Entomology

Insecticide residue in the soil harms wild bees

Posted on
Monday, April 12, 2021

New research funded by the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and conducted at the University of Georgia shows that imidacloprid residue harms wild bees.

In a first-of-its-kind study, Christine Fortuin, now a postdoctorate researcher at UGA, developed a more accurate understanding of the lethal and sublethal effects of neonicotinoid exposure on blue orchard mason bees by studying multiple pathways of imidacloprid exposure.

“Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid, which is a group of pesticides that are highly toxic to bees. It has several common uses but my research was focused on the soil-drench application method. This is when it is applied directly to the soil and soaked up through the roots of the tree to prevent beetles and other pests,” explained Fortuin.

She worked with Kamal Gandhi, a UGA professor of forest entomology, to conduct the research through Southern SARE’s Graduate Student Grant program.

Blue orchard mason bees are one of the few bees native to North America that can be a managed pollinator for orchard crops like apples, cherries and blueberries. Mason bees are members of the Osmia bee family and are considered a wild and solitary species. They have no queens or worker bees and while this dark, metallic blue pollinator may be similar in size to a honey bee, both its lifecycle and interactions with the environment are very different.

Your lawn could help save the bees

Posted on
Monday, April 12, 2021

Over the past few decades, pollinators have been in decline worldwide, which is concerning because 70% of crops used for human food depend on pollinators. Turfgrasses – used for most residential lawns – often take some of the blame for pollinator decline as they are known to be wind-pollinated and were thought not to serve as a pollinator food source, until now.

University of Georgia and U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers identified bees that were collecting pollen from the flowers of a turfgrass called centipedegrass. The researchers have been looking for ways to reverse the decline of pollinator populations by examining centipedegrass as a food source for pollinators, with hopes of normalizing low-maintenance, bee-friendly lawns. Their findings have been published in the Journal of Entomological Science and Insects.

The study was led by College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty Shimat Joseph and David Jespersen on the UGA Griffin campus alongside USDA researcher Karen Harris-Shultz in Tifton.

Clay models track the activity of beneficial insects in turfgrass

Posted on
Friday, January 8, 2021

Modeling clay isn’t limited to art classrooms and sculpting studios. University of Georgia researchers developed a tool to track beneficial insects in turfgrass systems using clay models. Tracking these good predators can help develop eco-friendly pest management techniques for both home lawns and commercial sod growers.

In a recently published article in Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, UGA scientists determined that beneficial predator insects will interact with and leave distinct markings on clay models that resemble their prey, in this case the larvae of turfgrass pests. This study was led by entomology doctoral candidate Fawad Khan under the guidance of Assistant Professor Shimat Joseph in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on the UGA Griffin campus.

“We want to know who the predators are and what kind of impressions these predators will create on these clay models. Before we do anything in the field, we need to have a sense of what that looks like,” said Joseph, a turfgrass entomologist.

Though the clay model approach has been used in other disciplines to observe predator activity, Joseph and Khan found no previous use of the method in turfgrass research. This study developed clay models as a tool to aid in future research.

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Suiter to be featured on Georgia Farm Monitor TV show July 18

Posted on
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

If you’ve ever wondered how to protect your home from termites, tune in to your local Georgia Public Broadcasting station this weekend when two University of Georgia professors will join forces to show viewers the proper steps to help keep their homes pest-free.

University of Georgia entomologist Dan Suiter, a professor on the UGA Griffin campus, and Nick Fuhrman, a professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) on the Athens campus — better known as “Ranger Nick” to viewers of the monthly Georgia Farm Monitor television show — will appear together on the July episode of the show with tips to stop termites.

Interim Assistant Provost named for UGA Griffin Campus

Posted on
Friday, October 4, 2019

We are pleased to announce that Dr. G. David Buntin, a dedicated member of the UGA faculty, has been named Interim Assistant Provost and Campus Director at the UGA Griffin campus, effective Nov. 1. He succeeds Dr. Lew Hunnicutt, who has been named the president of Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.  Dr. Hunnicutt has made several contributions to the UGA Griffin campus, including increasing graduate enrollment, elevating private support, and strengthening partnerships with the local community. I hope that you will join us in thanking him for his leadership at UGA-Griffin and congratulating him on his new leadership role.  Dr. Buntin is a professor of entomology in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and his research and extension activities focus on integrated pest management. He has been an active member of several committees at both the college and university level, and we appreciate his willingness to lead UGA-Griffin during this transition period.

 

UGA-Griffin student returns to college after 30-year break

Posted on
Thursday, January 3, 2019

At 54, Becky Griffin was the oldest University of Georgia student on the Griffin campus to be awarded a degree this fall, but that fact only fueled her drive to succeed.

After putting her graduate studies on hold for 30 years, Griffin juggled a full-time job and put thousands of miles on her car to complete her master’s degree. The mother of two adult daughters, both of whom are UGA graduates, Griffin was encouraged to finish her degree by Kris Braman, a former UGA Griffin researcher who now heads the UGA Department of Entomology.

“Deciding to go back to school after 30 years was a huge decision. When I told Dr. Kris Braman why I didn’t have a master’s degree, she said, ‘Well, we need to fix that.’ She encouraged me to apply, helped me map out a plan and served as my major professor throughout this process. She was the first person on my team,” Griffin said.

UGA Griffin Young Scholars Program welcomes 20 students for 2018

Posted on
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The 2018 Young Scholars Program kicked off on Monday, June 4th at the University of Georgia Griffin Campus with 20 students participating in the six-week internship program. High school students from the region were selected from a pool of 86 applicants to participate in YSP where they will spend the summer working alongside world-renowned research scientists at UGA Griffin.

This year we have eight returning young scholars: Austin Duncan, Tamara English, Mary Grace Johnson, Maddox Jordan, Sheilendria Rawls, Jolie Ryff, Martha Sikora and Sarah Smyly. Joining YSP for the first time are: William Anong, Samuel Cross, Joshua Duffey, Taaseen Khan, Yuheon Lee, Lauren Moyer, Meghan Rogers, Emily Shi, Melanie Wagner, Robert “Lee” Wall, Dean Watson and Caroline Zhang. The students will spend Monday through Thursday working with their mentors and on Fridays they will have exploratory site visits to various areas on campus and work-shops from insightful presenters about college/life skills.

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.