Archive for the ‘Entomology’ Category

Passalid beetles: Nature’s efficient lignocellulosic biorefineries | Brodie Environmental Microbiology Group @ LBNL

One of my good friends from grad school now studied passalid beetles at the University of Kentucky.  While she’s interested in cooperation and sociality, it just so happens that passalids are of interest to another group of researchers.

Dr. Eoin Brodie works at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and is also an assistant adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (whew, that’s a mouthful).

One of their research projects is to understand how these beetles might optimize biofuel production by studying the beetle’s symbiotic gut relationships.  Let’s hear it for my alma mater!

Passalid beetles: Nature’s efficient lignocellulosic biorefineries | Brodie Environmental Microbiology Group @ LBNL.

 

Track #Swarmageddon

And the cicadas return…check out this great post on The Two-Way from NPR about RadioLab’s quest to track the emergence!

via It’s Almost Cicada Time! Help Radiolab Track #Swarmageddon : The Two-Way : NPR.

Spring Awakening

It’s finally snowing in Ithaca, just in time for spring! While the winter weather sends many of us into hibernation, perhaps we can appreciate the emergence of a giant stick insect, Dryococelus australis.  Here’s a video of it emerging from an egg.  Presumed extinct in the 1960s from its native Lord Howe Island, these giant insects have been found and are now being successfully bred in captivity.  Hooray science!

For the full coverage, check out Krulwich Wonder’s blog post for today.

Marco…

Polo!  We found it!  The lost ladybug!  After decades of elusiveness, the nine-spotted ladybug, Coccinella novemnotata, state insect of New York, has been on a Long Island organic farm.

Crazier and Hairier

They’re crazy and hairy and they’ve received a lot of press lately in the news and the blogosphere… ANTS!  These ones, Nylanderia pubens, seem to be quite a nuisance to those living in the southern parts of the United States.  They’re, well, crazy, and hairy.

As you can see in the video above, they move very quickly and can deliver a nasty bite.  They exhibit super colony characteristics (like the Argentine ant), meaning they are not aggressive toward other colonies.  If there’s a silver lining this the dark cloud, it’s that they may outcompete fireants.  Oh yeah, and they tend membracids!

Photo Courtesy of Mississippi Entomological Museum

Revival

What’s the opposite of over-wintering?  I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve been on hiatus and it is finally time to emerge post-field season.  Wahoo!

A short and sweet update today before I rush off to do graduate student things like take exams (wait, I thought those weren’t applicable anymore?).  The beauty of subscribing to a daily email about Good things happening in the world: keeping up on bee trends!  If you’re into beekeeping or an aspiring beekeeper like me, check out this article about modifying urban hives.

Leek Moth

The best part about an online magazine, is that they send you emails only if you want them.  And in the case of Saveur, I get tasty recipes to try on a regular basis.  Last week, a number of recipes for a Summer Vegetarian Feast filled my email inbox.  One was a delicious leek and zucchini galette, combining great flavor and seasonality.

There are leeks growing alongside my onions in some fields.  Some of the growers I work with have a few different Allium species growing including garlic and leek.  These crops could be subject to leek moth infestation, but leek moth is currently only known in certain areas of New York and Canada (in North America).  An invasive species from Europe, leek moth,  Acrolepiopsis assectella, is a small, brown to black moth with yellow-green caterpillars.  The pupae are small cocoons with a distinct lacy casing.

Adult Leek Moth courtesy of AgroAtlas

Leek moth pupal casing

Leek moth damage include mining and perforations in the leaf, with window-paning damage where the caterpillar has not eaten all the way through all layers of the leaf tissue.

Leek moth damage

While there are no chemical treatments yet in New York, cultural treatments such as crop rotation, row covers, and removing vegetative debris at the end of the season are recommended.  In Canada, a parasitoid wasp  Diadromus pulchellus was released as a biological control agent as part of an integrated pest management approach to control leek moth.  Perhaps that may be an option for leek moth control here as well.