Archive for insects

“Bees and Pollination. How important is it?”

4hcloverNewLSUAC-0214-CMYK-O

“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

Comments (1) »

SW LA Beekeepers Association: “Common Mistakes of a Beginning Beekeeper & How to Avoid Them”

SWLABA logoNewLSUAC-0214-CMYK-O

SW LA Beekeepers Association: “Common Mistakes of a Beginning Beekeeper & How to Avoid Them”

Monday, January 4th, 2016, War Memorial Civic Center, 250 West 7th St., DeRidder, LA

          Mr. James Laughlin, East Texas Beekeepers, will be discussing the mistakes that new beekeepers make and how to avoid them.

Another reason to attend this meeting is to learn more about having bees by asking experienced beekeepers for advice. For more information, please contact Keith Hawkins, County Agent, 337-463-7006. Also, you may also obtain regular “beemail” updates about beekeeping by sending your request by email to khawkins@agcenter.lsu.edu.

 

Leave a comment »

Wasp Stings – A Significant Medical Risk

NewLSUAC-0214-CMYK-O MasGarTM5x7_w85[1]

 

Wasp Stings – A Significant Medical Risk

By George Giltner, Adv. Master Gardener

The social wasps, paper wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, red wasps, etc., in the U.S. account for more fatalities than any other venomous animal (1). Approximately 0.5 to 4.0% is prone to “immediate hypersensitivity reactions” including life-threatening anaphylaxis. Most deaths occur within a few minutes to hours from the initial sting. Constricting of airways and throat swelling cause respiratory failure or cardiovascular collapse occurs due to a rapid drop in blood pressure (2). Therefore these stings can be quite serious.

The hot days of summer bring on numerous encounters with wasps, usually from 10 am until 6 pm. Recently, I was venturing up a ladder to the second story of my barn while a flurry of paper wasps suddenly zipped around. Needless to say, the climb became a rapid descent, then a run. One nest was on the second ladder step, and the other was at the 8-foot level. I was lucky to avoid a sting as the pheromones signal other wasps that they should also participate. Wasps are not like bees with a barbed stinger that can only be used once. Wasps have a smooth stinger that can be injected multiple times.

Wasp’s sting venom is a complex mixture of multiple compounds including proteins, peptides, enzymes and other molecules. However we can examine some of the major components to understand the medical effect of a sting (3):

  1. Acetylcholine – increases stimulation of pain nerves. Very high in hornet stings.
  2. Noradrenaline – causes constriction of blood vessels resulting in high blood pressure.
  3. Histamine – causes pain and itching. Chemical released during an allergic response.
  4. Wasp kinin – large portion of wasp venom, but it has not been understood completely.
  5. Phospholipase A – destroys cells and is a strong allergen.
  6. Phospholipase B – like A, but also used to paralyze prey.
  7. Hyaluronidase – breaks down cell walls and allows penetration of venom into tissue.
  8. Serotonin – causes irritation and pain
  9. Alarm pheromones – causes same species to attack nearby threats

The best treatment of a sting is the application of antihistamine creams, which reduces further inflammation (3). Benadryl (diphenhydramine) has proven to aid itching and rash (1). Ice soothes pain issues and reduces swelling. Wash the sting site. Continue to observe and be prepared to treat the site for bacterial infections for days afterward.

Most home remedies do not work. However it is correct that bee venom has acidic components, and wasp stings have alkaline components, but the venom quickly penetrates tissue. Therefore adding a topical treatment of alkaline (like baking soda) or acidic (like vinegar) will not be helpful. A “ chaw of tobacco” and other folk cures are also not effective. If someone is stung, it is wise to move the person into a cool environment with observers. If any allergic symptoms arise, or if the person is known to have previous allergic responses to stings, get immediate medical attention (1).

 

 

  1. www.emedicine.medscape.com
  2. www.extension.entm.purdue.edu/publichealth/insects/stinging
  3. www.compoundchem.com/chemical-composition-of-insect-Venoms.

Leave a comment »

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

NewLSUAC-0214-CMYK-OMasGarTM5x7_w85[1]

 

By: Emily Shirley, President, Beauregard Master Gardeners Assoc.

Happy June!  If you live in the South, you know what we do in June and it does not necessarily have anything to do with gardening.  We prepare for hurricane season.  This month’s newsletter will toss in a little reminder of things to do for this season.  As with all our newsletters, we publish with the new gardener in mind, while also reminding seasoned gardeners of things they already know. 

 

This month we give you articles on composting and even share that now not-so-secret “Master Gardener soil recipe” developed by Advanced Master Gardener, George Giltner.  And you say, what else is there to learn about composting?  It really is science and I am one of those people that have to let science soak in.  Composting really is such an important topic not only for the home gardener, but for everyone involved in tending the earth and growing crops, whether you live on thousands of acres or on a tiny plot. If you are going to garden, “it all starts with the soil.” 

Soil must be replenished. And adding compost, (organic matter), is how soil is replenished. There is no substitute for adding back organic matter to your soil.  If you are gardening and you aren’t composting, make it a resolution to start a compost pile, or two or three, somewhere in your garden area. You’ll be a better gardener and have better soil too.

 

The AgCenter has been getting calls about these “tiny worms” that are coming inside the home so we are also sharing information on these “Millipedes”.  And, oh the confusion between the leaf-footed bug and the milkweed assassin –we will try to clear that up for you too. 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). 

 

We know that next to tomatoes and peppers, the next vegetable that most gardeners always grow is squash.  But growing squash means there are many questions to ask about what is going on when you do have issues.  The article “Six Reasons Squash Fails and What to Do About It” will hopefully help you with all your squash issues. 

Emily

 

 

Leave a comment »

Alternatives to Toxic Insecticides

Alternatives to Toxic Insecticides

By George Giltner, Adv. Master Gardener, MS Biology

A third study now validates results of earlier research of associations between autism and prenatal exposure to agriculture chemicals (www.ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1307044/).  “Women who are pregnant should take care to avoid contact with agricultural chemicals whenever possible” says author, Janie F. Shelton who is now a consultant with the U.N.

Three groups of common pesticides were studied that included organophosphates (chlorpyrifos, acephate, diazinon, and others), pyrethroids (esfenvalerate, lambda-cypermethrin, taufluvalinate, and others), and carbamates (methomyl, carbaryl, and others). The organophosphates were associated with an elevated risk of autism spectrum disorder, especially chlorpyrifos applications in the second trimester. Pyrethroids had a moderate association with autism spectrum disorder immediately prior to conception and in the third trimester. Carbamates were associated with developmental delays.

The present rate of autism is now at 1:68 births according to estimates from the CDC.  Also about 1 in 6 children in the United States had a developmental disability in 2006-2008. In the birth year of 1992, the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder was 1 in 150, which has steadily increased to 1 in 68 in the 2002 birth year.

Therefore as gardeners, we should always use the least toxic chemicals, read labels, follow all safety precautions, and keep up with the latest research concerning pest control.

The good news is that more and more information is available on less toxic pesticides.  Clemson Cooperative Extension has an outstanding article on “Less Toxic Insecticides” which conscientious gardeners should print out (www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic).  “Most essential oils used as pesticides work by disrupting an insect neurotransmitter that is not present in people, pets, or other vertebrates.” The EPA no longer requires approval for use as pesticides due to minimum risk to uses of these essential oils (cedar, cinnamon, citronella, citrus, clove, garlic, mints, rosemary and others).

Microbial insecticides include Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) for caterpillar control.  Milky Spore (Bacillus papillae and lentimorbus) is used against June bug larvae – grub worms. Spinosad, Saccharopolyspora spinosa is a treatment for fire ants, caterpillars, thrips, whiteflies, aphids, and even borers of fruit trees. Beneficial nematodes are the good nematodes that control clearwing borers, cutworms, sod webworms, mole crickets, and grub worms.  However nematodes are difficult to get started due to humidity, moisture, shipping, and temperature issues.

Bacillus subtilis and pumilus combat downy and powdery mildews, rust, bacterial spot, blight, botrytis and multiple other mildews on veggies, fruits, ornamentals, trees, and shrubs.

Minerals like boric acid acts as a stomach poison which causes the insects to die from starvation.  Diatomaceous Earth controls slugs, millipedes, ants, cockroaches, and soft-bodied insects like aphids. However use the “natural grade”, not the swimming pool filtering-agent that poses an inhalation hazard.  Sodium Fluoaluminate has sharp edges which punctures insect (caterpillars, sawflies, beetles, etc.) gut cells from consuming leafy material, however beneficial insects are not affected since they are not leaf eaters.  Iron phosphate is used as an organic slug and snail bate.  It is not poisonous to cats and dogs.

“Organic Farm and Garden” 2013, Vol.1, 2nd Ed., lists Biological Control Options which incorporates predator and prey functions in every ecosystem.  Plant nectar sources attract beneficial insects, and allow them to lay eggs near this food source.  Plant small flower favorites like dill, parsley, fennel oregano, cilantro, and thyme.  Also include annuals like sunflowers, cosmos, amaranth, alyssum and statice.  Perennials like yarrow, tansy, daises and angelica can be inter-planted within your garden.  Your beautiful garden will buzz with beneficial insects, and will have an ecological balance of predator and prey bugs.

“Louisiana Gardener”, Feb. 2015, has a super article, “What’s Bugging You?” by Cindy Shapton.  She puts emphasis on learning good bugs and bad bugs. Numerous recipes for repellants to easy to make sticky-traps are highlighted.

“The Naturally Bug-free Garden”, 2012, by Anna Hess is now available at Amazon.  It focuses on the worst garden pests that we have here and in Texas, and gives organic control measures.  Good bugs and good animals are reviewed and used to make your garden a living balance of natural defenses.  Resistant varieties, row covers, companion planting, and plant nutrition are tools for helping plants resist insects.  This is a good book to assist the beginner and young gardeners in learning about organic gardening.  It is a treasure!

So this year, learn, read, and experiment with organic chemical-free gardening to avoid potentially dangerous chemicals that are used in commercial agriculture.

Leave a comment »

Winter Bee Journal by Jimmy Earl Cooley

SWLABA logoNewLSUAC-0214-CMYK-O

Winter Bee Journal by Jimmy Earl Cooley

JEC BEE HIVES

I inspected my three beehives today and did not get stung!  It was near 62 degrees at 3:30pm, sunny, with no wind. Opened primarily to add food and cursory inspection.

My three hives are Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Apiary Registration Permit XX-XXX, effective October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015.

The hives names are Hebert, Shirley, and Carollyn; with Hebert and Carollyn born from splitting the Shirley last spring.  The Shirley hive was my strongest hive back then so I took several frames (honey, brood, queen cells) and divvied frames between two new brood boxes named Hebert and Carollyn.  Later added a second brood box with empty frames to each of three hives.

Inspection:

Carollyn

Two brood boxes with inner cover and top cover.  Later added a second brood box with empty frames to each of three hives.  Located 200 yards from Shirley and Hebert.

The hive was not very active, only a few bees entering and leaving the small entrance hole.  Put puff of smoke in entrance hole and under the raised top cover, waited 5 minutes and removed top and inner cover.  Observed a small number of small hive beetles but bees were calm and did not bother me. There were very few in upper box but could hear lots of activity in lower box.  Did not remove frames from upper box or inspect the lower box.  Filled the frame feeder with H2O/C12H22O11 mixture and placed a 6”X4”X1/4” piece of Bee Bread and covered hive.

Hebert

Two brood boxes with inner cover and top cover later added a second brood box with empty frames to each of three hives. Smoked, open top and inner cover for inspection and placing sugar water and bee bread.  Saw approximately a dozen medium size red wood roaches running away and killed several.  No hive beetles seen.  There were bees in upper and lower boxes.  Did not remove frames in upper box or inspect lower box.  Bees were actively trying to get back in box through entrance hole.

Shirley

Two brood boxes with inner cover and top cover. Later added a second brood box with empty frames to each of three hives. Smoked, removed top and inner cover for inspection and adding sugar water and bee bread.  Saw no roaches or beetles.  Lots of bees in this hive, upper and lower boxes.  Many tried to sting me through veil and suit.  Shirley and Hebert are in wooded opening facing my pond.  Hives are approximately 50 ft apart.

General Comments

All hives were clean but damp as we have had lots of rain the last week.  There were not as many bees as I expected.  Shirley had most and aggressive, suspect this is the original hive, with original queen that remained in the box at time of split and Carollyn and Hebert had to make a new queen.    It has been mid November since I last looked at the hives.  I harvested only three frames of honey this year for my use in August 2014.

Mr. Jimmy is a Master Gardener who started beekeeping a few years.

 

Leave a comment »

Bugs in Firewood Infect Nearby Trees

NewLSUAC-0214-CMYK-O

Bugs in Firewood Infect Nearby Trees

By George  Giltner,  Adv. Master Gardener, Tree Farmer

On a recent trip, we noticed a billboard that warned users of firewood not to transport the wood, but instead to buy locally cut trees.  There may be invasive bugs hidden in and under the bark that can infect and cause the death of your favorite trees.  Firewood should not be sold or bought if it is infested with bugs.

LSU Plant Pathologist, Dr. Raj Singh, in a 11/03/14 news release warned that Laurel Wilt has been confirmed in Union Parish.  This lethal fungal disease is spread by the Redbay ambrosia beetle, which is carried with infested firewood.  Host trees include sassafras, red bay, swamp bay, camphor, spicebush, pond berry, pond spice, avocado, and California laurel.

1 bif

Adult redbay ambrosia beetles. Credit: Michael C. Thomas, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

2 bif

Redbay ambrosia beetles push out frass for “toothpicks” to appear on tree. Credit: Georgia Forestry Service

These black to brown beetles are very small at 2 mm in length.  There presence may not be noticed until they produce fine sawdust tubes that extend from the bark.  Also observe that the leaves of the infected trees are wilted due to clogging of the xylem (water-conducting tissues).  When the bark is peeled notice the black coloration of the sapwood.

3 bif

Red Bay with Bark Striped showing black fungus. Credit: Albert Mayfield, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Another beetle, the black twig borer, will attack and kill smaller branches.  It is frequently misdiagnosed as redbay ambrosia beetles.

5 bif

Damage by black twig borer. Credit:www.entnemdept.ufl.edu

 

Please contact Dr. Singh, 225-578-4562 or email him through the LSU AgCenter if you suspect Redbay ambrosia beetles within Louisiana.

6 bif

Adult emerald ash borer. credit: http://www.ct.gov

 

 The adults are a dark metallic green, ½ inch by 1/8 inch wide.  They make a small “D” shaped exit hole when they emerge from the bark. The adults do little damage to the trees as they nibble on leaves, however the larvae feed on and destroy the inner bark (xylem and phloem) which results in significant damage to the tree nutrient and water transport system.  The ash trees usually die within 5 years of the initial infestation. Insecticides may save trees but the degree of damage under the bark is difficult to determine.

The cost of treating trees, especially in landscapes, is a difficult decision.  Homeowners must consider property value enhancement, shade and cooling, environmental quality of life in a neighborhood, and sentimental attachments.  The use of systemic insecticides has been attributed to beneficial insect population declines.  Heavy use of certain insecticides may destroy an EAB infestation, but may not be suitable due to state laws or environmental concerns.

Other serious pests as firewood hitchhikers include the Gypsy Moth (males trapped in Mississippi and Texas) and the Asian Longhorn Beetles that attack 15 plant families including maples, willows, and elms.

8 bif

Male & female gypsy moths. Credit: Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

 7 bif

 

The best advice for campers and homeowners is to buy only local firewood within a county or parish.  “Spread the Word” about these very destructive insects to fellow hunters and fishermen, fellow campers, and neighbors.  Inspect firewood and report suspicious infestations to AgCenter representatives throughout the state.

George Giltner is a forest landowner in Beauregard Parish, LA  and a self-taught entomologist. He is also a Louisiana Master Gardener.

 

 

 

Leave a comment »