work has only begun.
Rao has been back to the parking lot several times since the dying bees were first discovered. The good news is that though dead bees are collecting inside of the nets, no new significant deaths are being found on the ground.
Growers can now easily identify and manage insects while in the field using smart phones and tablets with a new online tool developed by Oregon State University and partners.
Last year, if a grower found a glob of frothy, white foam smeared on a patch of young alfalfa hay, one option was to comb through 600-plus pages in a three-ring binder to identify the culprit as a meadow spittlebug.
Now, growers can check the revamped Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook website.
The spotted wing drosophila fruit fly could pose a greater threat to berry and cherry producers in Oregon and Washington this season, scientists are warning.
Populations were high last season and more flies likely made it through a mild winter, said Vaughn Walton, an Oregon State University Extension entomologist in Corvallis. Early blueberries and cane berries may be more susceptible this season, he said.
"A relatively warm spring enhanced their survivability and ability to lay eggs. Modeling shows there will be pressure, no question. Timing will be the key thing," Walton said.
Concerned about the decline of honeybees, one of the hardest-working food crop pollinators? Don't overlook the importance of a native pollinator of your fruit trees – the blue orchard mason bee.
"The diversity of flowers requires a diversity of pollinators," said George Hoffman, entomology researcher in Oregon State University's Department of Crop and Soil Science. "Also, if one disease affects one pollinator, it doesn't necessarily affect the others. Gardens need a diversity of pollinators so one disease or parasite won't wipe out all its pollinators."
You’ve heard of eco-roofs and rooftop gardens, but the latest twist to hit Portland comes with a sweeter payout: Rooftop honeybee hives.
New Seasons Market recently installed a honeybee hive atop its store in Happy Valley, a picturesque suburb 15 minutes east of Clackamas that’s a mix of newer homes and farmland.
“They’ll go to all these neighborhoods, start pollinating everyone’s gardens and yards, the fruit trees and farms,” says Portland beekeeper Damian Magista, surveying the skyline from the grocery store’s roof. “It’s a great environment here. There’s plenty of food.”
In other words: Happy bees make lots of honey.
For berry and stone fruit farmers, nature has conspired to create perfect conditions for an explosion of a crop-damaging fruit fly known formally as drosophila suzukii and informally as the spotted wing drosophila.
Researchers at Oregon State University are predicting record levels of the invasive pest, which wreaks havoc on blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, peaches, prunes and other popular fruits.
“The climate is absolutely perfect in many ways, at this stage,” said horticultural entomologist Vaughn Walton.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – The spotted wing drosophila fly, which lays its eggs in fruit and makes it unmarketable, could reach record population levels in the Pacific Northwest this year, according to Oregon State University researchers.
"All indications estimate this season will be similar or worse than 2012, which was the worst on record," said Vaughn Walton, an entomologist with the OSU Extension Service. “Winter and spring temperatures in the Pacific Northwest have been warmer than last year, and heat equals larger populations of spotted wing drosophila.”
Last year alarms sounded around the world when a university study reported a “deadly fly parasite” could threaten the honey bees, making them act “zombie-like” and saying it was “consistent” with the deadly Colony Collapse Disorder.
The Associated Press, and other news agencies quickly broadcast the questioned discovery without checking reliable sources beyond those who produced the study.
Oregon State University is studying how to use bug-on-bug warfare to stop this crop-damaging pest. The insect arrived in the eastern United States in the late 1990s and has since spread to more than 30 states. This non-native bug was found in Portland in 2004 and has since shown up in 13 Oregon counties, including all of the Willamette Valley. The pest has caused major commercial crop damage in many eastern states but so far it has had minimal impact on Northwest crops.
Oregon State University aims to see if creating more foraging habitat for bumblebees will increase the pollination and yield of blueberries bushes, which mostly depend on bees to turn their blossoms into berries.
OSU researchers will determine if bordering fields with vegetation that blooms from early spring to late fall will attract bumblebees and other native bees searching for pollen for food. The scientists hope that while the bees are at it, they'll pollinate the nearby blueberry flowers, which only blossom for a short time in the spring.
"It's very important to give native pollinators a reason to hang around blueberries," said Sujaya Rao, an OSU entomologist working on the project. "Just one fruit crop with three or four weeks of bloom is not enough to sustain a bumblebee colony. If more native pollinators, like bumblebees, can be attracted, the pocketbooks of blueberry growers would benefit."
Oregon State University researchers want to see if increasing foraging habitat for native bumblebees will in turn increase their pollination of nearby blueberry fields.
Blueberries bloom for only a few weeks. If alternative blossoms aren't available once the crop is finished blooming, bumblebees will move onto better food sources, according to a news release.
"It's very important to give native pollinators a reason to hang around blueberries," Sujaya Rao, an OSU entomologist working on the project, said in the release. "Just one fruit crop with three or four weeks of bloom is not enough to sustain a bumblebee colony."
According to Mike Burgett, Oregon State University Extension emeritus professor of entomology, there are two species of fireflies in Oregon.
Actually, fireflies are species of beetles rather than flies. And neither of the species found in our state glows as an adult.
Oregon agriculture entomologists say one of the state's worst pests, the crop-eating brown marmorated stinkbug, moves indoors this time of year. You may see them clinging to walls, climbing up curtains or snuggled into couch cushions.
Brown marmorated stinkbugs can heavily damage fruit and vegetables, and tend to move indoors for the winter.
They let off a gnarly smell when agitated but aren't dangerous to people or pets. They don't harm structures and won't chew on your houseplants. Give them a warm place for the winter, however, and it's more likely their offspring will graze on your peppers, tomatoes or flowers next spring and summer.
“If the population of varroa mites was beyond what we call an economic threshold level then it definitely affects the health and survival of the bees,” said Ramesh Sagili, an assistant professor at Oregon State University’s Department of Horticulture and honeybee researcher.
The 2012 Entomology Program area retreat was held September 14, 2012 at the Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Hood River, OR.
Entomology Program Area within the School
Discussion on responsibilities:
- Curricula – graduate and undergraduate
- Input to Seminar series in Hort/CSS
- Awards nominations
- Ken Gray Image Collection
- Interface with ESA/PBESA
A researcher at Oregon State University has reported Oregon's first documented case of a "zombie" fly infecting a honeybee, but he doubts that the parasite at the moment poses a threat to the already beleaguered bee, which is a vital pollinator of some of the state's key crops.
Ramesh Sagili, a honeybee specialist with the OSU Extension Service, stumbled upon a belly-up bee on a sidewalk under a street light on campus in Corvallis one morning in late July. He placed it in a vial in his lab, and four days later seven maggots crawled out of the bee's neck. Almost three weeks after that, one matured into an Apocephalus borealis fly, commonly called a zombie fly because of the disoriented behavior it is suspected of causing the bees to exhibit at night.
Jeffrey Miller, a Lepidoptera expert at Oregon State University, explains that caterpillars use silk as a lifeline all the time, not just when spinning cocoons. “They spin silk from a gland built into their multiple mouthpart bits. They use silk as a place (pad) to molt, when they are disturbed by wind, when threatened by a predator, and when – those that must – lower themselves to the ground and look for a place to make their pupa,” he says.
“Aw, no bugs!” exclaims Betsey Miller after meticulously pouring over a wheelbarrow’s worth of decomposing leaf litter and manure. “The chickens are doing a great job, but it’s still fun for us entomologists to find insects once in a while!”
A pen of praiseworthy red-ranger chickens peck away at the grass a few yards away, devouring beetles, larvae and weeds with single-minded perseverance. Their fiery plumage stands out against an emerald backdrop of spring foliage, like a premonition of rosy fruit to come.
Miller and her colleagues at Oregon State University (Extension and Department of Horticulture) brought the pest-seeking fowl to La Mancha’s Brooklane Organic Apple Orchard in Corvallis to conduct a pilot study on the use of free-range poultry for biodynamic pest control. Here, the birds move through the leafy rows of apple trees inside open-air enclosures known as “chicken tractors,” mowing down unwanted vegetation with the efficiency of weed whackers, hunting every apple maggot out of its earthen den and growing into succulent, free-range broilers in the process.
Oregon researchers may have found a way to stop the brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive insect with the potential to cause severe damage to the state's apples, peaches, grapes, tomatoes and many other valuable crops.
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