Bees and other pollinators, including birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps, beetles, and small mammals, play a critical role in our food production system. A healthy pollinator population is vital to producing marketable commodities. More than 100 U.S. grown crops rely on pollinators. The added revenue to crop production from pollinators is valued at $18 billion. Pollinators also support healthy ecosystems needed for clean air, stable soils, and a diverse wildlife. That’s why USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) partners with the Land-Grant University System, U.S. government laboratories, and private and non-profit organizations to support research, education, and extension programs advancing pollinator health.
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) researchers in Florida have developed “attract-and-kill” traps to control Asian citrus psyllids in the suburbs where citrus trees are popular landscape plantings.
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists, in cooperation with Pacific Biosciences and Penn State University have successfully reconstructed the genome of spotted lanternfly, paving the way for understanding it's biology and behavior. Not only is it the first published genome for this pest, but no closely related species has had its genome sequenced, making the data even more important.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has confirmed the first spotted lanternfly hatch of 2020. The first instar nymph of the season was reported by a department employee while surveying for the pest in the upper northeast corner of Cecil County near the Pennsylvania border.
See additional resources on the Maryland Department of Agriculture's site for Spotted Lanternfly for up-to-date information. For questions related to the quarantine, permitting, treatment, or to report a sighting of the spotted lanternfly, especially outside of the quarantine zone, call 410-841-5920 or email DontBug.MD@maryland.gov. If you report a spotted lanternfly via email, please provide the location of the sighting and your contact information.
The plot could have come from Hollywood — an insidious alien invader threatens to overrun the land, but intrepid scientists discover a secret weapon in the far-off, exotic land of Nepal and bring the pestilence to heel. But this is not fiction; it's true. The air potato plant (Dioscorea bulbifera) is an exotic vine from Asia that was introduced to Florida about 115 years ago to make medicine. After escaping from the lab, it multiplied and smothered native plant communities in all of Florida's 67 counties. It spread beyond to large swaths of land in the southeastern United States. All attempts to manage the air potato – mechanical, chemical, or physically gathering the bulbils — were unsuccessful; they were either too labor intensive and costly or caused collateral damage to native and endangered species. According to Min Rayamajhi, a plant pathologist at the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Invasive Plant Research Laboratory (IPRL) in Fort Lauderdale, FL, the vines return every season, repeating the growth cycle and expanding the invasion at a rate of about 6 inches per day. Rayamajhi and retired ARS scientist Bob Pemberton traveled to Nepal and accidentally discovered the air potato beetle.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service Eastern Region is requesting applications for the FY 2021 Landscape Scale Restoration (LSR) competitive grant program. The LSR program encourages collaborative, science-based restoration of priority rural forest landscapes and support for priorities identified in State Forest Action Plans while leveraging public and private resources. The Eastern Region has distributed nearly $20 million in funding for LSR projects since 2016. Objectives for the Landscape Scale Restoration Program:
- Reduce the risk of uncharacteristic wildfires;
- Improve fish and wildlife habitats, including for threatened and endangered species;
- Maintain or improve water quality and watershed function;
- Mitigate invasive species, insect infestation, and disease;
- Improve important forest ecosystems;
- Measure ecological and economic benefits including air quality and soil quality and productivity.
Visit the LSR website to learn more about the program and how to apply. Applications must be received in Grants.gov by 6 p.m. EST on September 17, 2020, with additional draft deadlines outlined on the LSR website.
U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech announced the release of $3,442,389 in fiscal year (FY) 2020 grant funding to suppress and control the brown tree snake (BTS), Boiga irregularis, primarily on Guam. Funds also support prevention, detection, and rapid response efforts in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Hawaii, in addition to research and development on how to improve suppression methods and potentially eradicate the snake on Guam. The Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) Brown Tree Snake Control program FY 2020 funds are divided among several federal, state, and territorial agencies that collaborate in support of the three pillars of BTS suppression: $1,229,296 is used for control in rapid response and research activities, $1,724,210 is used for interdiction, and $488,883 is used for prevention through coordination and outreach.
White-nose syndrome has been spreading through U.S. bat populations since 2006 and has caused mass die-offs in various regions of the country. The syndrome is caused by Pd (Pseudogymnoascus destructans), a fungus that invades the skin of bats while they hibernate. USDA Forest Service wildlife biologists Roger Perry and Phillip Jordan conducted a study to calculate the survival rates of tricolored bats (Perimyotis subflavus) in the Ouachita Mountains of west-central Arkansas. The research helps satisfy the need for robust estimates of population data amid the WNS outbreak. The scientists chose to study the tricolored bat because it is common across North America and has suffered substantial declines due to WNS. The research highlights the importance of maintaining and protecting small hibernation sites as they may be critical to the conservation of the tricolored bat species.
ARS researchers are working to understand the impact of a changing climate on bee health. In observance of National Pollinator Week, Tellus presents a special article authored by two of ARS’s leading bee researchers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Clemson University's Department of Plant Industry (DPI) are inspecting trees in Hollywood, South Carolina following the detection and identification of the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). Tree inspectors from APHIS and DPI are surveying trees in the eastern portion of Hollywood around the property where ALB was found. Inspectors will ask for permission from residents to survey trees on private properties before they conduct surveys. Residents who live in the town of Hollywood can help by allowing officials access to their property to inspect trees. Residents can report the insect or tree damage by calling the ALB hotline at 1-866-702-9938 or reporting online at www.AsianLonghornedBeetle.com. South Carolina is the sixth state to detect an Asian longhorned beetle infestation. The beetle has previously been found in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Ohio. Infestations have been eradicated in New Jersey and Illinois, and eradication efforts continue in New York, Massachusetts and Ohio.