Entomology

Squash vine borers on gardeners’ hit list

Posted on
Thursday, July 31, 2014

Backyard squash growers may not agree on which variety is best, but they do agree on one thing – squash vine borers are the enemy.

The small larvae burrow through squash plant stems, wilting and eventually killing what appear to be lush, healthy plants. Since they are hidden inside the plant, most home gardeners have no idea the pests are there until the plants wither and die.

 

Squash vine borers overwinter in the soil, usually where squash or zucchini plants were planted the previous season. When the adults emerge from the soil, they lay eggs on the base of the stems of susceptible plants.

They love squash, too

The tiny destructive pests love to lay their eggs on summer squash, zucchini, winter squash and pumpkin plants but seldom attack cucumber and melons. After about a week, a pale larvae hatches and eats its way into the plant stems near soil-level. As water flow is cut off, the plant wilts and literally collapses.

There is no tried and true successful method to control the pest, but University of Georgia experts do offer tips for gardeners who choose to put up a fight.

To stay ahead of the pests, plant squash as early as possible so the plants are producing before the 6 to 8 summer weeks vine borers are active.

Large population of fall armyworms hits Georgia hay fields

Posted on
Thursday, September 15, 2016

Georgia farmers are never surprised to see fall armyworms munching on their precious corn, sorghum and forage hay crops. They just hope for a low number of armyworms. This year’s population of the tiny destroyers, described as an “Armageddon-type outbreak” by University of Georgia entomologist David Buntin, is far from low.

A small grains pest expert with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Buntin spends his days tracking insects that can destroy Georgia row crops and working to determine the best methods of controlling them and establishing pesticide thresholds, or the number of insects that need to be present before a farmer should apply a pesticide.

“This year, the fall armyworms are way, way above the treatment threshold. They are here in much, much higher numbers,” he said. “As of the end of August, almost every pasture in central and north Georgia has been sprayed at least once and, for many of them, twice.”

Each year, the worms migrate up from the Caribbean and Florida. This year, they showed up early in corn and sorghum fields. Now they are in pastures earlier than normal.

UGA scientist Kris Braman named head of university's entomology department

Posted on
Monday, July 25, 2016

Twenty-seven years after joining the faculty as a fledgling researcher, University of Georgia professor Kris Braman has been named the head of the university’s Department of Entomology.

“The entomology department at the University of Georgia is highly ranked and widely recognized for the strength and balance of its programs in core areas,” said Braman, whose appointment was effective July 1.

As the new department head, Braman sees the entomology program continuing to address current and emerging priorities in the discipline in a way that meets the needs of agricultural, urban and industry clientele.

A native of New York state, she earned a undergraduate degree in forestry at the State University of New York (SUNY) and a doctorate in entomology from the University of Kentucky.

“All SUNY forestry students were required to take entomology because insects are so important in managing forest health,” she said. “I was hooked for life before I was out of my teens!”

Braman joined the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty in 1989, working on the college’s campus in Griffin, Georgia. Since then she has conducted research on pests and beneficial insects of turfgrasses and ornamentals in urban settings.

UGA Extension hosts beekeeping basics workshop as part of "Saturday at the Rock"

Posted on
Thursday, June 16, 2016

A burgeoning interest in the benefits of delicious, local honey and increased concern for pollinator health has led more and more Americans to start keeping their own bees.

Bees can be raised successfully across the state of Georgia due to the state's long growing season and relatively mild winters. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension has the tools to help the novice beekeeper get started.

Putnam County Extension agent and beekeeping expert Keith Fielder will host a beekeeping basics workshop on Saturday, June 18, as part of the “Saturday at the Rock” educational series at Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton, Georgia. The workshop will include information on how to start and maintain a bee colony, as well as provide the chance to meet other novice and experienced beekeepers.

The beekeeping basics workshop is recommended for those 14 and older, but organizers will also host a child-friendly program for the junior beekeeper. Rock Eagle’s environmental education team will lead an exploration of the inner workings of a beehive and basic bee biology. Educators will share ways in which participants can attract honeybees to their yard, as well as discuss the many benefits bees can provide to the garden.

Both programs will run from 9:30–11:30 a.m. Doors will open at 9 a.m. Guests will convene in the center’s Natural History Museum preceding the program. Advanced registration for this program is required, and the cost is $5 per person.

Georgia creates guidelines to protect pollinating insects

Posted on
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Many food items, including fresh fruits and vegetables, would never make it to grocery store or farmers market shelves without the help of beneficial insects like honeybees and butterflies. The number of these pollinating insects in the U.S. is declining, and to help, Georgia agricultural experts developed a statewide plan to teach gardeners and landscapers how to care for their plants and protect these vulnerable insects that are vital to food production. “The issue is that we have broad-scale problems with our pollinators — both in numbers and in diversity,” said Kris Braman, an entomologist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and a member of the team that created the “Protecting Georgia’s Pollinators” plan.

Pollination involves transferring pollen from the male parts of a flower to the female parts of the same, or a different, flower. This simple act of nature is essential to the production of many seed crops.

Insect pollinators contribute more than $24 billion to the U.S., according to a fact sheet released by the White House in June 2014. A 2014 economic impact study by UGA lists the annual value of pollination in Georgia at more than $360 million.