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Monday, June 25, 2012

Spotted wing drosophila post harvest and larval sampling factsheet

I've completed the second in a series of spotted wing drosophila (SWD) factsheets.  This one addresses post harvest concerns about SWD and summarizes larval sampling methods.  As with much relating to SWD, there is a lot we don't yet know, but this factsheet provides a starting point for those interested in developing a sampling plan for larval SWD.

Please note, factsheets are shared via Google Documents, which is great for quickly and easily posting files but does sacrifice image quality.  If you would like a printer quality digital copy of this factsheet. Please email me.

You can find the first factsheet on SWD biology and management in North Carolina caneberries here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The 2012 "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15" lists

The Environmental Working Group's annual Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists have been released, and once again, several fruits are included. Strawberries, grapes, and blueberries are all on the Dirty Dozen list, which measure ranks produce by pesticide residue levels.  Last year, I wrote about what lists like the Dirty Dozen mean for IPM practitioners and researchers.  You can find that post here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Do it yourself: take insect photos and collect samples for diganosis

I receive lots of emails from extension agents, growers, and homeowners requesting insect identification.  Oftentimes, these emails are accompanied by photographs of the insect, associated damage, or both.  Sometimes, these images are useful in determining what species, or more commonly, what general group of insects are responsible for the damage.  Most of the time, however, these images do not aid in insect identification and can even make it more difficult.

A group of entomologists from throughout the southeastern US have developed a series of training modules on basic insect identification, including Wiki pages, targeted to master gardeners, homeowners, and invasive species first detectors.  The First Detector Wiki describes how to identify some of the most common pest species as well as some of the most important invasive species spreading throughout the US.

More importantly for the budding entomological photographer, there are pages which cover the basis of how to properly photograph and submit images for digital diagnosis and how to collect and preserve insect samples for diagnosis.

The First Detector Wiki also includes information about some of the many pests in several insects orders.  Each of these order-level pages also includes information on how to take a good picture of members of that group.  For example, information to on taking a diagnostic photo of Dipterans (flies) is here.  The Diptera and Coleoptera (beetle) pages were developed by recent NC State Entomology graduate Matt Bertone in collaboration with myself and Mark Abney.

If you are interested in photographing insects for reasons beyond simple diagnosis, there are lots of amazing sites devoted to insect photography.  Some of my favorites are from Alex Wild (here and here) and Piotr Naskrecki (here).

More information
How to properly photograph and submit images for digital diagnosis - First Detector Wiki
Collecting insects - First Detector Wiki

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

SWD factsheets for Summer 2012

I have started working on a series of updated spotted wing drosophila (SWD) factheets for Summer 2012, the first of which is a general factsheet for caneberry (blackberry and raspberry) growers.
Look for more updated factsheets for strawberries, blueberries, grapes, homeowners, and on trapping and larval sampling soon.

Spotted wing drosophila fact sheets from Penn State

The IPM team at Penn State University has put together several nice fact sheets on spotted wing drosophila (SWD) in the last several months.  I particularly like the images of non SWD males in this fact sheet and the character summaries illustrated here.  I've used these images to illustrated SWD characters to participants in the SWD*VMN and extension agents monitoring for SWD.

More information
Spotted wing drosophila pest alert - Penn State University Extension

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Reminder: blackberry field tour this Thursday!

Green June beetle on ripe blackberries at the Lower Coastal Plain Research Station, Kinston, NC during a research trial in 2009. Photo: HJB
This Thursday I will be in Henderson County for a blackberry twilight tour organized by the Henderson County Cooperative Extension office; contact them for location and schedule information. I have already had two calls this week with questions about spotted wing drosophila (SWD) and blackberries, so I will be focusing on that topic and will also touch on thrips and cane borers.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Results for multi state spotted wing drosophila project: what's next for eFLY

Female (left) and male (right) spotted wing drosophila on a raspberry at the Upper Mountain Research Station near Laurel Springs, NC. Photo: HJB
Last fall I solicited help from the readers of this blog and from small fruit growers, consumers, and researchers from throughout the eastern US to rank spotted wing drosophila (SWD) research and extension needs.  You responded in force with over 300 responses to our online and in person surveys.  A group of researchers and extension folks (include myself) used these responses to craft a multi state project, including cooperators from Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina with connections to projects in many other states, which we submitted to the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative Program. We entitled our project eFLY. There is ongoing research activity in the western US on SWD, including the SWD*IPM group coordinated through Oregon State University, but we felt strongly that environmental differences in the eastern US presented very different management challenges for SWD and regionally appropriate research was crucial. This conclusion was borne out in 2011 when monitoring tools and management strategies developed in the western US did not prove effective in the southeast US and continues to be the case in 2012 as we encounter another difficult SWD management season.

Unfortunately, we recently received word last week that our project was not selected for funding. 
I don't often share the results of grants with the readers of this blog, but the feedback and participation we received from small fruit stakeholders throughout the eastern US to our request for help was so fantastic that I felt I should share the ultimate outcome with you as well.  Reviewers of our proposal cited our strong stakeholder engagement as a strength of the proposal, which is in no small part thanks to the responses we received from you to our survey.  

What does this mean for SWD research in the eastern US moving forward? 
The goal of developing a multi state project was to answer questions about SWD management and biology throughout the eastern US and to develop near-term implementable SWD management programs.  A project of this scope will be highly unlikely without funding.  A number of the scientists cooperating on this project have some regional or state support to conduct work on SWD. 

Our lab has funds from North Carolina and from the NC Blueberry Council which will support some of our work for this year and part of next summer.  The SWD*VMN will continue at least through 2012, and we hope to continue into 2013.  Beyond this, however, funding is unclear.  We will likely be seeking your feedback again for future multi state projects as well as reaching out to our state and local grower communities to understand their management needs and for continued and further support.  

Please do not hesitate to contact me for more information on SWD in the southeast.