Seed-stealing bugs threaten prairie restoration

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.”
The findings have implications for every prairie restoration project, she said.

Bats worth a billion in bug control

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. 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. “Farmers are stewards of their lands and know better than anyone that many pesticides can be dangerous and cause adverse effects,” said Bahlai, “They don’t always know if the natural enemies will be sufficient to keep pest populations in check.”
“Farmers in general always look for alternatives to control pests other than chemistry,” said Jim Zook, executive director of the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan and the Michigan Corn Growers Association.

Cold spells may kill some but not worst invasive bugs

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.

Bad bug bodes badly for berries

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. 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. “This is an invasive pest that comes from some other part of the world and it moves like we do as nomads,” Tritten said. Tritten said the insect arrived like many other invasive species — through the importation of fruits and vegetables.