Bug Archives: flowers

Scientists Develop Product To Keep Pesky Birds At Bay

Ken Ballinger of Arkion Life Sciences holds corn seeds covered with a bird repellent.

NEW CASTLE — Scarecrows Beware!

Scientists at a New Castle startup have discovered an animal-friendly harvest-helper that they hope will help farmers chase away hungry birds for good.

It’s called Avipel, and its active ingredient, an old molecule named anthraquinone, provides the red in rhubarb, pigmentation in paint and color in dyes. That same naturally occurring compound is being used in a formulation patented by Arkion Life Sciences.
In one form, it protects cornfields from ravaging cranes, crows and blackbirds. In another, it keeps troublesome Canada geese off lawns and golf courses.

“Our (product) doesn’t kill anything,” said Ken Ballinger, vice president of development of Avipel and Flight Control Plus, the goose repellent. “Our feeling is let’s not take the life of an animal or a single cell if we don’t need to get the same results of saving our crops without killing our birds.”

For a bird gorging on corn seed or a lawn, the trouble starts with an upset stomach and ends in a decision to forage for food elsewhere.
“It’s not really a taste,” said Earnest Porta, president and chief executive officer. “It’s a very strong gut reaction. The environmentalists love it.”

The former DuPont employees developed technologies in agriculture and, in 1997, bought a cluster of small businesses jointly owned by DuPont and ConAgra. By 2001, they had formed Arkion Life Sciences with 15 employees in Delaware and another 15 leading a biotech research team in Wisconsin.

“We sold off the commodity pieces and took the technology businesses out to become Arkion Life Sciences,” Ballinger said. “The money allowed us to pay off banks and venture capitalists.”

“And we’ve been very selective in what we’ve done, so we’ve been our own cash generator, using that money to grow our business,” Porta added. “The bulk of it is in agriculture. We’re also in animal nutrition, but the seed piece is the fastest-growing.”
On the farm, giant tumblers mix corn seed with Avipel at 100 pounds per minute before it is planted. Recently, the firm expanded its application to sunflower and rice seed.

So far, 18 states, including Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York, have approved the treatment under emergency labeling. Arkion is optimistic the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will approve the crop protector for everyday use by late 2013. Until then, it’s a state-by-state approval.

While Flight Control is already approved, the EPA is assessing the food tolerance level of Avipel before approving use beyond emergencies. Ballinger said it will be tested in two areas: Is it safe to be eaten? And at what concentration is there no effect to human health?

“Flight Control can sell millions of product, whereas Avipel, that’s a product that can sell tens of millions,” Ballinger said.

In 2006, Avipel was approved for emergency use in Wisconsin after a petition was filed in desperation because crops were being destroyed. The EPA allowed its use, and soon after, Michigan and Minnesota followed.

In Wisconsin, cranes were seeking out corn seed as a source of liquid starch needed for reproduction. Those same cranes and their voracious appetites were wreaking havoc in cornfields, swallowing 800 seeds a day. During three weeks, they devastated a half acre. Juvenile flocks hit the fields at dusk, and by dawn, farmers had lost entire fields, Ballinger said.

“People are trying it out this year in Delaware,” Ballinger said of a state that planted 190,000 acres of corn this year. Arkion’s product covers 15,000 acres, or eight percent.
Arkion expects that will soon double.

In Delaware, blackbirds and crows are the main offenders.
A single blackbird eats about an ounce of seed a day. A flock of 272 can eat an acre’s worth, Ballinger said.

“And crows eat more than that,” he said.
“The typical introduction of the product is when farmers will protect a portion of their fields to test out the effectiveness,” Ballinger said.

Avipel is sold to distributors who sell it to farmers. It costs $4-$7 per acre.
The firm’s first product — Flight Control Plus — is sprayed on turf to deter pesky Canada geese, which produces two pounds a day of waste.

The bird repellent is in use at about seven locations in Delaware and is applied by lawn care services, including TruGreen.

Spidermites On Your Indoor And Outdoor Plants?

The spidermite is a very common garden pest that can cause serious damage to your indoor or outdoor vegetable garden. These microscopic spiders are found on the underside of leaves. They extract fluids vital to your plants’ survival from the leaves, leaving noticeable traces of yellowish white spots, known as stippling, on the top side of the leaves. Further inspection of your plants should reveal tiny spider webs on stems and leaves. If you mist your plants, before inspection, it will make the webs easier to detect.

With very simple, preventative measures you can spidermite proof your indoor garden by making the living conditions inhospitable. Spidermites thrive in dry (20%-30% humidity), warm (70-80 degrees F) conditions. In temperatures above 80 degrees F, spidermites can reproduce in as little as 5 days, making early detection a necessity.

In order to make the environment uncomfortable for them, before and during the onset of an infestation, use a humidifier to raise the humidity in the room to around 50%-60% humidity and cool the room, with an air conditioner, to below 60 degrees F. This cool, moist air should drive away any spidermites. Outdoors, it is impossible to control the environment, so in case of an infestation insecticidal soaps, pyrethrum sprays and pyrethrin(all described later) should be used to keep an outdoor spidermite infestation in check. Always remember the best preventative measure you can take is checking your plants on a regular basis(every 2-3 days).

Mother’s Day Is Just 5 Days Away, Don’t Forget Her Flowers And Leave Out The Mites!!

Getting the bugs out — literally — of Mother’s Day flowers at LAX

By Art Marroquin, Staff Writerdailybreeze.com

The last thing any mom wants next weekend is a pest.

To keep that from happening, federal authorities are preparing for Mother’s Day by scrutinizing an estimated 40 million flowers for bugs, eggs and larvae hiding in shipments coming from South America, Asia and Australia.

“If you ask any mother who tries to grow flowers in her garden, you’ll always hear about having to deal with the insects,” said Jaime Ruiz, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“We don’t want anyone’s mom to deal with that for Mother’s Day.”

Armed with magnifying glasses and tweezers, the CBP’s trained group of agricultural specialists constantly search for unusual signs of disease or clues that mites, thrips, miner flies and other critters are feeding on lush shipments arriving at Los Angeles International Airport.

More flowers arrive in the United States for Mother’s Day than any other holiday, followed by Valentine’s Day, Ruiz said. Los Angeles handles 15 to 20 percent of the nation’s blooms, making it the second-busiest flower importer after Miami.

“Sometimes we don’t find anything, but finding something new to us is pretty exciting,” said Yaan Cheng, who has worked the past four years as a CBP inspector at LAX.

On Monday morning, Cheng grabbed a rose bouquet that had just arrived from Ecuador, flipped it upside down and gave it a strong shake.

Loose petals, leaves and other dry remnants scattered onto a white table as he reached for a pair of tweezers and plucked a twitching mite.

Cheng gingerly placed the insect into an alcohol-filled glass vial that will be examined to determine whether it is already established in the United States.

If the insect isn’t already present, then the entire shipment of flowers is sent back, destroyed or treated with chemical pesticides.

“One little bug that isn’t from here could wreak havoc in the agricultural sector,” Ruiz said.

The flowers arrive in the belly of passenger jetliners, and then are whisked to massive cold-storage units housed inside nearby warehouses.

Nearly 3.5 million flowers arrived last weekend from New Zealand, Ecuador and Colombia for inspection at Gourmet Logistics Co., which has a cavernous refrigeration unit that’s kept at a brisk zero to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

The petals are kept in fresh condition until they are ready for distribution to West Coast flower shops and supermarkets, said Andy Iturrizaga, business relations manager for Gourmet Logistics Co.

It’s a great business,” Iturrizaga said. “Especially at this time of the year.”

http://www.dailybreeze.com/business/ci_20567745/getting-bugs-out-literally-mothers-day-flowers-at

Spring Time Means Planting Season, But What About Those Pesky Spider Mites!!!

What Are Spider Mites?

Spider mites are a member of the mite family. They generally live on the bottom sides of leaves of plants. They may spin protective silk webs around your plants, this is how they got the ‘spider’ part of their name. Spider mites are less than 1 millimetre (0.04 in) in size and vary in color. They lay small, spherical, initially transparent eggs. Spider mites are known to feed on several hundred species of plants, causing damage by puncturing the plant cells to feed. This is not good news to those of you out there who were hoping to have a nice garden this season.

Life Cycle And Your Plants

Hot, dry conditions are often associated with population build-up of spider mites. Under ideal conditions (approximately 80 °F), the two-spotted spider mite can hatch in as little as 3 days, and become sexually mature in as little as 5 days. One female can lay up to 20 eggs per day and can live for 2 to 4 weeks, laying hundreds of eggs. A single mature female can spawn a population of a million mites in a month or less. This accelerated reproductive rate allows spider mite populations to adapt quickly. Within 2 weeks of growing plants if you are not careful in taking the proper measures for eliminating spider mites it may be too late. You want to attack them quickly before they reproduce to millions. A problem with mites is that they adapt to their environment quickly, including building immunities to chemical sprays.

Natural Spider Mite Eliminators?

You can try drenching the plants leaves in water, which may or may not work or you can try a homemade spider mite spray.

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 drops dish detergent
  • 1/2 tsp epsom salts

Take a cup of very hot water and dissolve the salts, place all other ingredients in a spray bottle , add the salt and fill with 48oz water. Shake well and get your spray on. The best method is to cover soil with plastic, spray all over, especially under the leaves. Wait 20 minutes, then spray with clean water shaking as much water off the plant as you can. The clean water will remove the solution and hopefully the remains of the mites and their eggs. You may need to repeat, but keeping this on hand will be useful for the mites that may reappear or reproduce.

 

Spring Is Here, The Flowers Are Blooming And The Insects Are Swarming

Now that spring is here the insects that have over wintered become active and swarm again, especially ants and termites, but they are not the only pests. Over the next few weeks you will see lots of insects making there way back into the world to join us in the beautiful days to come.

  • Moisture is a main component of the spring. Heavy rains, water from snow runoff and rising ground water levels can lead to damp basements.
  • Roof leaks, leaky skylights and water leaking around windows are all common places where carpenter ants go to nest in search of water.
  • Ground water provides moisture for termites and other crawling insects. As mentioned earlier, termites swarm in spring.
  • Carpenter bees are active, taking pollen from shrubs and plants and transporting it back to their nests – drilled, half-inch holes often found on garages and other areas around the home with an accumulation of sawdust and pollen around the hole.