Sex and violence may control sea lamprey

Capital News Service
LANSING — For the first time, researchers have combined the smell of death with the lure of sex to better target a parasitic invader that has feasted on Great Lakes fish for decades. Their target is the sea lamprey, an invasive species that uses its toothy sucker-like mouth to feast on Great Lakes trout, salmon, sturgeon, walleye and whitefish. Before lamprey were managed, they cost the Great Lakes 110 million fish annually. The cost of control is about $20 million a year, saving about 100 million fish annually, said Marc Gaden of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the agency responsible for managing the sea lamprey. Control today is primarily with a selective pesticide that’s dumped into rivers and streams to kill them.

Pesticide levels in rivers may threaten fish, insects

Capital News Service
LANSING — Pesticides, mostly from agricultural runoff and yard use, remain a concern for fish and insects in many of the country’s streams and rivers, warns a national study based in part on research done in Michigan. Although levels of pesticides usually didn’t exceed benchmarks for human health, their potential to harm aquatic life is likely underestimated, according to a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey, part of the U.S. Interior Department. That’s because the agency can afford to monitor “less than half of the more than 400 pesticides currently used in agriculture, and monitoring focused only on pesticides dissolved in water.”

U.S. farms use more than half a billion pounds of pesticides each year to boost crop production and reduce insect-borne disease. “Some of these pesticides are occurring at concentrations that pose a concern for aquatic life,” the Geological Survey said. An environmental scientist at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Biological Station said the study shows a need for more research about “potential interactive effects of pesticides and other organic contaminants in aquatic ecosystems.
“The report is important as the best systematic evaluation we have,” said Stephen Hamilton, a professor of ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry at the research station near Kalamazoo.

State wants federal OK on chemical to fight apple blight

Capital News Service
LANSING – The state is seeking federal permission to use an unregistered pesticide on up to 10,000 acres of apples trees that are susceptible to a deadly disease. The bacteria causing the disease have grown resistant to current treatments, agricultural experts say. The spray-on fungus killer, an antibiotic called kasugamycin, would control fire blight, which has been on the uptick in Michigan orchards the past few springs. The bacterial disease attacks apple and pear trees’ blossoms, shoots and limbs. Branches, leaves and trees look scorched when infected.