Archive for beneficial insect

“Bees and Pollination. How important is it?”

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“Bees and Pollination. How important is it?”

 Emma Brasseaux, Beauregard Parish 4-H’er

 Editor’s Note: Emma’s essay is an entry in the 2016 4-H Honey Bee Essay contest, and it posted on this blog. Best Wishes to Emma!

As the honey bee flies along Highway 171 in Beauregard Parish, Crimson Red Clovers cover the median like a soft blanket. Along the backroads, Indian Blanket, Tick Seed Coreopsis, blackberries and dewberries abundantly provide pollen for the honey bees to do their job, which is to pollinate all of our vegetables, flowers and trees.

In additional to pollen being an important part nature’s survival, bee pollen has lots of health benefits as well. It is wonderful for natural allergy relief and is responsible for the many health benefits of raw honey. Bee pollen is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids and fatty acids, enzymes, carotenoids and bioflavonoids, making it an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agent that strengthens the capillaries, reduces inflammation, stimulates the immune system and lowers cholesterol levels naturally. [1]

While our native plants are in bloom, roadsides are not cut or sprayed as to allow the honey bees to gather and spread pollen. The Kisatchie National Forest is also home to many native plants that remain untouched and are a good source of pollen for the honey bees. Also in Southwest Louisiana, beekeeping associations have been formed. These associations provide support and knowledge to veteran beekeepers as well as those interested in just starting the process. A Facebook page has also been set up where people can find out what is going on in the world of beekeeping as well as news relating to the welfare of bees.

In my interviews with local beekeepers, I learned that the honey bees and their habitats need our protection. Some of the things that have been put into action in Louisiana are “Bee Aware” flags to help identify hive locations next to an agriculturally managed crop or area and the exchange of contact information to promote open communication among landowners, farmers, applicators of pesticides and beekeepers. Beekeepers also use hive identification and hive GPS locations as a way of providing information to farmers and pesticide applicators. All of these programs were designed to help all beekeepers to protect the honey bees.

Pastor Langstroth had an instinctive love for bees and was one of the first honey bee protectors. He discovered that the size of the frames needed to be 3/8 of an inch to protect the honey bees from disease and moths. [2] He took the guesswork out of beekeeping and continued to Americanize beekeeping throughout his life. We must continue to work towards protecting the existing habitats and strive to promote the beekeeping industry, not only in our community but in our state and country as well.

We need our honey bees to keep our agricultural economy alive. Are you aware that one of every three mouthfuls of the foods you enjoy depends on pollination by honey bees and other insects? [3]Can you imagine what we would do if we didn’t have those little helpers flying around pollinating all of our plants for us? Without honey bees to spread pollen, the abundance of fruits, vegetables, nuts and plants will decline causing prices to go up. This will affect all people throughout our country. We need to make all people aware of how serious this could be if we do not take immediate action to SAVE OUR HONEY BEES AND THEIR HABITATS!

[1] http://draxe.com/bee-pollen/?utm_campaign=Article-Jan-2015&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&utm_term=bee

[2]https://books.google.com/books/about/Bees_in_America.html?id=_Ir0f4v6ctsC&source=kp_read&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button#v=onepage&q&f=false

[3] http://www.lsuagcenter.com/nr/rdonlyres/e7a3c920-bf81-4dc3-abdd-4675b5082ce7/104871/3478_louisiana_pollinator.pdf

Bibliography:

Hawkins, Keith. Personal Interview. 1-20-2016

Hebert, Richard. Hebert Honey Farm. Personal Interview 1-30-2016

Horn, Tammy. Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation. University Press of Kentucky, 2005

LSU AgCenter. Cooperative Standards Adopted by Louisiana Pollinator Cooperative Conservation program (LPCCP) Pub. 3478 November 2015

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“Comparison Between Leaf-Footed Bug and Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymphs”

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Comparison Between Leaf-Footed Bug and Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymphs

 By George  Giltner,  Advanced. Master Gardener

Probably the last thing a gardener would want to do is kill off a beneficial insect, like the milkweed assassin bug, that is controlling pests ( flies, mosquitoes, caterpillars, cucumber beetles, the Asian  citrus psyllid, aphids, army worms, and other prey 6x their size).  The milkweed assassin bug is the common predator that is effective in our landscape and vegetable gardens.  Therefore its similar identity in the nymph stages to leaf-footed bug nymphs needs to be distinguished.

2015 leaf footed bug nymph

Harmful insect: a nymph of the leaf-footed bug, Photo by Lyle J. Buss, U. Florida

2015 MW Assassin bug

Beneficial Insect: a nymph of the milkweed assassin bug, Megha Kalsi, U. Florida

From looking at the above photos, the casual observer probably will not be able to distinguish between the two nymphs.  The juvenile insect in the top image will attack apples, blueberries, blackberries, cowpeas, cucurbits, eggplants, okra, tomatoes, pecans, hibiscus, etc.

The MW assassin bug nymph in the bottom image is a desirable predator to have in the garden.  Therefore you would definitely not want to bring out a broad range pesticide to kill what may or may not be a harmful bug, unless you are certain of the identification.

There are a few behavioral characteristics that may help.  The assassin bugs are usually loners that are observed sneaking up and “assassinating” their prey.  If you get near them, they may rare-up on long thin legs and extend their proboscis (nose) forward.  Also carefully observe the surrounding vegetation for assassin bugs that have captured prey.  Their proboscis has injected digestive enzymes into the prey for liquefaction, which does take time. Handling the latter nymphs and adults can result in a nasty bite.  So, be careful in capturing these bugs for children. A positive ID at the LSU AgCenter is recommended.  The preferable method is to take a close-up photo with a digital camera or a newer cell phone.

The nymphs of the leaf-footed bugs usually stay together to attack plants in packs that may include adults, and other pest-bugs.  A joint pest-effort in overcoming the plants defense system is typically seen on unhealthy plants. The proboscis will be kept under the belly of the bug. It never goes forward like the assassin bug’s exhibit.

The message is to make an effort to ID and keep the beneficial bugs, for they are the balance in the ecosystem of your garden or ornamentals.  Killing all bugs in a wide-spread area throws this system out of balance in favor of the pests that have the quicker and more abundant reproductive cycles.

 

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