IPM Voice Newsletter                                     July 2016
In This Issue: Awareness Needed to Increase Preparedness for Tomato Leafminer; Bats and Owls Combat Pests and Protect Children From Pesticide Exposure in South Africa; Drones Diagnose Plant Health and Cut Insecticide Use
Awareness Needed to Increase Preparedness for Tomato Leafminer

A moth known as the tomato leafminer (Tuta absoluta) is currently damaging crops in several countries around the world, and some experts indicate the pest is destined for North American shores. To date, U.S. media have not yet given it much attention. Dr. Muni Muniappan of Virginia Tech's IPM Innovation Lab suggested in a recent editorial that this needs to change as quickly as possible to increase preparedness by US growers. 
T. absoluta has long been a tomato pest in South American countries, was identified abroad in Spain in 2006 and has since spread to France, Italy, Greece, Malta, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and Senegal. A full distribution map is available at the Tuta absoluta Information Network. In 2016, the pest reached Nigeria, where it wiped out 80% of the nation's tomato crop, a staple for the nation. Nigeria is one of Africa's largest producers of the vegetable.
The leafminer deposits eggs on the leaves and stems of tomato plants. As larvae hatch, they mine leaves and burrow into tomatoes to feed, and can cause 100% crop loss. Richard Hopkins, head of pest behavior at the London-based University of Greenwich's Natural Resources Institute, has been quoted as saying that "Tuta has the potential to effectively eliminate tomato from the agricultural cycle."
As with many pests that feed under cover of plant tissue, leafminer larvae are difficult to control. Some strains are resistant to organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides. The leafminer has up to ten to 12 generations per season in favorable conditions. Eggs, pupae and adults have been observed to overwinter in many climates.
Dr. Muniappan is director of the IPM Innovation Lab at Virginia Tech, part of the Office of International Research, Education and Development, one of 24 US AID-funded labs working to reduce hunger worldwide. Dr. Muniappan argues that proactive, preventative IPM methods may be the only effective defense against this pest. The Innovation Lab has conducted IPM workshops for growers in Nepal and Bangladesh that helped growers quickly identify the moth as it arrived and set up controls before populations could explode. Pheromone traps for monitoring and mass-trapping have been employed with some success in Europe, and other researchers are currently exploring biological control via damsel bugs. The U.S. government has responded to the threat of Tuta's arrival by banning all imports of tomatoes with stems and leafy tops attached from affected countries.
To read Dr. Muniappan's editorial and more about the tomato leafminer, visit the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Tuta Absoluta Information Network.
Bats and Owls Combat Pests and Protect Children From Pesticide Exposure in South Africa

A South African pest management company has been employing bats and owls to control insects and rodents as an innovative IPM solution and is now taking aim at tomato leafminer in Nigeria. Johannesburg-based EcoSolutions has more than nineteen branch locations in South Africa and earns the greater share of its income from use of these biological controls for crop pests.
Pesticide risks in developing countries can be greater than in the U.S., Europe and other developed nations. For example, aldicarb is not permitted for use as a rodenticide in the U.S., but is used in South Africa for that purpose. Ingestion of rodenticides by children is a growing concern with over 500 children hospitalized last year alone as a result of eating rat poison. Bats and owls offer an eco-friendly solution.
EcoSolutions sells bat houses, owl houses, and environmental designs with maps on where they should be placed. Getting bats to occupy bat houses is an "exact science" according to director Jonathan Haw. Bat houses should ideally be close to a water source and a calcium source, and be at an ideal height, properly oriented and with a certain air flow. Bats can consume up to 400 to 500 insects a night and a single bat house can hold 150 bats. Bats also have a behavioral influence on insects-certain pests, including leafminer moths, can hear echolocation and will leave the area when they do. Simply playing sounds of bats echolocating over an orchard can reduce pest activity.

Haw suspects that bats could be effective controls for tomato leafminer in Nigeria. "It's taken 100 years to get to a point where people are starting to embrace it as a realistic alternative," he said. "We can bring [bats and owls] back as allies...Food security is a problem in Africa and one of the biggest threats is insects. Bats will travel long distances to find insects. They'll keep coming back. They're perfect in an integrated pest management program." To solve the Nigerian leaf miner problem, Haw has proposed creation of large-scale "bat towers made of brick and concrete costing about $5,000 to $10,000 per structure, that would look a bit like Dutch windmills, [and] that hold 10,000 bats. They would provide a regulated thermal consistency. It's a project that would have to involve the Nigerian government."

To read more about EcoSolutions' innovative IPM approach, visit AFK Insider or visit their company homepage.
Drones Diagnose Plant Health and Cut Insecticide Use

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, are being used to diagnose field plant stress levels and facilitate targeted insecticide applications in Western Australia. Researchers at the Department of Agriculture and Food of Western Australia have been assessing crops via infrared imaging technology to detect signs of stress and nutrient deficiencies in field crops. Nutrient deficient plants are more susceptible to attacks by pests, particularly aphids.
In one study, researchers sent out an eight-winged rotocopter equipped with a multi-sensor camera over canola that had been seeded four months earlier. Since the cell structures of plants are highly efficient at reflecting near-infrared light when hit by sunlight, the scientists used an infrared camera to detect areas that reflected less near-infrared light. The more leaves and biomass a plant has, the better its health, and the greater its reflection of the sun's rays. They found this method was 99.9% accurate from 120 meters above ground level at detecting areas of fields that were nutrient deficient and suffering from aphid infestations.
Early detection and more targeted pesticide applications can save growers money. To read more about this early-stage research, visit phys.org.
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Upcoming IPM-Related Meetings and Conferences
September 25-30, 2016. XXV International Congress of Entomology. Orlando, FL
October 4-6, 2016. National Forum on Climate and Pests. Washington, D.C. & Online 

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