Archives For Insects


Tree-killing emerald ash borer spreading fast, poses threat to eastern Mass.

emeraldashborer.info

DALTON, Mass. — State environmental officials say the invasive, tree-killing emerald ash borer is spreading faster than anticipated within Berkshire County and now poses a greater threat to eastern Massachusetts.

Nearly 18 months after the Department of Conservation and Recreation first detected it in Dalton, the metallic green beetle has been discovered in several neighboring communities.

Ken Gooch, the state’s Forest Health program supervisor, tells The Berkshire Eagle it’s spreading faster than expected.

The insect has also been detected in North Andover.

The state quarantined Berkshire wood in a bid to limit the spread of the bugs.

Emerald ash borer larvae feed just below the bark and adults eat the leaves, killing a tree within five years.

Originally from Asia, the insects have been detected in 22 states.


1. Old Men Still Dream

2. To Everything, There Is a Season: Remembering Pete Seeger

Wireimage

3. Jewish Advocacy Group Speaks Out Against Racist Name of D.C.’s NFL Team

Associated Press

4. Raven Guitars, Icy Straight Lumber Named Winners of Path to Propserity Competition

Casey Kelly/KTOO
The winners of the 2013 Path to Prosperity business contest (left to right) Steve Helgeson, Kevin Skeek, Sue Tyler, and Wes Tyler.

5. Video: Pamunkey Tribe Steps Closer to Federal Recognition

Vincent Schilling
Assistant Chief Bob Gray, left, and Pumunkey Tribal Chief Kevin Brown have waited a long time to see their tribe gain federal recognition and now they are almost there.

6. Skokomish Call Hike From Homeland to the Coast a ‘Spiritual Experience’

Skokomish Nation
Skokomish Tribal Council member Terri Twiddy-Butler at high altitude on the ancestral trail in the southern Olympic Mountains. “It’s easy to forget where our ancestors gathered and hunted. When we get back on the trail, we experience what it was like for the ancestors,” she said.

7. ‘Zombee’ Apocalypse? Parasitic Infestation Found in Vermont Honeybees

Zombeewatch.org
A parasitic Apocephalus borealis fly injects eggs into a bee’s abdomen.

8. Family & Native Heritage Drive Wisconsin-Green Bay Hoops Star Tesha Buck

Wisconsin-Green Bay Athletics
Tesha Buck, No. 2., plays offense.

9. Billy Ray Cyrus Proposes Tipi Cure for Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber’s mug shot from the Miami Dade County Corrections Department.

10. OMAHA! Broncos QB Peyton Manning Receives Invitation from Tribe

Charlie Riedel, AP
In this Jan 19, 2014 file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning calls out a play during the second half of the AFC championship NFL playoff football game against the New England Patriots in Denver.

11. State Department Final Environment Report Says Keystone XL Impact Minimal


Zombie-like state caused by parasitic flies

Photo by fra-NCIS, flickr

ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. — Vermont beekeepers face mite infestations, extreme temperature swings and the possibility of colony collapse. Last fall, a new threat emerged: zombie bees.

Beekeeper Anthony Cantrell of Burlington discovered zombie bees in his hive in October, the first time they’d been found in the eastern United States.

John Hafernik, a professor from San Francisco State University, discovered the first zombie bees in 2008.

A fly called Apocephalus borealis attaches itself to the bee and injects its eggs, which grow inside the bee, Hafernik said. Scientists believe it causes neurological damage resulting in erratic, jerky movement and night activity, “like a zombie,” Hafernik said by phone Tuesday.

These aren’t undead bees doomed to roam for eternity. They often die only a few hours after showing symptoms, Hafernik said.

Hafernik and his team of colleagues and students have been tracking the zombie bee spread across the United States. California, Washington, Oregon and South Dakota all have confirmed zombie bees while this is the first time the bee has been found this far east, said Hafernik.

The fly previously attached to bumblebees as hosts, not honeybees, according to Hafernik.

“Right now, we don’t know if it’s an isolated thing,” Stephen Parise, Vermont agricultural production specialist, said Tuesday at the state’s annual farm show.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture hopes to use trapping to investigate the threat. Parise also told the Vermont Beekeeper Association that he expected more bee deaths this year due to wild temperature swings.

Chas Mraz, of Champlain Valley Apiaries, said mites, viruses and pesticides are bigger health issues for honeybees. A lack of nectar and pollen in a changing agricultural ecosystem focused more on corn and soybeans could affect bee immune systems, he said.

“There’s tremendous pressure on bees,” Mraz said. The apiary has been operating since 1931 and houses about 1,200 bee colonies. At peak population in good weather, that means over 60 million bees.

University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum, a top bee expert, agreed.
“It is seemingly kind of Biblical here,” she said. “We’re getting every conceivable kind of plague.”

Given the way bee populations have become so homogenized and how they are shipped cross country to aid in pollenating, the first Eastern infection of the zombie fly makes sense, Berenbaum said.

“It’s not surprising; it’s certainly not good news,” Berenbaum said. “There are so many pathogens and parasites that we’re aware of that are afflicting bees.”

New research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture released this month showed that a plant virus – tobacco ringspot virus – is now infecting commercial honeybees, Berenbaum said.

Leif Richardson, a doctoral student at Dartmouth College studies the interactions between plants, pollinators and parasites. Richardson said the fly involved in zombie bees could, besides using honeybees as hosts, potentially transmit viruses and pathogens.

Beekeepers “should definitely be concerned about it,” Richardson said.

Hafernik said it would be a “game changer” if these flies could hatch from dead bees and complete their life cycle inside the hive, something that most worries Cantrell.

“I think it would be another nail in the coffin for honeybees in the northern hemisphere,” Cantrell said.


A new suspect in bee deaths: the US government

As scientists race to pinpoint the cause of the global collapse of honey bee populations that pollinate a third of the world’s crops, environmental groups have indentified one culprit: US authorities who continue to approve pesticides implicated in the apian apocalypse.
Case in point: The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) conditional approval in May of sulfoxaflor, a type of agricultural pesticide known as a neonicotinoid. The European Union has banned neonicotinoids for two years in response to scientific studies linking their use to the sudden death of entire beehives, a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Over the past six years, CCD has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives worth $2 billion. Bee colonies in the US are so decimated that it takes 60% of the nation’s bee population to pollinate a single crop, California almonds. And that’s not just a local problem; California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds.
Now environmental and food safety groups are seeking to overturn the EPA’s green-lighting of neonicotinoids in a series of lawsuits that for the first time invoke the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect the bees. “EPA inadequately considered, or ignored entirely, sulfoxaflor’s harm to pollinators and the significant costs that harm will impose on the agricultural economy, food security, and natural ecosystems,” attorneys for the nonprofit Center for Food Safety and other groupsargued in a legal brief (PDF) filed in December in litigation aiming to revoke the approval of sulfoxaflor.

Another lawsuit filed in March in federal court in northern California by the Center for Food Safety asks a federal judge to overturn the EPA’s approval of two widely-used neonicotonioid pesticides called clothianidin and thiamethoxam.

Both cases argue that the EPA violated the ESA by failing to adequately consider the impact of the pesticides not just on honey bees but on a host of imperiled wildlife listed as threatened or endangered under federal law—from the Ohlone tiger beetle to the Quino checkerspot butterfly.

The ESA could prove a powerful weapon to wield on behalf of the bees. The law prohibits government agencies from taking any actions that could harm a protected species, requiring them to first consult with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). In the bee cases, environmental groups cite government records to show that the EPA did neither. “For at least one neonicotinoid insecticide, FWS scientists are on record stating ‘EPA is ignoring their duties with respect to consulting with FWS,’ ” the lawsuit states.

If the courts agree, approval of the pesticides could be at least temporarily revoked while the EPA consults with the wildlife agency and conducts a scientific study of the pesticides’ potential impact on protected species. The EPA maintains it properly approved the pesticides. But in August, the agency acknowledged the potentially deleterious impact of the pesticides when it said it would restrict the use of some neonicotinoids around bees.

The litigation also puts a human face on the bee story. Several of the plaintiffs are longtime beekeepers who have seen their decades-old businesses collapse alongside their beehives.

Colorado beekeeper Tom Theobald, for instance, is losing as much as 60% of his bee colonies annually to CCD, while a Florida beekeeper, Bill Rhodes, lost 80% his 9,000 beehives one year.

 


Destructive beetle found in 22 other states

emeraldashborer.info

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. —The invasive emerald ash borer beetle that’s killed millions of ash trees nationwide has been detected in eastern Massachusetts for the first time.

State environmental officials announced Monday that evidence of the shiny green insect native to Asia was detected in North Andover last month and confirmed by federal officials.

The tiny bugs have been detected in 22 states and were first found in Massachusetts earlier this year in Berkshire County.

Emerald ash borer larvae feed just below the bark and adults eat the leaves. Once the beetles hit a tree, it’s as good as dead within five years.

State officials say the goal now is to determine the extent of the North Andover infestation and contain it. That includes restricting the movement of hardwood products out of the area.

 


Bug common in Asia; first documented cases in United States

NEW YORK —The High Line, a park that turned a dilapidated stretch of elevated railway on Manhattan’s West Side into one of New York’s newest tourist attractions, may have brought a different kind of visitor: a cockroach that can withstand harsh winter cold and never seen before in the U.S.

Rutgers University insect biologists Jessica Ware and Dominic Evangelista said the species Periplaneta japonica is well documented in Asia but was never confirmed in the United States until now. The scientists, whose findings were published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, say it is too soon to predict the impact but that there is probably little cause for concern.

“Because this species is very similar to cockroach species that already exist in the urban environment,” Evangelista said, “they likely will compete with each other for space and for food.”

That competition, Ware said, will likely keep the population low, “because more time and energy spent competing means less time and energy to devote to reproduction.”

Michael Scharf, a professor of urban entomology at Purdue University, said the discovery is something to monitor.

“To be truly invasive, a species has to move in and take over and out-compete a native species,” he said. “There’s no evidence of that, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned about it.”

The newcomer was first spotted in New York in 2012, by an exterminator working on the High Line.

The scientists suspect the little critter was likely a stowaway in the soil of ornamental plants used to adorn the park. “Many nurseries in the United States have some native plants and some imported plants,” Ware said. “It’s not a far stretch to picture that that is the source.”

Periplaneta japonica has special powers not seen in the local roach population: It can survive outdoors in the freezing cold.

“There has been some confirmation that it does very well in cold climates, so it is very conceivable that it could live outdoors during winter in New York,” Ware said. “I could imagine japonica being outside and walking around, though I don’t know how well it would do in dirty New York snow.”

The likelihood that the new species will mate with the locals to create a hybrid super-roach is slim.

“The male and female genitalia fit together like a lock and key, and that differs by species,” Evangelista says. “So we assume that one won’t fit the other.”