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Archive for the 'Pests' Category


11
Jul

Doctor in South Florida Sues to Block Hazardous Mosquito Spray

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2017) South Florida resident Michael Hall, M.D., filed an emergency request in federal court last week to block Miami-Dade County’s continued use of the organophosphate insecticide naled to control mosquito populations. There have been two rounds of aerial naled applications in Miami-Dade this year. Widespread use of the chemical in efforts to control the transmission of Zika last year prompted protests from residents complaining of health effects from the spraying, and calls to focus on less toxic, alternative methods of mosquito breeding prevention and control. The present use of naled in Miami-Dade is not focused on Zika control, but addressing the native salt marsh mosquito, which does not transmit human diseases, but can be a significant nuisance in shoreline areas. According to WLRN, officials are no longer using naled for Zika control as the mosquito species that carries it, Aedes aegypti, usually stays well hidden under vegetation and shrubbery. A study released last year confirmed that the county’s use of naled did little to reduce mosquito populations. “Naled, a potent organophosphate adulticide applied aerially, produced a transitory suppression in Wynwood but lost efficacy after two or three applications. In Miami Beach, aerial application of naled produced […]

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15
Jun

Aerial Mosquito Spraying Linked to Elevated Autism Rates

(Beyond Pesticides, June 15, 2017) Communities exposed to frequent aerial spraying for mosquito control experience elevated rates of autism diagnoses, according to new research. The study identifies the frequent use of synthetic pyrethroid insecticides, which are linked to neurocognitive and behavioral impacts, among other health effects. Pediatric researchers at Penn State University and the University of California examined communities in eight zip codes in Onondaga County, New York with frequent aerial spray programs for mosquito control, and contrasted these findings with communities in 16 zip codes that do not employ similar pesticide use programs. According to the study, between 2007 and 2009, the average yearly pesticide burden across the eight aerial exposed zip codes was approximately 11,000 kilograms, compared to approximately 4,000 kilograms of pesticide exposure across the 16 control zip codes. The study finds that the zip codes with frequent aerial pyrethroid exposure are 37% more likely to have higher rates of childhood developmental delays and autism spectrum disorder. The researchers acknowledge that the study establishes a correlational, not a causal, link between pyrethroid exposure and autism/developmental disorders, it adds to a growing body of research demonstrating an exposure-effect relationship between the two. Other studies have similarly linked developmental disorders and autism […]

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13
Jun

Common Mosquito Control Insecticides Decrease Motor Function in Infants

(Beyond Pesticides, June 13, 2017) Prenatal exposure to commonly used mosquito and agricultural insecticides is associated with decreased motor function in infants, according to a study published in Environment International by a team of Chinese and U.S. researchers. The results of the study should give pause to insecticide-heavy efforts to control mosquitoes as the season ramps up this summer and fall. Frequent spraying as part of efforts to control Zika in Southern Florida last year resulted in large protests and calls for a preventive management approach not dependent on toxic chemicals. For the current study, over 350 pregnant Chinese mothers were tested for the presence of organophosphate pesticides in their umbilical cord blood. Researchers looked at exposure to the insecticides naled, methamidophos, trichlorfon, chlorpyrifos, and phorate. After giving birth, their children’s motor function was tested at both six and nine months of age. Tests included an analysis of the infant’s reflexes, locomotion, grasping, stationary and visual-motor integration abilities. Scores were categorized based on gross, fine, and total motor skills, and standardized quotients were created for each of the categories. Of the over 300 mothers, roughly 240 had detectable levels of one of the insecticides in their samples. Although no differences […]

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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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07
Mar

Common Household Pesticides Again Linked to Behavioral Problems in Children

(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2017) Another study, published by a team of French scientists in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, links childhood behavioral problems to pyrethroid insecticide exposure. Synthetic pyrethroids are a class of insecticides that have increased in use over the past decade due to assumptions that they pose fewer risks to human health than older pesticide chemistries, such as organophosphates. However, this latest study is part of a growing body of research showing that pyrethroids share similar neurocognitive health concerns as these older pesticides. .   In this research, scientists investigate the interplay between pyrethroid exposure and behavioral problems through a longitudinal cohort study, which tracks levels of pyrethroid metabolites, or breakdown products, in the urine of mothers beginning between six and 19 gestational weeks and then in their children up through six years of age. Children’s behavior is measured through a screening questionnaire known as the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). SDQ measures how social a child is (altruism), whether the child has difficulty sharing problems or asking for help (internalizing disorders), as well as how defiant or disruptive a child is (externalizing disorders). The study controlled for a number of confounding factors, such as weight, education, location (rural or […]

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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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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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01
Feb

North Miami Passes IPM Plan in Response to Local Activism

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2017) Last week in North Miami, the City Council took a significant step that could reduce pesticide use in the community. The Council adopted an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy modeled after a plan developed by San Francisco in the mid-90’s. The plan does not ban pesticides and herbicides, but instead aims to reeducate citizens and county workers on least-toxic pest management strategies with the goal of eliminating toxic pesticide use on city property.  The IPM plan does not address pesticide use on private property, due to state preemption of local authority. With the passage of the North Miami’s resolution, city operatives will now be asked to give preference to available, safe and effective non-pesticide alternatives and cultural practices. As stated in the resolution’s Integrated Pesticide Management Program Guidelines, the goal of the policy is “to eliminate the application of all Toxicity Category I and Category II pesticide products by January 2018.” On top of eliminating certain pesticide categories, the resolution also calls for staff training and expert consultants, both of which have the potential to help ease the transition in pursuit of the 2018 goal, and priority will be given to efforts to reduce or eliminate pesticide use near […]

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06
Jan

Introducing Polli-NATION: Celebrating Unsung Pollinator Heroes

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2017) When it comes to pollination, bees tend to get all of the buzz. While they are crucial to pollinating many crops, it is important to note that bees aren’t the only pollinators working hard to provide the ecosystem services we rely on to support our food system. In fact, one out of every three bites of food we take is made possible by pollinators. In order to raise awareness for the unsung pollinator heroes all around us, Beyond Pesticides created the Polli-NATION Campaign, which highlights the important work of a relatively unknown pollinator each month. With it, we will raise public awareness about these pollinators, their contribution to plant health and productivity and the preservation of natural resources, and the threats they face in their daily lives, including toxic pesticides and habitat loss. Polli-NATION members include species like butterflies, wasps, flies, beetles, birds, bats, and more. By taking the time to read about our featured Polli-NATION pollinator, you will not only learn about the many diverse species we call pollinators, but also discover what you can do in your daily life to help ensure their survival. Our pollinator of the month is the bee fly! […]

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04
Jan

Death of Four Texas Children Linked to Inadequately Regulated Pesticide, Follows Other Deaths

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2017) The New Year saw its first pesticide-related tragedy yesterday when four children, ranging in age from 7-17, died from a toxic pesticide treatment on their house in Amarillo, Texas. The pesticide at issue, aluminum phosphide, was illegally applied under a mobile home where at least ten people were living. The chemical, classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a restricted use pesticide (RUP), is restricted for use by certified applicators (and those under their supervision) and it is a violation to use it within 100 feet of residential structures. CNN reports that a family member used water to try and wash away the pesticide after it was applied, and the combination of water and aluminum phosphide increased the release of toxic phosphine gas. The incident demonstrates the deficiency of managing risks of highly toxic chemicals by labeling them “restricted use.” It has been Beyond Pesticides’ position that chemicals with aluminum phosphide’s level of toxicity should not be available on the market, even with restrictions. In making regulatory determinations on pesticide allowances, advocates have urged EPA to calculate the reality of misuse and accidents, instead of assuming 100% compliance with product label instructions. With this approach, the agency would […]

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01
Sep

Over Two Million Bees Killed after Aerial Mosquito Spraying in South Carolina

(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2016) Last Sunday, beekeepers in Dorchester County, South Carolina emerged from their homes to find their yards and  farms, once full of busy buzzing, littered with the honey bees. The cause was no mystery — a massive bee-kill had occurred due to aerial spraying of Naled, a highly toxic  insecticide used primarily to control adult mosquitoes. The county announced plans to spray two days before the incident, when four travel-related cases of Zika virus were confirmed in the area by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. The spraying occurred between 6:30 and 8:30am. Naled is an organophosphate insecticide with the highest acute toxicity of any mosquitocide. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Naled can cause cholinesterase (an enzyme necessary to the transmission of nerve impulses) inhibition in humans, meaning that it can overstimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, confusion, and, at very high exposures (e.g., accidents or major spills), respiratory paralysis and death. Naled is highly toxic to honey bees. In Dorchester County, beekeepers say that the spray announcements did not come soon enough. Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply lost more than 2.3 million insects from 46 hives, according to co-owner Juanita […]

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01
Sep

Maryland Begins Spraying for Zika before Finding Infected Mosquitoes

(Beyond Pesticides, September 1, 2016) With the apparent mosquito transmission of the  Zika virus in Florida, local officials around the United States have been feeling pressure to step-up preemptive mosquito spraying, prior to the virus actually emerging  locally in infected mosquitoes. The Zika virus has been contributing to public anxiety in the U.S. for several months and, because of this, the state of Maryland has started spraying with hazardous insecticides. The state has made targeting mosquitoes its  number one priority, while many argue that the state’s spraying  puts the well-being of residents at risks. As of August 24, there are 77 travel-associated cases of Zika in the state of Maryland. Without a finding of infected mosquitoes in the state, the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Mosquito Control Program is focusing its  control actions on female (the ones that bite) aedes albopictus, commonly known as Asian tiger mosquitoes, the most common type of mosquito in Maryland that studies indicate “has the potential” to transmit the Zika virus. MDA’s Mosquito Control Program implements the state’s mosquito management, which is conducted in accordance with an undefined  Integrated Pest Management (IPM)  program; basing the  approach broadly on prevention, monitoring, and control of mosquitoes. As […]

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25
Aug

Miami-Dade Stops Aerial Spraying on Weekdays to Reduce Exposure to Students

(Beyond Pesticides, August 25, 2016) The County of Miami-Dade announced Tuesday that it will no longer conduct aerial sprayings on weekdays, to avoid exposing children and teachers. In an effort to control the spread of Zika, the county is consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), to spray a neighborhood in the county, Wynwood, with Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) and Naled. Mosquito officials were conducting the spraying during the early hours of the morning, when fewer people were around, the first day of the school year in Miami-Dade started this week, putting teachers and students at risk of exposure at bus stops. The county’s move is encouraging, because as research has continuously shown, children and pesticides don’t mix.  Studies show children’s developing organs create “early windows of great vulnerability” during which exposure to pesticides can cause great damage. Childhood pesticide exposure has been linked to a range of adverse health endpoints, including cancer, asthma, impaired sexual development, ADHD and other learning disabilities. “We have adjusted our spraying schedule to avoid any inconvenience to our local school system, and the children, families, and teachers in our community,” the office of Mayor […]

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22
Aug

Pesticide Resistant Whitefly in U.S. Points to Need for Organic Management Strategies

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2016) An invasive whitefly that is resistant to pesticides has been found outdoors in the U.S. for the first time, prompting a public discussion hosted by the University of Florida Extension Miami-Dade in Homestead, Florida on July 29. And while the fears amongst fruit and vegetable growers over crop devastation are valid, little attention has been paid to the viability and effectiveness of organic and cultural management practices in preventing and managing  whiteflies. Meanwhile, chemical intensive agriculture, which is dependent on insecticides to control whiteflies, is harming the same beneficial insects that act as natural predators to the whitefly. The pest, a Q-biotype of the sweet potato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, has been present in greenhouses around the U.S. since 2004, when it was first found in Arizona. According to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, this pest “poses a serious risk to Florida’s $120 billion agriculture industry and the more than two million jobs it supports.” Whiteflies are tiny, fluid-sucking insects that thrive in warm weather and become abundant in ornamental and vegetable plantings. This particular species breed year round and large colonies often develop on the undersides of leaves. Whiteflies draw fluid of out a plant […]

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05
Aug

Fighting Zika – Growing Concerns over Pesticide Resistance

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2016) Concerned health officials in Miami, Florida are investigating suspicions that Zika-spreading mosquitoes have become resistant to the pesticides commonly used synthetic pyrethroid insecticides used in mosquito control. As the region works to contain a Zika outbreak in northern Miami, officials are beginning to recognize that broadcast pesticide applications are not effective at controlling populations, and are looking into cases in the U.S.  and in other parts of the world of mosquitoes developing resistance to chemical controls, or whether other factors are at work. At the same, the broadcasting of the pesticides by truck and plane and the resulting exposure to people and the environment also raise serious health issues. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which has the ability to live indoors and reproduce even in tiny pools of water, is the primary way the Zika virus is spread, although there are reports that the disease can also be transmitted through sexual contact. Zika virus has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains. The virus has been detected in several Latin American countries, including Brazil where the outbreak was first observed and linked to increased cases of microcephaly. However, locally […]

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27
Jul

Colombia Cautiously Declares End to Mosquito-Borne Zika Epidemic

(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2016) In South America, Colombia has officially declared an end to its Zika epidemic. The country, which previously had the highest cases of suspected Zika virus infection after Brazil, with a total of more than 99,721 people infected since September 2015 have registered a drop in the number of infections to 600 new cases a week, down significantly from a peak of more than 6,000 cases a week in February, according to health officials. Fernando Ruíz, M.D., Deputy Minister of Health and Service Provision in Colombia, said the numbers signaled that the epidemic had given way to an endemic phase of the disease, in which it continues to be present but spreads much more slowly. This news arrives following the publication of Zika Virus Disease in Colombia —Preliminary Report, which suggests that infe ctions late in pregnancy may pose less risk to the fetus than widely feared. The report follows thousands of women in Colombia who have had symptoms consistent with Zika virus disease during pregnancy to try to better understand the risk the virus poses. At the time of the report, the country had only seven official cases of microcephaly, a birth defect marked by […]

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26
Jul

Health Canada Moves to Limit Exposure to Boric Acid Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2016)  Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) announced this week it will cancel certain  formulations  of boric acid-based pesticides. The announcement reflects the latest science showing that certain products, such as those in dust formulations or open baits, put residents at inhalation and ingestion exposure risk, respectively, to the naturally occurring element  boron and borate compounds. PRMA’s decision  is part of the Health Canada’s registration review of boric acid, which, like that of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is conducted every 15 years. PRMA is cancelling the following uses of boric acid and similar compounds All domestic dust formulation products All domestic granular formulation products Domestic solution formulation products, with the exception of enclosed bait stations and spot treatment with gel formulations For other uses, PRMA has amended label requirements to better protect handlers and users of the pesticide. For example, the agency will update label directions to specify that boron products can only be applied to areas inaccessible to children and pets. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health in Canada said in a press release, “even natural ingredients like boric acid can pose a risk to Canadians. That’s why Health Canada looks at all […]

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11
Jul

CDC, EPA Urge Aerial Mosquito Spraying in Puerto Rico Amid Protest

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2016) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last Wednesday, July 6 that Zika is spreading rapidly in Puerto Rico, and recommends aerial spraying of the toxic pesticide Naled for mosquito control, much to the dismay of many area farmers, activists and concerned citizens who feel that the decision was made without consultation or information provided to the local population. Aerial spraying of pesticides have long been used for mosquito control, but many experts believe that these methods fail to sufficiently manage mosquito populations, increase pesticide resistance, and kill other species that would have acted as a natural predator to mosquitoes. Many experts  agree that combating mosquito-borne diseases should include good surveillance and scientific understanding for controlling mosquito populations, including a focus on  eliminating or managing  breeding areas,  utilizing  biological controls, exclusion from indoor environments with screening, and repellents. An efficient mosquito management strategy emphasizes public awareness, prevention, and monitoring methods. However, if these methods are not used properly or in time, communities must determine if they should risk exposing vulnerable populations to potentially harmful diseases caused by mosquitoes or to chronic or deadly illnesses caused by […]

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27
May

FDA Deliberating Release of GE Mosquitoes in Florida Keys

(Beyond Pesticides, May 27, 2016) Oxitec, a self-described pioneer in using advanced genetics to control target  insects, has petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant emergency approval of genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes to fight the spread of the Zika virus. Oxitec has proposed a trial to determine the efficacy of their self-limiting mosquitoes for the control of Aedes aegypti, a type of mosquito known to transmit the Zika virus, in Key Haven, Monroe County, Florida. However, some in the environmental community are concerned about the possible non-target effects of releasing these genetically modified mosquitoes into nature and urge additional research in the lab. The plan for a release of these GE mosquitoes has been in the works for a while. In February 2015, it was reported that the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) was working alongside Oxitec to release these GE mosquitoes, but, at the time, the plan had not yet been finalized. A change.org petition against the release garnered over 146,000 signatures and continues to grow, with numbers around 168,000 to this date. In February 2016, Oxitec submitted a draft environmental assessment to FDA, and a month later, FDA published a preliminary finding of no […]

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19
May

Congress Cites Zika Virus in Effort to Attack Water Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2016) Using fear without facts, Congress is yet again attempting to gut Clean Water Act (CWA) provisions that protect waterways and communities from excessive pesticide pollution. In a move that was blasted by House Democrats this week, HR 897  (which was introduced as the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2015) was renamed the  Zika Vector Control Act, despite the fact that the bill does not actually do anything to address the threat of Zika. The legislation was defeated Tuesday on a suspension vote, 262-159, however the bill will be going to the Rules Committee on Monday, with anticipated House floor activity on Tuesday, May 24. (Take action: urge your representative to oppose HR 897.) “In a brazenly political act, the Republican leadership is trying to mask gutting the Clean Water Act as having something to do with fighting Zika,” Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), said in a statement to The Hill. “This bill has nothing to do with Zika and everything to do with Republicans’ relentless special interest attacks on the Clean Water Act,” he said. “It will do nothing to stem the growing threat of the Zika virus.” The bill […]

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04
Feb

Study Finds Bed Bugs Highly Resistant to Neonic Insecticides

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2016) According to a study published in Oxford University Press, entitled High Levels of Resistance in the Common Bed Bug, bed bugs have developed resistance to neonicotinoids (neonics). Neonics have become one of the most widely used active ingredients to control bed bugs since the insects’ have exhibited  resistance to other chemicals, including synthetic pyrethroids.  Troy Anderson, Ph.D., entomologist at Virginia Tech and Alvaro Romero, Ph.D., entomologist at New Mexico State, studies found higher neonic  efficacy for neonics used on lab bed bugs as compared with bed bugs found in domestic settings. With the resurgence of bed bugs across the U.S., exterminators have relied heavily on insecticides to manage the pesky pests, despite questions about efficacy due to resistance, and viability of alternative, non-toxic solutions. To test the tolerance and ineffectiveness of pesticides used on bed bugs, Drs. Anderson and Romero used four popular neonics (imidacloprid, acetamiprid, dinotefuran, thiamethoxam) to compare their effectiveness in wild and isolated bed bug populations. Bed bugs isolated in a lab died quickly from a small amount of neonics, however, those same chemical treatments used on bed bugs found in Cincinnati and Michigan were ineffective. The isolated group of bed bugs […]

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03
Feb

With Zika Virus, Widespread Pesticide Spraying Not the Long-Term Solution, says Entomologist

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2016) Speaking to The Guardian, a leading Kenyan entomologist warns that spraying pesticides will fail to deal with the Zika virus. Just recently the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a public health emergency over growing concerns that the virus is linked with microcephaly. Aerial and ground applications of pesticides have long been used for mosquito control, but many believe that these methods fail to sufficiently control mosquito populations, promote resistance and kill other species that would have acted as a natural predator to mosquitoes. Dino Martins, PhD, a Kenyan entomologist in an interview with The Guardian said that while pesticides can reduce the population of  flying adult mosquitoes that transmit the virus, they will fail to deal with the epidemic that threatens to become a global pandemic, and warns that spraying landscapes is extremely dangerous.  “It is a quick fix but you pay for it. You kill other species that would have predated on the mosquitoes. You also create a mosaic of sprayed and unsprayed low densities of chemicals that fosters the rapid evolution of resistance.” Mosquitoes have very short life cycle (a week or less), increasing the probability that each succeeding generation is […]

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13
Nov

Sound Waves Disrupt Mating of Pest in Orange Groves

(Beyond Pesticides, November 13, 2015) Research finds that sound waves could combat the Asian citrus psyllid, an insect that has been devastating Florida orange groves, and possibly reduce the need for pesticides. The Asian citrus psyllid carries a bacteria that causes “citrus greening,” an incurable disease with symptoms that include yellow shoots, uneven discolored patches, and deficiencies with the production of chlorophyll, green pigment found within plants. To stem the spread of the disease  —which is responsible for an estimated $3.63 billion in lost revenue from orange juice for the state of Florida from 2006-2012— researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and University of Florida (UF) are developing vibration traps that hijack psyllid mating calls to locally bring their populations under control. “We’re trying hard to cut down on use of pesticides in orange groves, partly because we are worried they’ll build up resistance to pesticides, and that will make things even worse,” said Richard Mankin, Ph.D., a research entomologist with USDA. He presented  findings  on acoustic disruption at the meeting of the American Acoustical Society  last month in Jacksonville. When a male Asian psyllid is looking for a mate, he situates himself on a twig and alerts […]

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