Posts Tagged ‘Guess Who’

Who’s Who #3

Germany’s got it, Sweden’s got it, Belgium’s got it.  And no one is admitting responsibility for the Escherichia coli outbreak, not surprising.  Fingers point quickly to Spain, but the original source is still to be determined.  E. coli, the mystery organism from Wednesday, has a new strain that is sweeping Europe and wrecking havoc.  So far, it has only been cucumbers, lettuce, and tomatoes that have been reported as potential sources of contamination.  But many are shying away from any raw fruits or vegetables just to be cautious.

Such outbreaks are a major concern for the agricultural industry.  Produce contamination is a serious health concern and often results in a recall of particular meat products or certain kinds of produce.  In such cases, traceability is key to finding the source of contamination, which can occur at any point from farm to table.  Once identified, steps are taken to minimize further distribution and spread.

More benign sources of E. coli are found in the intestine of warm blooded animals, like humans, and can be beneficial to its host by producing vitamin K.  With all the bad rap, it’s important to note that this bacteria is naturally occurring in a non-virulent form.

Guess Who Wednesday #3

It’s mid-week and my second consecutive full day in the field.  I’m not complaining.  I enjoy it immensely, but it is a tiring 8-6 day.  And that’s not counting my commute.  So it seems this Guess Who Wednesday is a good option when you’re a busy graduate student.

Today I ask, what is this a picture of?  Hint: it has been in the news recently.

Who’s Who #2

That cute little critter from Wednesday is a pest of the plant below!

If you’ve never seen asparagus growing in a field, this is what it looks like (picture was taken about a week ago in western New York).  It’s asparagus season, and in fact I had some deliciously prepared asparagus at a tapas restaurant in town last night.  My favorite preparation of asparagus is quite simple.  I arrange the stalks on a baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil, squeeze some lemon juice over them, sprinkle a bit of garlic powder and pepper, then bake for about 30 minutes at 375º until tender but crisp.

Wednesday’s bug is the spotted asparagus beetle, Criocercis duodecimpunctata.  Here’s our spotlight pest on the crop itself.

Photo courtesy of Insect Images

The beetles are quite small, about 6-8mm in length.  Spotted asparagus beetles are in the family Chrysomelidae and may resemble ladybugs to the untrained eye.  It is distinguished from ladybugs by the six spots on each wing with longer antennae and an almost rectangular shape.  (Ladybugs tend to be more oval or almost totally round with similar but varying coloration.)  This particular species of asparagus beetle is often considered a secondary pest of asparagus, with the asparagus beetle Criocercis asparagi the most common pest (below).

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Both these pests directly damage the asparagus crop by feeding on tips and spears.  Furthermore, C. duodecimpunctata feed on the asparagus berries of the male plant.  Cutting stalks close to the ground is a good way to manage for asparagus beetle, not allowing larvae to establish in the crop.  Removing dead stalks over winter can also help reduce success of overwintering populations.  Particularly for the spotted asparagus beetle, removing asparagus berries can help reduce pest populations in home gardens.

Now that the weather has finally warmed up, it’s time to get working on the summer garden.  As soon as these thunderstorms let the soil dry up.  Happy gardening!

Guess Who Wednesday #2

Who is this little critter?  Hint: it’s a crop pest.

Who’s Who #1

For those of you who can’t make it through the whole post, the answer is… Insect 2- the Emerald Ash Borer!  If you see this little beetle crawling around, please see this site to report your sighting to the appropriate contact.  Now, on to the other critters!

Insect 1

Photo courtesy of Philip Rose

This particular specimen from Thailand is commonly known as the Jewel Beetle, in the family Buprestidae. Individuals in this family are commonly known as the metallic wood borers and are known for their iridescent color.  The coloration is not pigment, but rather structural coloration that will not fade with time.  As such, they are often used as adornments and frequently collected.  There are 53 genera of Buprestidae in North America, but not all shiny green buprestids are of concern!

Insect 2

Photo courtesy of Insect Images

This is who you should be looking for!  If you see this critter running around, head the other way!  No, not really.  Make sure to report your suspicion to the appropriate Cooperative Extension office found here under “Contact Info.”

This is the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire.  Like Insect 1, this is another beetle (order Coleoptera) in the Buprestidae family.  One of the distinguishing characteristics of the EAB is its elongate and cylindrical shape, unlike the other Buprestids.  They are bright metallic green, occasionally with reddish or bronze tones as well.  They are usually around 10mm in size.

This particular species is a concern because it is an introduced species from Asia causing damage to ash trees in Eastern North America.  Severe infestations cause branch dieback and can eventually kill the tree in just a few years. Biological control agents have been explored, concentrating primarily on parasitoid wasps.  Research is currently still being conducted and these biological control agents are still being evaluated for efficacy.  For more information about the state of native bio control agents see here.  For bio control agents native to Asia see here.  Pathogenic fungi and nematodes are also being considered.  Currently, the best preventative measure is to reduce the movement of infested material, including moving firewood.

Insect 3

Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Butterflies

The six spotted tiger beetle Cincindela sexguttata is a beetle in the family Cicindelidae and are found all over the world.  These beetles are aggressive predators that run really really fast.  One of their identifying characteristics is their protruding eyes, that classic “bug-eyed” look.  While found in similar regions as the EAB, it’s long legs and protruding eyes help to identify it is not of concern.

Insect 4

Photo Courtesy of Flicker

This is the red-legged buprestid beetle, Buprestis rufipes. While in the same family of beetles as the EAB, the yellow markings are a good way to distinguish between the two species.

Long post after a long onion-planting day…whoo! More on that later.  Thanks for sticking around!