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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Biological Control' Category


22
Sep

Washoe Tribal Council Brings Goats to Its Rangeland to Manage Invasive Weeds

(Beyond Pesticides in Gardnerville, Nevada, September 22, 2017) For the second year, the Washoe Tribe has brought a 450 head herd of goats to its tribal land to manage weeds on its rangeland at the Stewart Ranch. The program, led by the Washoe Tribal Environmental Protection Department (WEPD), is being conducted with the Washington, DC-based organization Beyond Pesticides and Goat Green LLC., a goat grazing company based in Wyoming. “We are goal oriented and want to heal all components of this living system including diversity in desired plants, recycling of all nutrients, water retention in the soil to prevent erosion and decrease runoff to the river.  The goat herd is a living tool and we work with deep respect for the land, water, animals and culture of the Washoe people,” says Lani Malmberg, co-owner of Goat Green, LLC. The program is being launched as a pilot, an alternative to using herbicides for managing invasive weeds, including Perennial Pepperweed, Hoary Cress, Canada Thistle, Russian Knapweed and others.  Goat grazing has been demonstrated to be an effective tool because the herd eats unwanted vegetation then cycles nutrients back into the soil, thus fertilizing.  Goats get a drink and deliver water to dry sites […]

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01
May

Infected Mosquito Trial Launched Against Zika and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases

(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2017) The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District released 20,000 male mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria near Key West, as a trial strategy to manage mosquitoes that carry Zika and other viruses. The district and others have been exploring new ways to suppress infected Aedes aegypti mosquito populations, which thrive in urban environments and can spread Zika, dengue fever, and chikungunya. It is unclear what impacts, if any, these infected mosquitoes will have on non-target organisms or public health. The trial is the second U.S. test conducted with the naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, developed by the Kentucky-based company MosquitoMate. The first test occurred in Clovis, California, last year. In September 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which registers mosquito control products, approved and expanded an experimental use permit (EUP) for Wolbachia pipientis-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (not to be confused with genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes).  According to the agency, Wolbachia are naturally occurring bacteria commonly found in most insect species, but not in the Aedes aegypti. This strain of Wolbachia is extracted from Aedes albopictus embryos and microinjected into Aedes aegypti embryos. Male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are shipped to testing sites where they are released and mate with wild-type Aedes aegypti females that do not carry Wolbachia. After mating, the […]

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27
Feb

Poisoning Feral Hogs Raises Safety and Environmental Concerns

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2017)  Texas has been dealing with a feral hog issue for many years, however recently Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller approved the use of a toxic rodenticide in an effort to control feral hog populations, a decision hunters and trappers oppose because the pesticide will poison prey and wreak havoc on ecosystems where the hogs live. The estimated population of the feral hog population is about 1.5 million in the state of Texas, where they can cause extensive damage to property, crops, and native wildlife. Wild hogs have been considered to be one of the most destructive invasive species in the U.S. The feral hog population, close to six million, span 39 states and four Canadian provinces. Commissioner Miller, in announcing the widespread use of toxic pesticide referred to the problem as the “feral hog apocalypse.” Damage caused by wild hogs has been estimated to reach well into the millions. Smithsonian Magazine has reported the annual damage caused by feral hog populations to be around $400 million. The Texas Parks and Wildlife website states that hogs are opportunistic omnivores.  Feral hogs enjoy eating domestic agricultural crops, such as corn, soybeans, peanuts, potatoes, watermelons and cantaloupe. They can cause […]

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21
Feb

Take Action: Bill Will Eliminate Permit Requirement to Spray Pesticides into Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2016) The Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill last week that will eliminate protections from toxic pesticides for the nation’s waterways. The bill now moves on to the full House for a vote and the public has an opportunity to let Representatives hear the concerns about weakening local protection of waterways from toxic pesticides. HR 953, The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (code for the sponsors and supporters as legislation to eliminate environmental protection of water quality), is the committee’s latest effort in a multi-year string of attempts to rollback common sense protections for the public waterways all Americans use for swimming, fishing, and other forms of recreation. The bill would repeal the Clean Water Act requirement that those who apply pesticides to waterways, with an exemption for farm use pesticides not directly deposited into waterways, obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Last May, at the height of fears over the Zika epidemic, the same Committee ushered through the same bill under another misleading name, The Zika Vector Control Act. Pensive lawmakers and the public saw through the ruse, and the bill was defeated. But, like previous iterations, including the 2015 Sensible Environmental […]

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13
Feb

Herbicide Use Contributes to Declines in Monarch Populations

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2017)  A study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and others  attributes the reduced number of overwintering monarch butterflies –a reduction of 27% from last year—to herbicide use and other factors. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in conjunction with U.S. and Mexican environmental groups, has been leading the effort in tracking monarch butterflies.  Their recently released 2016-2017 study concluded that the population of monarch butterflies decreased 27 percent from last year’s population, which had marked an increase from dangerously low levels over the previous three years.  Overall, this marks an 80 percent decline in monarch population from the 1990’s.  Researchers have estimated that within 20 years the monarch butterfly migration could collapse altogether. The study was conducted in December of 2016 when the colonies of monarchs are expected to be at their peak population in Mexico.  Monarch populations are gauged by the area of land they inhabit, rather than counts of butterflies.   Thirteen butterfly colonies were observed, recorded and tracked using geographic information systems software.  The researchers found that the butterflies occupied 2.91 hectares of forest, which re presents a 27.43 percent decrease in population compared to the 4.01 hectares of forest they inhabited during the […]

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09
Feb

Health Canada Will Begin Pesticide Testing of Cannabis After Recalls and Consumer Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2017) The failure of the U.S. pesticide regulatory system to protect marijuana users was highlighted as Health Canada announced Tuesday that it would begin conducting random pesticide residue testing of marijuana products to ensure that only registered products are being used in medical marijuana production. This comes on the heels of voluntary recalls in 2016 by two licensed Canadian cannabis producers due to the presence of the prohibited pesticides bifenazate, myclobutanil, and pyrethrins in or on marijuana products. Especially concerning is the detection of myclobutanil, a powerful fungicide that, when heated, converts to the hazardous gas hydrogen cyanide. The detection of these toxic chemicals in medical marijuana products is distressing since many users have compromised immune systems or health conditions that make them more susceptible to toxic chemicals. Moves by several states in the U.S. to curb illegal pesticide use in marijuana contain significant pitfalls and loopholes that allow contaminated cannabis to enter the market, where it threatens public health. Without examination of residues in inhaled, ingested, or absorbed cannabis, the user’s health is not protected by pesticide registration addressing other uses. In addition, environmental impacts associated with growing practices are generally ignored. On January 9th, […]

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07
Feb

Ruling Affirmed in Colorado Pesticide Trespass Case

(Beyond Pesticides, February 7, 2017) After years of legal battle, the Colorado Court of Appeals last week affirmed a ruling that Colorado rancher, James Hopper, must serve two days in jail and pay a $7,500 fine for spraying pesticides that drifted unto his neighbor’s farm in violation of a 2012 court order protecting his neighbors. In 2012, organic farmers Rosemary Bilchak and her husband Gordon MacAlpine, were granted a permanent injunction prohibiting pesticide applications within 150 feet of the property line in order to reduce pesticide drift. Last week’s decision bolsters a legal precedent that wafting pesticides can constitute a trespass against which adjacent landowners and people with health sensitivities are protected. The legal battle began in 2011 when Mr. Hopper obtained his Colorado pesticide applicator’s license and applied the adulticide Fyfanon, which contains the organophosphate insecticide malathion, to kill mosquitoes on his property. However, the pesticide drifted onto Ms. Bilchak and Mr. MacAlpine’s organic vegetable farm. In 2012, a District Court Judge ruled that they have a right not to have their property invaded by other people or things, and prohibited Mr. Hopper from fogging for mosquitoes within 150 feet of his neighbor’s property or allowing the pesticides to drift, […]

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21
Nov

Holistic Weed Management Benefits Farmers and the Environment

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2016) The potential benefits of “weeds” have long been ignored, but a new study attempts to quantify the benefits of all species within an agricultural system, including the undesirable ones. The study, Integrating Insect, Resistance, and Floral Resource Management in Weed Control Decision-Making, by Cornell University scientists, assesses and updates holistic integrated pest management practices. In a discussion with the Cornell Chronicle, lead author of the study, Antonio DiTommaso, Ph.D., states, “Managing crop pests without fully understanding the impacts of tactics —related to resistance and nontarget plants or insects— costs producers money.” The authors introduced a weed management decision framework that accounts for weed benefits and illustrates that by allowing low levels of weeds in a cropping system, a farmer can increase crop yields and provide numerous ecosystem services. In a case study of an herbicide-tolerant corn cropping system, which had been controlled primarily with glyphosate,  the authors demonstrated that the European corn borer (ECB) could be reduced  through holistic management decision making. The  data suggest that, “Milkweed plants harboring aphids provide a food source (honeydew) for parasitoid wasps, which attack ECB eggs.” By maintaining low densities of milkweed in the corn field, farmers allow beneficial […]

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25
May

Goats Put to Work to Restore NYC’s Prospect Park

(Beyond Pesticides, May 25, 2016) New York City’s Prospect Park is bringing in a herd of goats to fight back opportunistic species that are encroaching in an area of the park after damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Rather than spray toxic weed killers like 2,4-D, triclopyr, or glyphosate, the Prospect Park Alliance used the grant money it obtained from the National Park Service to bring in these 4-legged weed warriors as a safe and environmentally friendly way to restore storm-damaged areas. “We are pleased to welcome these goats to Prospect Park to help us further the important woodland restoration work that has always been a focus for the Alliance,” Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue said to ABC7. “These goats will provide an environmentally-friendly approach to our larger efforts, which will not only beautify the Park, but make it more resilient to future storms.” After Hurricane Sandy barreled up the east coast, a roughly 1.5 acre area of Prospect Park was seriously damaged, with 100s of trees toppled. The disturbance has allowed so-called invasive species to move into the park, supplanting the regrowth of native species in the last remaining forested area in the borough of Brooklyn. Goats act as […]

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07
Oct

Study Shows Goats as Viable Control Agent for Opportunistic Wetland Reeds

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2014) Goat grazing to control opportunistic, unwanted, and poisonous plants has taken off across the country, as researchers continue to find new value in these personable animals. According to a study published last month by an international team of scientists in the journal PeerJ, goats have an outstanding potential to effectively control the opportunistic, or “invasive” reed Phragmites australis, and replace the unnecessary use of costly and dangerous herbicides. Although a native species of phragmites exist in the U.S.  (phragmites australis subspecies americanus), these plants do not form the dense monotypic stands characteristic of European phragmites (phragmites australis subspecies australis), which was introduced to the U.S. east coast in the early 1800s, and is currently found in wetlands throughout North America. The plant can grow up to 15 feet tall, and has been widely implicated in  reducing biodiversity and crowding out native species in wetlands. Land managers throughout the country are encountering phragmites and resorting to the use of toxic and expensive chemicals, usually combinations of the herbicide triclopyr and glyphosate, both of which have shown evidence of harm to aquatic species. A study published in 2013 in the journal Estuaries and Coasts found that between […]

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