Seed-stealing bugs threaten prairie restoration

By LIAM TIERNAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — Bugs hinder prairie restorations more than previously thought, according to research conducted at Michigan State University.

The study found that arthropods — which include insects, spiders and crustaceans — account for the majority of seeds removed from prairie restoration sites.

The study could catch a lot of attention in the prairie restoration field, said Mary Linabury, an MSU plant biology researcher who authored a study to be published in the Journal of Plant Ecology.

“In the past, I don’t believe that managers believed that arthropods had much of an impact on seed consumption,” said Linabury, who conducted the research with Lars Brudvig and Nash Turley of MSU. “This study says otherwise.” Continue reading

Bats worth a billion in bug control

By MARIE ORTTENBURGER
Capital News Service

LANSING — Bats get a bad rap, but a new study proves that they’re hard workers, and that the work they do is worth more than $1 billion to farmers.

The study shows that bats play a vital role in keeping in check corn earworm moths and larvae that destroy corn, cotton, tomato and other important crops.

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Corn earworm moth captured in pheromone trap. Credit: Josiah Maine


It’s no news to farmers that bats are important pest regulators. But without knowing just how much bats contribute, it’s hard for farmers to confidently decide to reduce their pesticide use, said Christie Bahlai, a research associate at Michigan State University’s Department of Entomology.
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Cold spells may kill some but not worst invasive bugs

BY LACEE SHEPARD

Capital News Service

LANSING — Severe winter weather may lead to the death of some invasive species, according to a recent study.

In negative-10-degree weather, invasive species could freeze and die, the report from the USDA Forest Service and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture said.

The report shows the effects of severe weather temperatures on the invasive emerald ash borer, an insect that feeds on ash and kills the tree.

Regardless of the study’s findings and the bitter cold affecting Michigan this season, there is little hope for eradication of many of our invasive species, particularly the resilient emerald ash borer, said Deborah McCullough, a Michigan State University professor of entomology and forestry.

“Given that temps have gotten really cold, and not for one night but for an extended period, there’s a tendency for a lot of people to hope for insect mortality,” McCullough said.

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Bad bug bodes badly for berries

By LAUREN GENTILE

Capital News Service

LANSING – It’s the bug to keep your eyes open for — if you can even see it.

Measuring at less than one-sixteenth of an inch, the spotted wing drosophila is taking a tough toll on next year’s blueberry season.

Photo courtesy of MSU

The tiny insect was first spotted in the state in 2010 and has been plaguing farmers ever since, said Robert Tritten, district fruit educator for Michigan State University Extension in Genesee County.
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