Communication in termites via Semiochemicals

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Semiochemicals are small organic compounds that transmit chemical messages. They are used by insects for intra- and interspecies communication. Insects detect semiochemical directly from the air with olfactory receptors. In most insects, the receptors are located in sensilla hairs on the antennae. The term “semiochemical” has been in use since 1971. It is derived from the Greek word “semeon,” which means “sign” or “signal.” Semiochemicals were already being studied in the 1880s. Although their chemistry was not yet understood at that time, people already knew about using female insects to lure males into traps. Semiochemical research in its present form has been conducted since the 1950s, when the first pheromones were isolated and identified. From the 1950s up until today, more than 3,000 semiochemicals connected to the chemical communication of insects have been identified.

The chemical analysis of semiochemicals should consider both effect and structure. In terms of effect, semiochemicals can be classified as pheromones or allelochemicals based on how they are used and who benefits. In terms of structure, semiochemicals can be divided into twenty-four classes according to functional groups. Familiarization with the practical applications of semiochemicals is also important to the study of their chemistry.


The semiochemical database Pherobase contains approximately 3,000 semiochemicals so far. Most of the molecules are small and simple, but some have structures that can be quite complicated. Semiochemicals have molecular weights ranging from 17 to 880 g/mol, but they are usually volatile. The heaviest molecules have the longest carbon chains, but there are fewer than ten semiochemicals in the database with a mass above 550 g/mol. The length of the carbon chains in semiochemicals varies from zero to forty-five carbons. The number of double bonds in semiochemical structures varies from zero to thirteen. Along with double bonds, cis-trans isomerism is a typical feature of semiochemical compounds, although positional and optical isomerism also occur. Based on effect, semiochemicals are divided into two main categories: pheromones and allelochemicals. An examination of semiochemicals must take their functions into account, since the same molecule could act as a pheromone for one insect species and as a kairomone or allomone for another. In nature, a species-specific chemical message could be generated based on an exact molar ratio, a particular form of isomerism, or isomeric mixtures, for example.


images (1)Pheromones are compounds used by insects for intraspecies communication. The term “pheromone” is derived from the Greek words “pherein” (to carry) and “horman” (toexcite/stimulate). The term was introduced in 1959 by Karlsson and Butenandt and by Karlsson and Lüscher simultaneously. The difference between pheromones and hormones is that hormones are produced in an insect’s endocrine glands. They have an effect on the insect that produces them, whereas pheromones affect other individuals instead. Based on their effect, pheromones can be divided into at least the following categories:

  • Aggregation pheromones: compounds that increase the concentration of insects at the pheromone source.
  • Alarm pheromones: compounds that stimulate insects’ escape or defense behavior.
  • Sex pheromones: compounds that help individuals of the opposite sex to find each other.
  • Trail pheromones: among social insects, compounds used by workers to mark the way to a food source, for example.
  • Marking pheromones: compounds used by insects to mark the boundaries of a territory. Dragonflies (Miettinen, A., 2006).

The effect of a semiochemical is influenced by its molecular weight. Most of the alarm pheromones, for example, have a molecular weight below 200 g/mol. Once the danger has passed, they evaporate. Trail pheromones, on the other hand, have higher molecular weights. They are not supposed to evaporate immediately.


The allelochemicals are classified as allomones, kairomones or synomones. Allomones are a class of compounds that benefit the producer, but not the receiver. Allomones are often found in nature as part of a chemical defense, such as toxic insect secretions. Predators also use allomones to lure prey. Kairomones are a class of compounds that are advantageous for the receiver. The term “kairomone” is derived from the Greek word “kairos,” which means “opportunistic” (Nordlund et al. 1981, 18). Kairomones benefit many predators and bugs, for example, by guiding them to prey or potential host insects. Synomones (from the Greek “syn” for “with” or “together”) are compounds that are beneficial to both the receiver and the sender.


images (2)Semiochemicals (Gk. semeon, a signal) are chemicals that mediate interactions between organisms. Semiochemicals are subdivided into allelochemicals and pheromones depending on whether the interactions are interspecific or intraspecific, respectively. Within both allelochemicals and pheromones it is sometimes useful to refer to chemicals as arrestants, attractants, repellents, deterrents, stimulants or other descriptive terms. These terms can indicate what behavior is involved in the response such as a feeding stimulant or flight arrestant. Pheromones (Gk. phereum, to carry; horman, to excite or stimulate) are released by one member of a species to cause a specific interaction with another member of the same species. Pheromones may be further classified on the basis of the interaction mediated, such as alarm, aggregation or sex pheromone. It is the sex pheromones of insects that are of particular interest to agricultural integrated pest management (IPM) practitioners.

The concept of IPM is based on the recognition that no single approach to pest control offers a universal solution, and that the best crop protection can be provided by a fusion of various tactics and practices based on sound ecological principles. Pheromones are a commonly used component of many insect IPM programs (Dent, 1993 and Anonymous, 1995.) The existence of pheromones has been known for centuries, apparently originating in observations of mass bee stinging in response to a chemical released by the sting of a single bee. The two primary uses of insect pheromones are for detection and monitoring of populations and for mating disruption. These uses take advantage of sex pheromones on which a vast majority of insect pests rely to mediate reproduction.

Male annihilation is trapping carried to a seemingly logical conclusion. Place enough traps, catch enough males, and leave the females of the species without mates. This approach has been used against pink bollworms in an isolated area of Arizona with low numbers of overwintering moths. Any untrapped males simply mate more frequently. Mating disruption does not depend on traps for control, although traps are frequently used to monitor the extent of mating disruption in the population. Failure to trap males is taken as an indication that males are unable to find females which may or may not be true. Thus, trap data must always be related to actual levels of crop infestation.

Present commercial formulations of pheromones for both trap baits and mating disruption mimic the natural chemical blends of females as clearly as possible. Most insect sex pheromones are multicomponent with precise ratios of components which may be expensive to manufacture. Thus, insect sex pheromones and products containing pheromones, are commercially available primarily for insects of economic importance.

The Ever Annoying Lygus Bug!

htdOne of our most important competitors for food, fiber, and other natural resources, since time immemorial, has been insects. These pests have a direct impact on agricultural food production as they cause damage by chewing the leaves of crop plants, sucking out plant juices, boring within the roots, stems or leaves, and spreading plant pathogens. Every year millions of dollars are lost because of insect damage in agriculture. One such pesky creature, contributing to this damage is the lygus bug. Lygus bug also called tarnished plant bug, is a destructive oval-shaped insect that causes serious damage in fruit orchards, herbaceous plants, vegetable crops, commercial flower plants, and nursery stock.

Lygus bug has a wide host range of more than 350 plants! In general, lygus bug prefers grains, vegetables, and weeds near crops. When lygus bugs are present in high numbers, seed set and maturation may be reduced by nearly 100%. These pests inject toxic saliva into the plant and cause seed structures to die and drop off the plant. Even moderate feeding can cause premature bud shed, deformed seeds and reduced seed viability. Injured seeds will turn brown or black and will not germinate. In western Canada, lygus bugs reduced yields by approximately 7%; while in southern Manitoba, yields were reduced by almost 20%!

downloadLygus bugs, while infesting fruits like peaches, pears and strawberries, may cause dimpling, also known as catfacing. Lygus bugs also cause fire blight disease, which they spread throughout the area as they feed. This disease causes the flowers to turn brown and wilt and twigs to shrivel and blacken, often curling at the ends. In more advanced cases of fire blight infection, cankers begin to form on branches. These discoloured oozing patches contain masses of fire blight bacteria and heavy infections can be fatal. It was reported that in one field near Glendale, United States, about 90% of the cotton crops, valued at $16,000,000, was destroyed through the attack of this insect. 

This article published in The Western Producer will highlight the severity of the damage caused by the lygus bug.

western producer

Alberta at high risk for lygus bugs

Posted on Aug. 1st, 2014

By Barbara Duckworth

 BROOKS, Alta. — It is time to start sweeping canola fields for lygus bugs.

This summer’s heat, with temperatures at or above 30 C, is encouraging faster reproduction of the damaging insects, said Scott Meers, an entomologist with Alberta Agriculture.

“This year will be a high risk for lygus. You should start sweeping,” he said.

Two or more bugs captured per sweep means it is time to spray, he told a Canola Galla education day held at Alberta Agriculture’s Crop Development Centre at Brooks.

“I expect we are going to get into the typical race between harvest and lygus damaging the crop,” he said.

Adults and larvae suck plant juices so that flowers abort and pods fall off. Feeding on the older pods causes the seeds to shrivel or the pods to be deformed.

Alberta Agriculture is monitoring 311 sites along Highway 2 down the centre of the province. The department has found lygus bugs as well as plenty of bertha army worms and a few diamondback moths. However, the monitoring has found no Swede midges.

In some years, spraying for cabbage seed pod weevils will also catch lygus bugs, but it is not uncommon to have to spray lygus twice.

“We don’t want to encourage prescription spraying, but if you spray for cabbage seed pod weevil, then the general trend is that if we get the timing right for cabbage seed pod weevil, then we seldom have trouble with lygus,” he said.

C)-02The most common tool used to manage lygus bugs are insecticides. However, besides being extremely toxic and harmful to the environment, most insecticides used for lygus control will destroy beneficial insects which help keep white flies and other pests in check. Moreover, studies show that the more exposed the bug is to the insecticide, the more resistant the bug will be. In spite of that, insecticide application was the only option available for the control of lygus bugs once populations reached economic threshold levels, until now.

Now, we no longer have to depend on these conventional, toxic insecticides to deal with these pests! C Tech Corporation offers a range of non-toxic, non-hazardous anti-insect aversive, which can be successfully used to keep pesky creatures at bay. Termirepel™ is a broad spectrum aversive which works against almost 500 species of damaging insects. The most appealing feature of this product is that it is an environment-friendly repellent which causes no harm to the target or the non-target species! It is available in masterbatch and lacquer form and as a liquid solution. Thus, by incorporating Termirepel™ in agricultural films and mulches, crops would be efficaciously protected against these menacing insects!

Lovebugs- Not so loving!

lovebugs0529lcAs you drive down the highways of humid areas such as southern United States, you may encounter a nuisance in the form of splattered insects on your windshield, hood, and radiator grill. These insects on your automobile are called lovebugs or honeymoon flies, a fitting name due to their unique mating flights. The lovebug is a species of fly that happens to flutter about as a male and female attached together. This species’ reputation as a public nuisance is not due to any bite or sting. These bugs, when on the move, collide with vehicles, blurring windshields and clogging radiators and leave behind a sticky white substance that can ruin the paint on the automobiles.

These insects tend to swarm around roadsides, and carelessly drift into the path of oncoming traffic. The result? Drivers with bug-coated windshields find it difficult to see which poses a serious threat of accidents. Because lovebugs can exist in enormous numbers near highways, they die in large numbers on automobile windshields, hoods, and radiator grills when the vehicles travel at high speeds. If left for more than an hour or two, the remains become extremely difficult to remove. The acidity of the dead adult body, especially the female’s egg masses, often results in pits and etches in automotive paint and chrome if not quickly removed. Moreover, another great concern for drivers is excessive clogging of vehicle radiator air passages with the bodies of the adults, as a result of which there is a reduction of the cooling effect on engines, and obstruction of windshields when the remains of the adults and egg masses are smeared on the glass.

Car_LoveBugs1Tests have shown that lovebugs are attracted to automobile exhaust that has been irradiated with UV light. It has been proposed that the chemicals in car exhaust, i.e. aldehydes and formaldehydes, are similar to the chemicals released by decaying organic matter. Besides that, the heat radiating off asphalt is also an attractant for these insects. Roads are warm and have accumulated an abundance of automobile exhaust, mimicking areas that are appropriate for lovebugs to lay their eggs. The females are full of about 350 fertilized eggs when they hit a windshield which leads to the white sticky mess that causes so much anguish. This white mess is actually the eggs and the fatty tissue around the eggs that hardens quickly in the hot sun.

The article given below about these pesky insects will further highlight the situation.


Love bugs leave their mark on cars

By Amanda Thomas 

Published: October 1, 2005

bildeLove is in the air as swarms of love bugs leave their mark on windshields across South Alabama this season.

Thanks apparently to a wet summer punctuated by hurricane rains, hundreds of these copulating bugs — flies, actually — are congregating at intersections, traffic lights, filling stations and truck stops. Whole gas pumps are turned black with them.

“They’re the worst this year than they’ve ever been,” said John Hadley, 59, an employee at a BP station near Perdido.

Entomologists who track these insects say they do not bite, damage crops or pose an environmental hazard.

But they are a nuisance, turning out in large numbers in two mating flights a year, most of them taking place during April to May and August to September.

Love bugs, which are attracted to warm car hoods, hot engine and exhaust fumes, can reduce visibility through windshields or cause a car to overheat, according to the University of Florida Entomology Department Web site. If they remain in place on a car’s finish for one or two days, bacterial action causes them to become so acidic that they can etch car paint.

Alvin Diamond, an instructor of ecology at Troy University, said the love bugs die shortly after they mate and the female lays her eggs.

But until they’re gone, little love is being lost by those being bugged in South Alabama.

At the BP station near Perdido, Tyrone Thomas of Biloxi, Miss., cleaned them by the dthscore from the windshield of his SUV. He said he had never seen as many as this season.

“It was really bad in Biloxi,” said Thomas. “They were so thick it was like driving though a rain storm.”

Hadley, the BP employees, was outside filling up buckets with water and windshield washer solution. He said they could hardly keep them full.

Lovebugs, while being a nuisance after their death, are actually beneficial when alive. The larvae of these insects eat leaves, grass roots, etc. and are good at breaking down organic matter. These insects consume the detritus that surrounds them, thereby rejuvenating the earth. Since these insects are vital for our ecosystem, it is of extreme importance to find a safe and non-toxic solution for the lovebug problem which would keep these insects at bay while not causing any harm to these beneficial insects.

At C Tech Corporation, we offer a safe and foolproof solution to deal with these annoying pests. Termirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous product that primarily repels insects from the application. It is a broad spectrum repellent which works against almost 500 species of pestering bugs thus efficaciously fending them away from the application. The most unique feature of this product is that it is environmentally safe and causes no harm to the target species as well as humans and the environment. Our product is available in masterbatch and lacquer form, and as a liquid solution. To repel any insect, this product can be coated on the automobiles in lacquer form or diluted with a base solvent. The repelling mechanism of the product would ward off lovebugs and any other insect that could prove to be a nuisance to drivers and motorists. Thus, using Termirepel™ would effectively ensure that our roads remain safe for anyone who wishes to use the roadways!

Bed bugs: A scary problem!

Bed bugs are basically parasitic insects of the cimicid family that feed exclusively dsdon blood. The name “bed bug” is derived from the preferred habitat of Cimex lectularius: warm houses and especially nearby or inside of beds and bedding or other sleep areas. Bed bugs are mainly active at night, but are not exclusively nocturnal. They usually feed on their hosts without being noticed. Bed bugs are attracted to their hosts primarily by carbon dioxide, secondarily by warmth, and also by certain chemicals. Bedbugs prefer exposed skin, preferably the face, neck and arms of a sleeping individual. Although under certain cool conditions adult bed bugs can live for over a year without feeding, under typically warm conditions they will try to feed at five to ten day intervals and adults can survive for about five months without food.

It takes between five and ten minutes for a bed bug to become completely asengorged with blood. In all, the insect may have spent less than 20 minutes in physical contact with its host, and it will not attempt to feed again until it has either completed a molt or, if an adult has thoroughly digested the meal.

Once feeding is complete, a bed bug will relocate to a place close to a known host, commonly in or near beds or couches in clusters of adults, juveniles, and eggs which entomologists call harborage areas or simply harborages to which the insect will return after future feedings by following chemical trails. Bed bugs use pheromones and kariomones to communicate regarding nesting locations, feeding and reproduction.

Let’s take a look at the following article which reports the wrong doings of bed bugs;

Woman suffers 300 bed bug bites at Auckland motel

Saturday 28 Dec 2013 9:12a.m.

A woman bitten by more than 300 bed bugs at an Auckland motel wants all of her medical expenses to be paid.

Debbie Roome was staying at Auckland Airport Kiwi Motel in Mangere earlier this month when she suffered a severe allergic reaction to the bites, which covered her body in painful, itchy welts.

The Christchurch local was visiting Auckland for a night for a friend’s graduation. After falling asleep she woke to find her bed infested.

“I woke up at 3:30am and shone my cell phone on the bed and saw these bed bugs scuttling off in every direction. I didn’t want to wake my friend up, so I sat on the edge of the bed for the next two hours and told them when I checked out that the room was infested and I’d like a refund,” Ms Roome says.

It wasn’t until she reached the airport to take her flight that she approached staff at the Air New Zealand Koru Lounge for help.

AAA“It turned out to be over 300 bites. By the time I was supposed to fly home I had swollen up in these big welts all over my body and my face. My lips were turning blue. Air New Zealand wouldn’t let me fly home because of the swelling and the possibility of going into shock and not being able to breathe,” she says.

She then received medical treatment and returned to Christchurch two days later. But just before Christmas the bites flared up again, forcing her back to the doctor to receive a course of antibiotics and skin cream.

Mark McDonald is the “bug king” and has made a living out of eradicating the parasites, and says Ms Roome’s case is one of the worst he’s seen.

“That’s at the upper end of the scale, 300 bites could equal up to 300 bed bugs that were on her,” he says. 

Ms Roome has received a refund for her hotel room, but only half of her expenses have been reimbursed and she wants to be compensated further.

Auckland Airport Kiwi Motel would not talk to 3 News today. 

The best product to combat the bed bug problem is Termirepel™, a product of C Tech Corporation.
Termirepel™ works by the mechanism of repellence by virtue of which it does not allow the insect/pest to come near the application and thus it negates the possibility of an infestation. Moreover it is available in the form of polymer compatible masterbatches as well as in lacquer form to be applied on wood and other furniture. Thus it is easy to apply and safe to use.


Wood wasp’s affinity to wood – A cause for worry

The names “wood wasp” is a wood-boring insect in the order Hymenoptera,download (1) family Siricidae. Of greatest concern are the large, non-stinging wasps that normally are attracted to and complete their life cycles in newly dead or dying conifer trees. Timber salvaged from these trees can be processed into infested lumber. This can lead to adult wasps emerging in recently completed buildings or structures.

The dozen species of wood wasps in California, Oregon, and Washington look similar. They are large insects, generally 1 inch or longer, and wasplike in appearance but have an elongated, cylindrical body without a noticeable constriction or “waist.” They often are black or metallic dark blue or combinations of black, red, and yellow. They make a noisy buzz when flying. A female wood wasp drills her ovipositor nearly 3/4 inch into the wood of a weakened or dying tree and lays 1 to I-HY-SCAL-AD.0017 eggs. At the same time, she squirts in a fungus from her abdominal gland. She continues this process, laying up to 200 eggs.

The eggs hatch in around 4 weeks and the larva spends its time eating the wood-destroying fungi that its mother thoughtfully injected along with the egg. At the base of the ovipositor there is a pair of glands that contain the fruiting bodies of the fungus, and some of these are injected with each egg.

Wood wasp damage in buildings is more cosmetic than structurally weakening. The total number of insects emerging in any one house is limitWood-wasp-resting-on-timbered, usually fewer than a dozen. Emerging wood wasps can chew throughjust about any substance, and you can see their large exit holes in wallboard or plaster walls, hardwood floors, linoleum, carpeting, nonceramic floor tiles, and other interior surfaces.

Wood wasps don’t reinfest structures. Even if male and female wood wasps had the opportunity to mate in the building, the females would not be stimulated to lay eggs in dry, finished lumber.

Though they are not as aggressive as carpenter ants or drywood termites, their presence is not welcomed equally. Let’s take a look at the following news article on wood wasp;





That’s what you call a sting operation: Police seal off house on holiday Island after seven meter wasps nest found
By STEVE NOLAN, 12 April 2013
A seven metre long wasps nest has reportedly been discovered in an abandoned house by police officers in Spain.

Officers were called to the empty property in San Sebastian de La Gomera on the island of Tenerife after a series of calls from concerned neighbors. Police sealed off the home when the found the 22ft nest, which is said to have almost filled a room, and millions of wasps in the house, according to

Experts believe that the nest was built by an African species of wasp which had migrated to Tenerife.

The Canary Islands are located around 100km from the African coast.

Police are said to be trying to find out who the property belongs to.

The nest may well be the biggest ever found.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest one found to date pic1was discovered in Waimaukau in New Zealand in April 1963 and was an impressive 3.7metres, or 12ft 2ins long, more than 5ft in diameter and 18ft in circumference.

Thought to have been created by German wasps, that nest was so heavy that it fell from the tree it was hanging in and broke in two. 

The size, type and colour of a wasps nest depends on the species of wasp that builds it.

They tend to be predominantly made from paper pulp – the wasp gathers wood fibres from weathered wood and softens it by chewing and mixing with saliva.

The previous biggest nest in the last 50 years was discovered in the attic of a pub in Southampton, Hampshire, in 2010.

Measuring 6ft by 5ft the nest was home to an estimated 500,000 wasps.

Another giant nest was found at the Avery Garden Centre in Taunton, Somerset last summer.

The average common wasp nest contains around 4,000 to 5,000 wasps – but colonies have been known to reach populations of 20,000.
Though the wood wasps are mild in comparison to termites and carpenter ants, no one wants to wants to discover a big foul wood wasp nest in our house.

To curb this problem of the wood wasp, a unique solution in contrast to the typical hazardous, non-effective has to be adopted. And there is a solution, infact a Green solution provided by C Tech Corporation: TERMIREPEL™. Termirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous and environment friendly product, with a high efficacy to repel insects like wood borers from the wood. Termirepel™ is a multitasking product; along with wood wasp it protects the wood from vicious termites, notorious carpenter ants and other insects. Termirepel™ in solution form can be injected at high pressure in the lumber so as to prevent the infestation. It is also available in lacquer form which can be applied on the furniture, patios, floor as coating so as to prevent further infestation.

Wrath of the locusts!

A plague of locusts has been feared throughout history. Even after all these years, locusts continue to wreak havoc. In many ways, locusts are like harmless little grasshoppers. They eat plants and they hop long distances on springy back legs. black-grasshopper-700x465Their lifestyle may be solitary, similar to that of grasshoppers. However, locust behavior can be something else entirely. They have another behavioral phase called the gregarious phase. Just one locust can’t cause trouble. The problem is, sometimes, locusts gather in big groups or swarms. When environmental conditions favour the growth of many green plants and promote breeding, locusts can congregate into thick, mobile, ravenous swarms. In an astoundingly short period of time, they can completely destroy a crop; nuisance for commercial agriculture, but life-threatening for subsistence farmers. Dr. Steve Rogers of Cambridge University says, “The gregarious phase is a strategy born of desperation and driven by hunger – swarming is a response to find pastures new.”

An approaching swarm of locusts looks like a big black cloud. As the swarm descends, the insects eat everything in sight – garden crops, grass, flowers, and even clothes hanging on a clothes line. In poor desert countries, families can starve after locusts eat all their food. A swarm of locusts can stretch over 460 square miles in size and include billions of hungry insects! Locust swarms 57c7da04-40c4-4dec-a6f4-216e33996323-620x414may devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage; ultimately causing famine and starvation. Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day, so a swarm of such size would eat around 423 million pounds of plants each day. When these insects alight on the ground, they immediately begin to devour the grass and grain, eating every green thing they can find. Adult locusts will potentially eat any vegetation that is green, or even partially green. The bigger the swarm, greater will be the damage caused. Although the young hoppers cannot fly, they march in bands, eating the crops in their path. Swarming locusts can fly almost 80 kilometers a day, and they may travel several 1000 kilometers before they settle to breed.

Locust swarms occur in many parts of the world, but today they are most destructive in the sustenance farming regions of Africa. The destruction of crops has a devastating effect on people. Although locust swarms do not affect humans directly, they could cause death due to famine and starvation. Cases of crop destruction due to locusts are ubiquitous. In 2004, West and North Africa experienced their largest infestation of locusts in more than 15 years. Desert locusts swept across Sahel from Mauritania to Egypt, and then continued as far as Israel in the east and as far as Portugal in the north. Half the crops of Mauritania were lost as a result of this infestation. In 2004, Australian plague locusts were responsible for national agricultural losses estimated to be worth more than $11 mildownload (3)lion. In November 2008, a locust swarm 3.7 miles long devastated agricultural production in Australia. A swarm of an estimated 30 million locusts had descended on Egypt. The insects descended on agricultural farms in Giza and in Cairo, causing damage of catastrophic proportions.

The following article will explain just how destructive locusts can be:

bbc africa



Madagascar hit by ‘severe’ plague of locusts

Published on 27 March 2013

_66642760_66642755A severe plague of locusts has infested about half of Madagascar, threatening crops and raising concerns about food shortages, a UN agency says.

The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said billions of the plant-devouring insects could cause hunger for 60% of the population.

About $22m (£14.5m) was urgently needed to fight the plague in a country where many people are poor, the FAO added.

It was the worst plague to hit the island since the 1950s, the FAO said.

FAO locust control expert Annie Monard told BBC Focus on Africa the plague posed a major threat to the Indian Ocean Island.

“The last one was in the 1950s and it had duration of 17 years so if nothing is done it can last for five to 10 years, depending on the conditions,” she said.

“Currently, about half the country is infested by hoppers and flying swarms – each swarm made up of billions of plant-devouring insects,” the FAO said in a statement.

“FAO estimates that about two-thirds of the island country will be affected by the locust plague by September 2013 if no action is taken.”

It said it needed donors to give more than $22m in emergency funding by June so that a full-scale spraying campaign could be launched to fight the plague.

The plague threatened pasture for livestock and rice crops – the main staple in Madagascar, the FAO said.

“Nearly 60% of the island’s more than 22m people could be threatened by a significant worsening of hunger in a country that already had extremely high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition,” it added.

An estimated 80% of people in Madagascar, which has a population of more than 22 million, live on less than a dollar a day.

The Locust Control Centre in Madagascar had treated 30,000 hectares of farmland since last October, but a cyclone in February made the situation worse, the FAO said.

The cyclone not only damaged crops but created “optimal conditions for one more generation of locusts to breed”, it added.

There are very few solutions available to combat a modern-day plague of locusts; many farmer burn branches to create smoke in the hopes of driving the insects out, but this technique is not always effective. Insecticides are sometimes used to control locusts, but this method is hazardous and may cause long-lasting consequences to the crops and humans who consume them.

C Tech Corporation offers a non-toxic and non-hazardous product, Termirepel™ to protect the crops from these ravenous insects. It is an environmentally safe product that works by repelling the insects without causing any harm to the target or non-target species. Termirepel™ is available in masterbatch and lacquer form. It can also be used as a liquid solution. It can be incorporated in agricultural films and mulches for the protection of crops against a wide range of insect species. Thus Termirepel™ could be effectively used to prevent the massive destruction of crops caused by locust swarms – a threat affecting the livelihoods of one-tenth of the world’s population.

Protecting PVC from critters!

PVC has been used extensively in a wide range of construction products for over half a century. PVC’s strong, lightweight, durable and versatile characteristics make it ideal for an ample range of applications. PVC has a versatility that helps it meet the various needs of modern architecture. PVC was first used as cable insulation as a replacement for rubber during the Second World War, but has now become the superior material through its flexibility, ease of handling in installation and inherent flame retardation. PVC cables do not harden and crack over time and find use in many applications from telecommunications to electric blankets. In Europe, about 25% of all flexible PVC is used in the production of wire and cables for the electrical industries.

UK-Ant-Species-Drawn-Irresistibly-to-Electricity-2As resistant as PVC is to abrasion and corrosion, there is one thing that PVC has absolutely no resistance against-pests! Insects such as ants and termites have been long-standing enemies of PVC who damage and eventually destroy the articles. A number of insects including termites, like beetles, ants, wasps etc secrete formic acid that has the ability to dissolve the insulation of wires thereby destroying them. About 3% of the body weight of termites is made up of formic acid. Termites cause over $2 billion every year in property damage. And that’s not all wood! Termites do not eat plastic; however, the aggressive Formosan termite is known to attack plastic in search of food. Termites often chew through softer plastics. They play havoc with buried cables and sometimes bore a hole through water pipes causing service interruptions and major damage. Tunneling can lead to damage to electrical cords and cause blackouts.

Besides termites, the other species that cause major damage to PVC articles are ants. Ants going about their daily routine grow increasingly frustrated with the presence of underground optical cables and other telecommunications equipment including lawn pedestals and terminating boxes and thereby become a growing problem for telecom companies that can blame local outages on their activities. There have been a lot of incidences where outages have been directly attributed to insectarticle_img-1 activity. Material brought into the colony can overheat equipment when it blocks air vents, increased moisture from the insects can corrode or compromise sensitive electronics, and insect attempts to push PVC wiring out of the way can ruin optical cables.

Below is an article that sheds some light on the damage caused by these critters on PVC wires and cables.


‘Crazy’ Ants, New Invasive Species, Destroys Electric Wiring, Unfazed By Conventional Pesticides

Posted: 06/10/2013 

If you thought fire ants were bad, just wait until you get a load of “crazy” ants.

 Yes, crazy ants, a species of South American ant whose colony movements are so erratic that researchers could only evoke insanity when describing them.

 Also known as raspberry or tawny crazy ants, the insects have spread to Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi since first being spotted in Houston, Texas, in 2002. They “have a taste for everything from livestock to electrical equipment,” according to ABC News. They have been known to infest homes, transformers and even electronic devices such as laptops and smartphones.

 Unlike its cousin the fire ant (also called the red ant), which it has displaced in several locations, the crazy ant is highly invasive. Moving into competitive territory, crazy ants aggressively compete for other species’ resources and establish dominance. Poison bait that works on fire ants is ineffective on crazy ants because the insects won’t take it.

 “When you talk to folks who live in the invaded areas, they tell you they want their fire ants back,” Ed LeBrun, an invasive species researcher at the University of Texas, said in a UT Austin College of Natural Sciences video. “Fire ants are in many ways very polite. They live in your yard. They form mounds and stay there, and they only interact with you if you step on their mound.”

 LeBrun, co-author of a recent study on how crazy ants have displaced fire ants in Texas’ ecosystems, explained that the insects’ opportunistic nesting habits are a key factor in their biological dominance. That dominance could mean drastic changes to an ecosystem that’s adjusted to the presence of fire ants — also an invasive species — over the past 40 years.

While they are omnivorous, the ants do not actually “feast on” electrical equipment, as has been suggested. The ants damage electronics by “forming bridges between the electrical contacts” and shorting them out, LeBrun pointed out.

 Though the crazy ant threat to electronics has not been lost on the tech media, the insects are probably more a threat to your air conditioner than they are to your iPhone. As CNET notes, “You might want to think twice about leaving your laptop outside in crazy ant territory, but the ants are more likely to get into fixed equipment, house wiring and even recreational vehicles.”

rgAlthough these pests have been a source of great concern and annoyance, killing them using poisons or traps somehow seems ethically wrong, not to mention unsafe and toxic. Thus we need to find a way to protect our wires and pipes from the action of these critters, without causing any harm to them or the environment. PVC has been under attack by the action of insects for decades; however we are no closer to finding a solution for this problem than we were hundreds of years ago-until recently. C Tech Corporation provides an exceptional solution for this dilemma!

C Tech Corporation offers a solution called Termirepel™ which is a non-toxic, non-hazardous additive that helps us keep insects at bay without causing any harm to the insect or any other species that consumes or comes in contact with it. It is a broad spectrum additive that works against more than 500 species of insects! It is an eco-friendly product that can be safely incorporated in polymers or coated on surfaces to repel insects and other animals without killing them. Termirepel™ is available in masterbatch and lacquer form, or as a liquid solution.  This product can be safely incorporated into the PVC insulation of wires and cables to keep pesky critters from damaging them!

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid- A threat to the Queen of Conifers!

The dark but delicate beauty of hemlocks has inspired various poems and songs for centuries. Feathery, lacy and graceful, these trees are gorgeous additions to the landscape. No wonder that the hauntingly beautiful hemlock is referred to as the queen of conifers! Sadly, the giant hemlocks are under attack by an invasive wt4einsect barely visible to the eye but potent enough to completely wipe out these evergreens. For nearly 60 years or so, the woolly adelgid, which originated in Japan, has been killing our beloved hemlocks. It is called a woolly adelgid, because it is covered with a “woolly”, or fluffy white waxy covering for most of its life. This adelgid primarily sucks the sap out of the tree and deprives the tree of nutrients and sugar for energy. This defoliation could result in the death of a hemlock in around 3-6 years!

The Hemlock woolly adelgid first arrived in the U.S. Pacific Northwest via nursery plants from Japan in 1924. Since then the insect has spread to more than 15 US states! These crawlers feed on the new growth of hemlocks by piercing the twigs that hold the branches, sucking the sap, and injecting toxic adelgidsaliva. The needles turn from a deep green to a grayish green and eventually die, depriving the tree of nutrition from photosynthesis. Infection is signaled by either a white, cotton-like material that appears along a tree’s twigs or by the ‘baldness’ of a tree’s upper branches. The hemlock woolly adelgid has enjoyed remarkable success in destroying trees because of its impressive reproductive potential: consider that one female in the winter generation produces an average of 200 eggs which in turn mature and each female of this generation produces on average another 200 eggs each. That’s 40,000 eggs in one year, starting from one individual female!

imagesBecause large woodland tracts of hemlocks are being decimated, the environment is being impacted negatively in several ways. Resultant erosion and heating up of streams destroys fish, other wildlife and watersheds. In Michigan, hemlocks had decreased by almost 70% in the short 20 year span between 1935 and 1955. Hemlock forests, which covered about 41% of the land area of the Bruce Peninsula, are almost non-existent today. Currently, more than 5000 acres of hemlocks across 119,000 acres in the southern tip of York County are considered infested with scattered, low level adelgid populations. These insects have killed almost 90% of hemlock trees in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. To mitigate the impact of the adelgid, the United States Forest Service has funded around $4.5 million per year in recent years!

The severity of this issue can be better understood by reading the following article;


Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in Skaneateles Lake Watershed

Posted on: June 23, 2014  

Published by: Kristina Ferrare  

 The invasive insect, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae) also known as HWA has recently been confirmed on hemlock trees in the Bahar Nature Reserve along the western shore of Skaneateles Lake in the Town of Niles, and recently confirmed by the NYS DEC along the eastern shore in the Town of Spafford. HWA was first confirmed in Cayuga County in 2012, and has significantly expanded its range into the Owasco Lake Watershed and into Fillmore Glen State Park.

 HWA is a tiny aphid-like insect that feeds on twigs at the base of hemlock needles. The damage prevents the transport of nutrients to the needles and buds, effectively starving the tree. Tree death commonly occurs six or more years after infestation in the Finger Lakes region, but may cause death within 4 years in warmer states.  HWA gets its name from the white waxy hairs that protects the insect while it feeds in the winter, appearing like masses of white wool along the stems of hemlock branches.

Hemlock trees are known as keystone species – other species of plants and wildlife depend on hemlock trees as a food source, shelter, and insulation during summer and winter months. Without hemlock, the remaining ecological community also becomes threatened.  Hemlock is found in the deep coves and steep slopes characteristic of the southern end of Skaneateles Lake and much of the Finger Lakes region.

HWA has been in eastern US for well over 60 years, but didn’t get a foothold in NY until it was found in the lower Hudson Valley in the mid 1980’s. It has rapidly spread in recent years, likely aided by mild temperatures.  Recent cold weather has helped to slow the spread of HWA, but because it reproduces quickly, will have only a short term impact. Highly effective pesticide treatments are available, and research into biological controls in the Finger Lakes region is continuing.

Skaneateles Lake is the drinking water for the City of Syracuse and the widespread loss of hemlock has ecological consequences that can trigger loss of water quality in the lake. Treating hemlock trees for HWA should be done with caution in order to prevent unnecessary pesticide contamination into the Lake. 

_Woolly Adlegid2Evidently, unless proper measures are taken, hemlock, which is one of the most common trees in the US, may soon drop off the list, going the way of the now-vanished chestnut and elm due to the hemlock woolly adelgid. Infested hemlock trees can be protected individually with chemicals and insecticides. However, the costs associated with application, environmental safety concerns about applying toxic insecticides, and the tremendous reproductive potential of the adelgid makes this approach less feasible on a broad scale in natural areas. Also, it is obvious that simply removing and destroying infested stock, which proved so successful when dealing with individual infested trees, is not a feasible long term solution for addressing a large population of trees.

At C Tech Corporation, we offer a safe and infallible solution to deal with these tiny insects. Termirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous product that primarily repels insects from the application. It is a broad spectrum repellent which works against almost 500 species of pestering bugs thus efficaciously fending them away from the application.  The best feature of this product is that it is an eco-friendly product that causes no harm to the insect as well as humans and the environment. It is available in masterbatch and lacquer form, and as a liquid solution. To keep these insects at bay, this product can be coated on the tree trunks in lacquer form. The repelling mechanism of the product would ward off the hemlock woolly adelgid and any other insect that could harm the hemlock trees. Thus, using Termirepel™ would effectively ensure that our cherished hemlocks remain protected from this destructive pest!

The tree of life in danger!

img051813_04In Sanskrit, coconut trees are referred to as “Kalpa Vriksha” which means, “The tree that gives all that is necessary for life.” This is no exaggeration, because they have been an important source of food, clothing and shelter since time immemorial. However, our beloved coconut tree is fighting for its own life, and along with it, the lives of thousands of people whose livelihood depends on it. Cocolisap (Aspidiotus destructor rigidus) is a small plant parasite that may cause the demise of our trees, if not given proper cure and care. Based on a report by The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, around 2.1 million coconut trees are now in various stages of infestation by this pest!

Cocolisap feeds on the leaves of young palms and on the surface of fruits that result in the yellowing and wilting of leaves, till the entire coconut tree dies. It prevents photosynthesis, causing premature nut fall and low productivity. The cocolisap attacks the coconut tree by eating the leaves, fruits, and flowers until only the trunk is left. The insect feeds on the sap of the tree and injects toxic enzymes, resulting in discolored leaves and deformed plant tissues that retard the growth of the coconut tree. By this time, the tree is beyond resuscitation, and would be worth only the salvaged coco-lumber. Wind or the transport of infested coconuts can spread cocolisap. Although coconut is the preferred host, cocolisap also attacks fruit trees such as mangosteen, lanzones, etc.

Coco-lisap1Since 2010, when the first signs of infestation by coconut scale insects or cocolisap appeared, nothing much had been achieved to control the spread of the destructive pest. Recently, the government acknowledged the severity of the problem when it declared a state of calamity in the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) zone and Basilan. Approximately one million trees are said to be at risk valued at $ 760 million! The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) reports that annual production of coconut dropped by 3.3 % – from 15.86 million MT in 2012 to 15.34 million MT last year. The local coconut industry has already lost at least $ 4.6 million because of the massive infestation and the losses are mounting as each day passes. By mid-2014, the cocolisap situation reached outbreak proportions affecting more than 60% of the total coconut production in affected areas!

This issue can be better understood by reading the following article,


Cocolisap damage in Basilan reaches P18M

 June 16, 2014

By Noel Tarrazona

 ZAMBOANGA CITY: Close to 1,000 coconut farmer owners and workers in Isabela City in Basilan have suffered income losses after 107,356 coconut trees and coconut seedlings were reportedly damaged caused by cocolisap, a swarm of coconut scale insects that often attack coconut trees during dry spell period.

 Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Provincial Development Manager Efren Carba told The Manila Times that the damage cost of different plantations have already reached an estimate of P 18 million and if left unattended this will certainly have an adverse economic effect not only to the coconut farm stakeholders but also those workers in the oil milling industry.

 Carba said his office also received reports that other trees like lansones, banana and papaya were also affected by the swarm of scale pests in Isabela.

 PCA earlier requested its research office from Davao to address the growing damage in Basilan and a team introduced bio control measures like the introduction of parasite beetles which can terminate the pests by eating them. The bio control seems to be of little effect since more coconut trees were reportedly damaged.

 Carba further recommended the continuous pruning and burning of infested parts of coconut trees to minimize the extent of damage.

 In Zamboanga City, particularly in Barangay Sinunuc, a group of farmers reported yellowish coconut trees that were showing symptoms of the presence of scale insect pests. Carba immediately sent a team of specialists to the area but reported a false alarm. The yellowish symptoms of coconut were caused by worm-insects which are more manageable and less destructive.

 Carba further appealed to the Quarantine Office of the Department of Agriculture in Zamboanga to quarantine all coco products coming from Basilan and these include coco seedling and coconut shells.

 “We should be watchful and vigilant so these pests will not infest our coconut trees here in Zamboanga,” Carba added.

 The PCA reported that 18 villages have already confirmed the presence of these scale pests in Isabela City in Basilan. Isabela has 45 barangays and 33 of these barangays are with huge coconut plantations.

ryThe Philippines has about 3.5 million coconut farmers and 26% of the total agricultural land is devoted to coconut farming alone! This highlights the severity of the situation and the need to find a solution for the problem before this pest threatens to wipe out our coconut trees. Until now, quick and toxic methods had been used to combat cocolisap infestation. However, the conventional method that includes spraying and injecting the coconut trunk with neonicotinoids, have proven to be lethal to the environment and the people. Thus, we are in dire need of a solution that helps protect the coconut trees from damage, while at the same time does not harm the environment in any way.

At C Tech Corporation, we offer a safe and foolproof solution to deal with these destructive pests. Termirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous product that primarily repels insects from the application. It is a broad spectrum repellent which works against almost 500 species of pestering bugs thus efficaciously fending them away from the application. The best feature of this product is that it is environmentally safe and causes no harm to the insect as well as humans and the environment. It is available in masterbatch and lacquer form, and as a liquid solution. To keep these insects at bay, this product can be coated on trunks of the coconut and palm trees in lacquer form. The repelling mechanism of the product would ward off the cocolisap and any other insect that could harm our coconuts. Thus, using Termirepel™ would effectively ensure that our future generations do not have to live without our cherished coconut trees!

The Annoying blue bugs of autumn!

Since time immemorial, the entire insect world has seemed intent on either stealing our blood or stinging us or ruining our crops and plants. Either way, they can make life miserable. People spend a lot of time in their yards, planting, pruning, and caring for their landscapes, with the aim of protecting their plants and trees from insects and making sure that they grow beautifully. However, many trees and shrubs have problems with pests such as aphids or other sucking insects. These insects excrete honeydew, a sweet, partially digested plant sap that is a main food of many ants. Plants with these sucking pests not only attract ants, but help feed and grow entire ant colonies. One such type of aphid is the blue ash aphid.

Woolly aphids (1)Blue ash aphids are small, blue-colored insects that come from blue ash trees. They arrive after the first frost of the new winter season melts away every year. These insects are known by several names, conifer root aphid, blue ash aphid, Oregon ash aphid or smoky-winged ash aphid. Aphids feed by piercing host tissue and sucking plant sap through tube-like mouthparts. While removing plant sap, aphids may also inject toxins, plant growth regulators or pathogens along with saliva to aid feeding. Aphids excrete large amounts of honeydew which is essentially unprocessed plant sap. Many insects use honeydew and therefore are attracted to these colonies. The congregations give tree trunks a fuzzy blue appearance that extends up to three feet away from the base. Damage to the roots of fir trees can cause yellowing and stunting of small immature firs.

The blue ash aphids have a similar life cycle as normal, but instead of attacking the above ground parts of the plant they attack the roots of the plant. Like ordinary aphids they suck the sap from the plant thereby weakening it and possibly transmitting viruses and other diseases. When the infestation is heavy the plant or tree will wilt especially on dry days. The leaves may turn yellow and fall prematurely and the plant will be stunted. These pests often go largely unnoticed because they are underground. The damage they do show up mostly when the conditions are dry.

The below article would help understand the situation better.


Blue ash aphids invade Spokane

 Posted: Oct 20, 2009

Kevin Randal

SPOKANE, Wash. – Millions of little blue bugs 7631963_origcan be seen just about anywhere in the northwest.

You’ve probably seen them, there in your face, they invade your yard and many are asking what can be done to stop them.

Experts say the bugs are Blue Ash Aphids that come from Blue Ash Trees in the area. They come after the first frost of the season every year and stay for a couple weeks at least.

Phone calls have been flooding pest control companies and garden shops wanting to know how to get rid of them. Experts tell KHQ local news there’s nothing anyone can do but wait for them to leave.

Trees and plants should not be affected by them because most plant life has gone dormant anyway.

Experts also say they’re not a threat to public health.

The blue ash aphids are more of a nuisance than a threat. They are harmless to humans except for the sneezes they cause as we breathe them in. These pesky little gnat-like insects make breathing a challenge. Since they arrive in large swarms, complete eradication is not worth the time or effort and may be impossible. Thus we need a foolproof solution to deal with these pests.

At C Tech Corporation, we offer a safe and foolproof solution to deal with these tiny insects. Termirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous product that primarily repels insects from the application. It is a broad spectrum repellent which works against almost 500 species of pestering bugs thus efficaciously fending them away from the application. The best feature of this product is that it is environmentally safe and causes no harm to the insect as well as humans and the environment. It is available in masterbatch and lacquer form, and as a liquid solution. To keep these insects at bay, this product can be coated on the tree trunks in lacquer form. The repelling mechanism of the product would ward off the blue ash aphids and any other insect that could harm our trees.

Attack of the Bagrada Bugs!

At a time when increasing agricultural produce and improving agricultural yield is given paramount importance, our fruits and vegetables have been under siege Bagrada-hilaris2by one more pest. This is the adult Bagrada bug, which goes after winter crops such as cabbage, kale, broccoli, arugula, cauliflower and radish. It sucks the sap out of tender leaves, leaving puncture marks and a stippled or wilted leaf. The Bagrada bug, Bagrada hilaris, also called the painted bug, is a stink bug that attacks various vegetable crops and weedy mustards and is particularly devastating to young seedlings and leafy greens. Native to northern Africa, the Bagrada turned up in the United States in Los Angeles in the June of 2008.

The Bagrada sucks the juices from the bite and leaves a toxic sort of saliva at the scene of the crime that can cause the plant to die even after the bug has left. Further, even if the Bagrada’s sap-sucking ways aren’t fatal, they can cause extensive wilting and yellowing, and stunt the growth of their hosts. These vile pests feed by inserting piercing mouth parts into plant tissues, which creates starburst-shaped lesions on leaves and stems. Continued feeding causes leaf scorch, stunting, blind terminals and forked or multiple heads on broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Initial damage to leaves is observed along the margins as stippling, or small tan or white dots left where the leaves were pierced by insect mouthparts and the juices sucked out. If feeding pressure is severe enough, the stippled areas merge and the leaf eventually wilts and dies.

Adding to their nastiness is the fact that Bagradas are capable of flying up wind to find new plants bagrada_bugs_r620x349to feast on, and that they lay most of their eggs in the soil, thus making traditional predators worthless as possible controls. The infestation may be widespread covering the stems and leaves of the tree, leaving fecal droppings on the backsides of leaves. Local growers estimated that in some fields Bagrada bugs caused as much as 35% yield loss in green cabbage and greater than 35% yield loss in red cabbage! In broccoli, damage estimates by growers have ranged from 15‐30% losses due to these insects.


The severity of this issue can be better understood by reading the below article.


Pesky Bagrada bugs expand northward in California


Vicky Boyd

Bagrada bugs, which were first confirmed in California six years ago, have been steadily expanding their range to the east and north.

They now have been confirmed as far north as Yolo County and have taken up residence in counties stretching from Santa Clara and San Mateo west to Fresno and Inyo counties, according to a University of California news release.

The university has tracked the pest’s expansion using citizen scientists.

Bagrada bugs, which have also hit crops in Arizona’s Yuma Valley, prefer cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and broccoli.

In home gardens, they also have been found on green beans, cantaloupe, corn, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and sunflowers.

In addition, the bugs have been found on ornamentals, including sweet alyssum, stock and candytuft.

Adult Bagrada bugs are about the size of a watermelon seeds with black backs and white and orange markings.

1Immature nymphs are more round with red, black and white markings. They can be mistaken for ladybird beetles.

Both adults and nymphs have piercing and sucking mouth parts. As they feed, they remove plant sap and cause dead spots plant leaves and stems where they feed.

Under severe infestations, especially with young transplants, the pest can stunt, deform and even kill plants.

Originally it was hoped that Northern California’s colder winter temperatures would help prevent their northerly march.

But bugs simply take up refuge in the top layer of soil around the crops and appear to survive.

The Bagrada bug lays most of its eggs in the soil, so natural predators such as wasps aren’t effective controls. Picking the bugs off plants by hand is not feasible because the infestations are so thick and sudden, with multiple generations occupying one plant at a time. Thus we need a solution which would effectively keep the Bagrada population in check, keeping them away from our vegetables and crops, while at the same time not having any negative impact on the vegetables or the environment.

C Tech Corporation offers a product called Termirepel™, which is a non-toxic, non-hazardous, environmentally safe insect repellent. It can repel more than 500 species of insects on account of it being a broad spectrum anti-insect repellent. The most striking feature of Termirepel™ is that it neither kills the target species, nor the non-target species. It will simply keep the insects away from the application. This product is available in masterbatch and lacquer form, and as a liquid solution. Termirepel™ can be added in mulches or incorporated in agricultural bags and films, which could be used to keep our vegetables and fruits safe and guarded against the pesky Bagrada bugs!

Termirepel™- An effective solution against Spider mites…

2Spider mites are members of the Acari (mite) family Tetranychidae, which includes about 1,200 other species. Spider mites are extremely tiny creatures, less than 1mm (0.04 in) in size and they vary in color. Among plant pests, mites are amongst the most difficult to control, and are responsible for a significant portion of all pesticides used on ornamentals. Individual spider mites are almost microscopic, yet when they occur in large numbers, they can cause serious plant damage. They generally live on the undersides of leaves of plants, where they may spin protective silk webs, and they can cause damage by puncturing the plant cells to feed. Spider mites are known to feed on several hundred species of plants. They lay small, spherical, initially transparent eggs and many species spin silk webbing to help protect the colony from predators; they get the “spider” part of their common name from this webbing. A single mature female can spawn a population of a million mites in a month or less. This accelerated reproductive rate allows spider mite populations to adapt quickly to changing conditions. Usually one should look out for Spider mite damage in the summer months when the temperatures are high and conditions are dry as these conditions are most suitable to spider mite proliferation.

Many different species attack shade trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. Spider mites attack a wide range of plants, including peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, corn, cannabis, and strawberries. The top of the leaves look like they have a bronze cast to them usually, but sometimes the look may be a silvery cast or even just a dull gray look. When spider mites attack the underside of leaves, we may mistake them for dust as they give a brownish brazen tinge.

5Spider mites lack chewing or piercing-sucking mouthparts. They use a pair of needle-like stylets to rupture leaf cells and then push their mouth into the torn tissue to drink the cell sap. Small groups of cells are killed, which results in a stippling or speckling on the upper leaf surface. On plants which are heavily infested, the foliage will often become gray, yellow, bleached, dry, or bronzed, with leaf drop, loss of vigor and eventual death if untreated. With a magnifying hand lens, cast skins, eggshells, and individual mites as well as mite colonies are visible on the undersides of leaves.

An early sign of infestation is a very fine, light speckling or localized pale yellow spots on the upper surface of leaves. Careful examination of the undersides of affected leaves, preferable with a hand lens or magnifying glass, will reveal colonies of mites. A more generalized bronzing discoloration develops as infestation progresses.

Spider mites continue to be a pest problem in dry beans, soybeans and field corn in droughty areas. When left untreated, spider mites can cause extensive and irreversible damage to soybean foliage, so growers need to keep an eye on their fields – especially if the weather remains dry. Researchers muse that ‘Amino acids are more available to insects when they feed on stressed soybeans instead of healthy soybeans’. This means that the mites can proactively use these nutrients from stressed plants to synthesize proteins for use in their reproduction.

Spider mite damage is typically most visible at first in the most stressed areas of the field; this often includes field edges. Soybean growers are likely to first notice foliar damage in the form of subtle stippling of leaves, which can progress to bronzing.

1If a mite infestation develops, leaves may be severely damaged and the food manufacturing ability of the plants progressively reduced. If an infestation is severe, leaves may be killed. In corn, effects on yield are most severe when mites start damaging leaves at or above the ear level. Infestations may reduce corn grain yields due to poor seed fill and they have been associated with accelerated plant dry down in the fall. The quality and yield of silage corn also may decline due to mite feeding.

Damage is similar in soybeans, and includes leaf spotting, leaf droppage, accelerated senescence and pod shattering, as well as yield loss. Early and severe mite injury left untreated can completely eliminate yields. More commonly, mite injury occurring during the late vegetative and early reproductive growth stages will reduce soybean yields 40%-60%. Spider mites can cause yield reductions as long as green pods are present.

Not just soybean and corn, other crops of great economic importance like coffee beans have to bear the brunt of a mite infestation. Let us look at the following news article:

Spider mites latest threat to Colombian coffee crop

September 06, 2012|Reuters

Colombian farmer Jairo Morales is worried. His coffee trees are speckled with crimson as tiny red spider mites attack his plantation, posing a threat not only to his livelihood but also to output in the world’s No. 3 coffee growing country.

The mites cling to the leaves of coffee plants and gradually turn them reddish until they wither and die.

The threat comes at a time in which Colombia is struggling to raise annual coffee output to 11 million 60-kilogram sacks, the country’s long-term average.

The tiny arachnids have always been a menace to coffee crops in the Andean country, but other predator insects have usually kept them at bay.

“This has been a surprise. I’d never seen anything like this in the many years that I’ve been growing coffee. I often see small areas by the side of the road, but never an attack like this,” Morales said.

Red spider mites have attacked many plantations in Caldas, the No. 4 coffee producing region in Colombia, contributing about 10 percent to the country’s total coffee output.

Morales suspect that the increasing number of spider mites could be a consequence of the ashes that covered the area after the Nevado del Ruiz volcano eruption in June, which apparently killed the insects that prey on the arachnids.

“The risk is that they ‘burn’ the leaves, and it takes a long time for the plants to recover,” said the farmer at his plantation on a mountain slope in the Caldas region.

“If the coffee trees fail to grow branches and flower we’ll lose the crop that we’re about to harvest and we can lose next year’s because they will not flower,” he said.

Crops in the Quindio, Risaralda and Valle del Cauca regions also have been hit, though less severely, according to the coffee grower’s federation.

Colombia, the world’s top producer of high quality arabica beans, has missed its annual coffee production goals for three consecutive years due to torrential rains brought on by the weather phenomenon La Nina.

Heavy rains prevent flowering, which last year resulted in an output of 7.8 million sacks, the lowest in three decades. Production this year is expected to be around 8 million bags.

Moreover due to their ever growing population, spider mites quickly adapt to changes and learn to resist pesticides, so chemical control methods can become somewhat ineffective when the same pesticide is used over a prolonged period. Spider mites are difficult to control with pesticides, and many commonly used insecticides aggravate the problem by destroying their natural enemies. Use of the wrong pesticide at the wrong time can result in a season-long infestation of mites, which will be difficult to control with miticides. Although the labels on common pesticides do include spider mites, they usually contain pyrethroid. Because they contain pyrethroids they will be highly toxic to all beneficial insects such as predatory mites, big-eyed bugs and other insects that would normally prey on the spider mites. What is likely to happen following a pesticide application is that some of the spider mites will be killed and most or all of the predators also will be killed. Very quickly, the spider mites that were not killed by the application will begin to produce eggs, and when those eggs hatch there will not be any predators present to kills the mites. Thus use of conventional pesticides will not effectively deal with the problem, but just might aggravate it further! The conventional pesticides and insecticides can thus not ensure that the problem won’t recur.

Termirepel™ a product by C Tech Corporation can provide much needed relief from this problem. Termirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous insect and pest repellent. It is effective against a wide array of pests that attack the agricultural sector, some worse and difficult to eradicate like spider mites. Termirepel™ is available in the form of liquid concentrate which can be further diluted and made into a spray, to be sprayed on the plants. Termirepel™ is also available in the form of polymer masterbatches to be added to agricultural films and micro-irrigation pipes during processing. This product will not kill the spider mite population but will just discourage their proliferation as well as return. It is designed in such as a way so as to discourage subsequent attacks. Thus it works on the principle of prevention being better than cure.




Mealybugs damages crops!

downloadMealybugs are common sap-feeding pests that infest a wide range of houseplants and greenhouse plants. Mealybugs are insects in the family Pseudococcidae, unarmored scale insects found in moist, warm climates. Mealybugs occur in all parts of the world. There are about 275 species of Mealybugs known to occur in the continental United States. Mealybugs are common insect pests that tend to live together in clusters in protected parts of plants, such as leaf axils, leaf sheaths, between twining stems and under loose bark. They suck sap from plants and then excrete the excess sugars as a substance called honeydew. This lands on the leaves and stems where it is often colonized by sooty moulds, giving the surfaces a blackened appearance. Mealybugs are active all year round on houseplants and in greenhouses.

images (3)Since mealybugs are hemimetabolous insects, they do not undergo complete metamorphosis in the true sense of the word, i.e. there are no clear larval, pupal and adult stages, and the wings do not develop internally. However, male mealybugs do exhibit a radical change during their life cycle, changing from wingless, ovoid nymphs to wasp-like flying adults. Mealybug females feed on plant sap, normally in roots or other crevices, and in a few cases the bottoms of stored fruit. They attach themselves to the plant and secrete a powdery wax layer used for protection while they suck the plant juices. The males on the other hand are short-lived as they do not feed at all as adults and only live to fertilize the females.

download (2)They are considered pests as they feed on plant juices of greenhouse plants, house plants and subtropical trees and also act as a vector for several plant diseases. Mealybugs are found mainly on greenhouse plants and houseplants, especially cacti and succulents, African violets, bougainvillea, citrus plantsfuchsiagrape vines, hoya, orchids  oleander, passion flowerpeach and tomato. Some other mealybug species can attack outdoor plants, such as ceanothus, laburnum, New Zealand flax and redcurrant.

Mealybugs tend to be serious pests in the presence of ants because the ants protect them from predators and parasites. Mealybugs also infest some species of carnivorous plant such as Sarracenia (pitcher plants); in such cases it is difficult to eradicate them. Small infestations may not inflict significant damage. In larger amounts though, they can induce leaf drop. Infestations are usually first noticed as a fluffy white wax produced in the leaf axils or other sheltered places on the plant. The insects or their orange-pink eggs can be found underneath this substance

Heavy infestations may result in an accumulation of honeydew. This makes plants sticky and encourages the growth of sooty moulds, giving the leaf and stem surfaces a blackened appearance. Damage is caused by mealybugs feeding on host tissues and injecting toxins or plant pathogens into host plants. In addition, mealybugs secrete a waste product, honeydew, which is a syrupy, sugary liquid that falls on the leaves, coating them with a shiny, sticky film. Honeydew serves as a medium for the growth of sooty mold fungus that reduces the plant’s photosynthetic abilities and ruins the plant’s appearance. Feeding by mealybugs can cause premature leaf drop, dieback, and may even kill plants if left unchecked. Severe infestations will reduce plant vigor and stunt growth. Heavy infestations may cause premature leaf fall.

Mealybugs can be found on all plant parts, but especially roots, rhizomes, pseudobulbs, and the underside of leaves. They are adept at hiding on roots and rhizomes deep in the potting media, in crevices and under sheaths. Unlike scales, mealybugs wander in search of feeding places and will leave plants, and hide under rims of pots and trays, in bench crevices, and even drop from overhead plants. Spread of crawlers can occur both indoors and outdoors by floating on breezes or air currents produced by circulating and heater fans. The occurrence of infestation hotspots may be due to crawlers settling on plants where the air currents are the weakest. Similar effects are found with aphids, scales, and spider mites.

There are different kinds of Mealybugs that affect different crops like bamboo mealybug, citrus mealybug, and cotton mealybug. There have been numerous instances of crop damage owing to mealybug all over the world. The most prominent amongst them is the incident reported widely about Bt. Cotton getting affected in India due to mealybugs. The article is as follows:

Bt cotton not pest resistant

Gur Kirpal Singh Ashk, TNN Aug 24, 2007, 02.39am IST

PATIALA: The attack of the mealy bug on the Bt cotton crop in Punjab has stripped it of its aura and destroyed the illusion that it is resistant to all pests. Two years back the Punjab government had described the introduction of Bt cotton as a great achievement. However, this season, the third year after its introduction, thousands of acres in the Malwa region are facing attack by the pest.

Desperate farmers, gripped by panic, are resorting to intensive pesticide sprays and some of them have started ploughing their fields. The state directorate of agriculture has put out advertisements in vernacular daily papers prescribing a list of pesticides for spray to control the bug.

Now agricultural experts have also started saying Bt cotton is not totally free from attacks by pests. Punjab agricultural director BS Sidhu said he or his department had never claimed that Bt Cotton was pest free. “Rather, we had told cotton growers that, except for the bollworm group, other pests could attack Bt cotton like any other cotton crop. Two years back the Punjab government had described the introduction of Bt cotton as a great achievement.

However, this season, the third year of its cultivation, thousands of acres in the Malwa region are facing attack by the pest. Desperate farmers, gripped by panic, are resorting to intensive pesticide sprays and some of them have started ploughing their fields.

The state directorate of agriculture has put out advertisements in vernacular daily papers prescribing a list of pesticides for spray to control the bug.

Umendra Dutt, executive director of the Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM), Punjab, put a question before them that if Bt cotton was safe from only one pest then why was the hype about Bt cotton’s invincibility created. He said earlier cotton seeds were available for Rs 20 to 30 per kg and the farmers were then lured to purchase the Bt cotton seed for Rs 3,600 per kg.

The previous Congress government had put out official advertisements that made tall claims about the advantages of Bt cotton, among them an increase in yield by 25% to 28% per hectare, net increase in income by Rs 10-15,000 per hectare and savings on agrochemicals up to Rs 1,000 per hectare.

Talking to TOI, Dutt claimed within a span of two months Rs 500 crore worth of pesticides to control the mealy bug were sold and, if the trend continues, the total sum may surpass Rs 800 crore.

Apart from pesticides farmers had also applied chemical fertilizers like DAP and urea. “Not only causing huge losses to the already distressed farmers, the mealy bug has destroyed the illusion of Bt cotton’s infallibility.

“As the mealy bug is destroying the cotton crop in Punjab’s Malwa region, in desperation the farmers are intensively spraying pesticides that are toxic and costly on their crop.”


There have been various other reports pertaining to damages caused by mealybugs in the agricultural sector in countries like Thailand, etc. Early in 2008, organic farmer Ram Kalaspurkar of Yavatmal, Maharashtra in India had vivid photographic evidence of mealy bug infestations on demonstration plots of different seed companies in Vidarbha, all bearing the Bollgard label. He was convinced that the mealy bug entered Vidarbha cotton fields through Bt cotton seeds imported from the US.

Kalaspurkar described how, when the cotton plants died at the end of the season, the mealy bug moved to nearby plants such as the Congress weed. By mid-June when farmers were ready to plant the new cotton crop or another crop, the bug had multiplied enormously.

A year later, scientists at the Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) in Nagpur, India, corroborated Kalaspurkar’s findings, reporting widespread infestation of an exotic mealy bug species on Indian cotton. The scientists conducted a survey at 47 locations in the nine cotton-growing states, and found two mealybug species infesting the cotton plants from all nine states: the solenopsis mealy bug, Penacoccus solenopsis, and the pink hibiscus mealy bug, Maconellicoccus hirsutus. However, P. solenopsis was the predominant species, comprising 95 percent of the samples examined. Furthermore, the scientists confirmed that P. solenopsis is a new exotic species to India originating in the US, where it was reported to damage cotton and other crops in 14 plant families.

During 2006, the mealy bug caused economic damage, reducing yields by up to 40-50 percent in infested fields in several parts of Gujarat.   At around the same time, mealy bug infestations were found in all the nine cotton-growing states: Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Severe economic damage was reported in 2007 in four districts of Punjab, two districts of Haryana, and low to moderate damage in parts of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Nearly 2 000 acres of cotton crop were destroyed by the mealy bug by mid-July 2006, and over 100 acres of bug-infested Bt cotton was uprooted in Arike-Kalan village in Bathinda. A report published by the Centre for Agro-Informatics Research in Pakistan in 2006 also stated that the exotic mealybug P. solenopsis had destroyed 0.2 million bales and 50 000 acres of cotton area across Pakistan, especially in Punjab and Sindh provinces. It warned that the pest was still increasing, and could result in an epidemic in the cotton-growing areas if unchecked.

Thus is the unstemmed devastation caused by this tiny bug. Methods hitherto used to combat this menace include the use of toxic pesticides, which come with their own set of cons. A effective and green solution needs to be devised to counter this destruction. Termirepel™, a product by C Tech Corporation aims to do just that. Termirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous insect and pest repellant. It can be best described as a termite aversive. It is effective against a multitude of other insects and pests like weevils, beetles, thirps, bugs, etc. It works on the mechanism of repellence and therefore does not kill the target as well as non-target species. Being non-toxic, it does not harm the soil and environment. Termirepel™ can be added to a thin agricultural film to protect cotton and other crops. It can also be incorporated in irrigation pipes to ward of pests.




Prevent apple sawflies from destroying our apples in a non-toxic way!

Apples are easy to grow, productive, and there are shapes and sizes for every download (1)garden. They can be susceptible to a range of pests, diseases and disorders, but in most cases action can be taken to prevent or control the problem. It is a melancholy fact that the apple is attacked by a wide range of pests and diseases which at worst can reduce the crop to zero, and damage or even kill the tree. We learned this the hard way. It’s true that you can get some sort of crop by leaving nature to itself, but for consistent quality, and some years to get even one clean apple, you need to understand and outwit the little beasties and bugs. Apple sawfly is one among the many perpetrators of apple damage.

download (3) Adult apple sawflies are small insects with blackish brown heads and thorax and brown abdomens. The caterpillar-like larvae initially tunnel beneath the skin of the developing apples, causing a scarring and then further damage.

When apple trees are in flower, the sawfly, Hoplocampa testudinea, lays its eggs in the developing fruit. In June, the larvae tunnel their way under the skin of the fruit and into the core, causing the images (3)apples to fall. When they’re ready, they tunnel out of the apples, creating a second hole, and then bury themselves in the soil to pupate. Sometimes the larvae die and don’t make it to the middle of the apple, in which case the apples mature, but they’ll have ribbon scars and are sometimes misshapen.

European Apple sawfly overwinters as a mature larva in a cocoon a few centimeters below the soil surface. The larva pupates in the spring and adults emerge during the pink stage of apples. The female European apple sawfly lays eggs just after the king flower opens. Each female lays about 30 ph1-35deggs singly in the opening flowers. Eggs are deposited singly at the calyx end of the flower, often at the base of or between the stamens. Sap seeps out of the wound made by the female when laying her eggs.   It turns red/brown and can be a good early warning of an attack.  A larva hatches after two weeks, newly hatched larva burrow into the apple and feed on tissue just below the skin. As the larva matures, it tunnels deeper into the seed cavity and feeds on one or two seeds. Once under the skin of the fruitlet it tunnels in the surface layer before it burrows into the core. If it does not reach the core it still causes superficial damage which results in the characteristic curved scars. It tunnels out an area of the fruit, filling it with wet brown droppings or frass. Larvae may move on and attack two or three apples, and sometimes more than one grub is found in a single fruit. Often the fruitlets attacked later have masses of frass at the eye where the entry hole was made. After two weeks’ feeding, the larvae leave the fruit to overwinter in the soil. There is one generation per year. Diapause  stage may last for up to three years.

First instar larvae feed beneath the fruit skin and create a heavily russeted, images (1)winding, ribbon-like scar that spirals out from the calyx end. If larva ceases feeding at this early stage, for whatever reason, this damage will likely be seen on mature fruit at harvest. If this tunneling stops early, tunneling scars are short and indistinguishable from damage caused by the tarnished plant bug. Second instar larvae tunnel into fruit towards the seed cavity. Reddish-brown frass is often seen protruding from an exit hole in fruit (Figure 4-60). Larval feeding into the core of the apple often causes fruit to abort, while sub-surface feeding creates scars visible on the fruit at harvest.

As the larva molts and matures, it moves towards the seed cavity or adjacent fruit. As the larva feeds internally, it enlarges its exit hole with wet, reddish-apples_dock-sawfly_02_zoombrown frass on the side of the fruit. The larva moves to other fruit in the cluster to continue feeding. A single larva can damage several apples. Damaged fruit drops during the “June drop” period. Fruitlets that suffered only initial feeding damage by a larva will stay on the tree and develop as fruits. These fruits are misshapen and have a long ribbon-like scar about 4mm wide, often starting at the eye end of the fruit and extending around the circumference.

The European apple sawfly is an introduced pest that was first noted in North America infesting crabapples on Long Island and Vancouver Island during 1939 and 1940, respectively. Since then it has spread into southern New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the Southern Tier of New York State. The pest is especially troublesome in the apple-growing regions of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the Hudson Valley of New York. In the Pacific Northwest, the European apple sawfly appears to be limited to Vancouver Island. The pest is distributed over the entire continent of Europe but is most common in the north. It is found throughout England but is abundant only in certain localities. The larvae feed on all apple and crabapple varieties but show a preference for early or long-blooming varieties with a heavy set of fruit. Sawflies are primitive hymenopterous insects and are related to bees, wasps, and ants. Although two generations a year have been reported in England, only one seems to occur in populations in North America.

The apple sawfly now occurs in almost all the apple orchards. In 1988, it cause near about 14% of damage in the commercial apple orchard in Quebec. 

Let’s take a look at the following article which shows how apple sawflies are a nuisance;


Battling European sawfly and powdery mildew

By Dan Woolley | Apr 2011

Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association (NSFGA) members recently received some expert advice on how to deal with two increasingly prevalent problems in Annapolis Valley orchards – European sawfly and powdery mildew

European sawfly
lloErika Bent, who operates Agricultural Pest Monitoring, told attendees of the recent NSFGA annual meeting the European sawfly was only an occasional problem in Nova Scotia until 2005 and 2006. By the 2008 harvest, fruit injury level ranged from zero to six per cent. Six per cent is “quite high” for one insect, said Bent.

Sawfly larvae overwinter in the soil, pupate in the spring and emerge as adult flies just before the apple trees bloom to lay their eggs in apple buds and blossoms, Bent explained, adding it takes eight to 10 days for the sawfly’s eggs to hatch. Within four weeks, they are fully grown larvae feeding on the fruitlets.

Growers can reduce sawfly damage by applying insecticide when the larvae are moving from fruitlet to fruitlet, said Bent, who during trapping research in 2007 began capturing adult sawflies about May 22 and spotted their first eggs by June 5. She recommends spraying for sawfly at the time apple blooms are opening.

Control is difficult, Bent admits, as growers cannot spray for the adult sawfly during bloom. Instead, she suggests spraying as close as possible to the bloom to reduce the adult insects, then spraying again after the bloom to stop the larvae from moving between the developing fruit.

Currently, there are two insecticides registered for sawfly in Canada, Bent explained, and one of them – Guthion – is being phased out, leaving Assail as the only control for sawfly.

Quebec and Ontario are introducing a predatory parasite for European sawfly, but it is not a stand-alone control, she said.

The saying goes, “An Apple a day keeps the doctor away”. But now the case has become that the apple themselves need a doctor to keep them safe from vicious pests like apple sawfly. Conventionally people use two methods to fight this problem. One is to physically remove the tainted apples from the orchards so that the other apples do not get infected. Following this method is very tiring and is not at an efficient method to protect the apples from pests. The other method is using toxic and hazardous insecticides. Use of insecticides is harmful as these chemicals generally find their way in the food chain and harm living beings.

Termirepel™; a solution of C Tech Corporation is both effective and efficient and it does not harm target or non-target species. Termirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous and environment friendly product which works against pests like termites, ants, beetles and near about 500 species of other insects including apple sawfly. Termirepel™ is available in masterbatch form and can be incorporated in agricultural film and mulches to protect the plantation. It is available in liquid form and can be sprayed around the apple trees.

Termirepel™ works on the mechanism of repellence and is the best green solution available to protect fruits, crops, vegetation from the voracious pests.

Pests threatening global food Security!!

The dark cloud of pests looming over the agriculture sector is spreading and images (1)increasing at an alarming rate! Pests, considered as an age old enemy of agriculture, continue to thwart the sector by destroying the crops. Though tiny, they are capable of large scale destruction. They appear in large numbers, attack the vegetation and many times destroy the entire field or the produce. On average the pests are known to cause 10-16% agricultural produce loss. Toxic and hazardous pesticides of worth million dollars are used to curb this pest problem to little effect.

Moreover, the pests have now started moving to regions, previously unsuitable for their existence, because of global warming. It has been reported that pests are imagesspreading towards the North and South Poles at a rate of nearly 3 km a year! This poses a great threat to global food security. With the increasing population, the demand for the food supply is increasing rapidly. In the midst of such situation, the report that the pests are spreading across the globe is surely alarming. The threat posed by these vile pests could lead towards a chaotic situation endangering the global food security. Let’s take a look at the following article which reports the spread of the pests;

Spread of crop pests threatens global food security as Earth warms

A new study has revealed that global warming is resulting in the spread of crop pests towards the North and South Poles at a rate of nearly 3 km a year.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change and carried out by researchers at the University of Exeter and the University of Oxford, shows a strong relationship between increased global temperatures over the past 50 years and expansion in the range of crop pests. Currently 10-16% of global crop production is lost to pests. Crop pests include fungi, bacteria, viruses, insects, nematodes, viroids and oomycetes. The diversity of crop pests continues to expand and new strains are continually evolving. Losses of major crops to fungi, and fungi-like microorganisms, amount to enough to feed nearly nine percent of today’s global population. The study suggests that these figures will increase further if global temperatures continue to rise as predicted.

The spread of pests is caused by both human activities and natural processes but is thought to be primarily the result of international freight transportation. The study suggests that the warming climate is allowing pests to become established in previously unsuitable regions. For example, warming generally stimulates insect herbivory at higher latitudes as seen in outbreaks of the Mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) that has destroyed large areas of pine forest in the US Pacific Northwest. In addition, the rice blast fungus which is present in over 80 countries, and has a dramatic effect both on the agricultural economy and ecosystem health, has now moved to wheat. Considered a new disease, wheat blast is sharply reducing wheat yields in Brazil.  

Dr Dan Bebber from the University of Exeter said: “If crop pests continue to march polewards as the Earth warms the combined effects of a growing world population and the increased loss of crops to pests will pose a serious threat to global food security.”

Professor Sarah Gurr from the University of Exeter (previously at the University of Oxford) said: “Renewed efforts are required to monitor the spread of crop pests and to control their movement from region to region if we are to halt the relentless destruction of crops across the world in the face of climate change.”

The study used published observations of the distribution of 612 crop pests collected over the past 50 years. It revealed that the movement of pests north and south towards the poles, and into new previously un-colonised regions, corresponds to increased temperatures during that period.  

The study was funded by the HSBC Climate Partnership and Earthwatch.

Date: 1 September 2013

The above article presents a grave picture of the growing pest problem in the agriculture sector. We cannot stop these pests from spreading across the world, but we can protect our crops from their wrath. We need to adopt an environment friendly full proof solution to tackle the pest problem. Termirepel™, a product of C Tech Corporation is an ideal solution to combat the pest problem as it is extremely low toxic in nature, works effectively and efficiently against the pests and have very low environmental implications. It works on the mechanism of repellence and does not harm target or non-target species. In masterbatch form it can be incorporated in agriculture films, mulches, tarpaulins to protect the crops from the vile pests. It can also be incorporated in storage bags to protect the produce. In coating form in can be coated near the storage areas to make them pests free. It is high time that we adopt the use of safe measures to fight the problem of pests.


Gall wasps destroying trees…

downloadAnother teeny tinny insect is here to cause unprecedented and huge damage to our trees and plants. The gall wasps, also called gallflies, are a family (Cynipidae). Their common name comes from the galls they induce on plants for larval development. About 1300 species of this generally very small creature (1-8 mm) are known worldwide, with about 360 species of 36 different genera in Europe and some 800 species in North America.

download (1)The larvae of most gall wasps develop in characteristic plant galls they induce themselves, but many species are also inquilines of other gall wasps. The plant galls mostly develop directly after the female insect lays the eggs. The inducement for the gall formation is largely unknown; discussion speculates as to chemical, mechanical, and viral triggers. The hatching larvae nourish themselves with the nutritive tissue of the galls, in which they are otherwise well-protected from external environmental effects. The host plants and the size and shape of the galls are specific to the majority of gall wasps, whereas about 70% of the known species live in various types of oak trees. One can find galls on nearly all parts of such trees, some on the leaves, the buds, the branches, and the roots. Other species of gall wasps live in eucalyptus treesrose bushes or maple trees, as well as many herbs. Frequently, the determination of the species is much easier through observation of the galls produced rather than the insect itself.

gall provides the developing gall wasp with a safe refuge for the most vulnerable stage of its life cycle, but many other wasps have found a way to penetrate this defense and parasitize the larvae within. Some of these parasitoids use their long, hardened egg-laying tube (ovipositor) to bore into the gall and lay an egg on the helpless gall maker.

imagesThe galls cause the upper surface of the leaf to lighten in color and form a kind of blister that is often ringed with a yellow halo. Severe infestations will cause the leaf tips to turn brown. Heavily damaged leaves may curl and fall from the tree and the entire crown of the tree may be affected. Each gall contains a single wasp larva that feeds on the inner lining of the gall. The galls drop to the ground when they have matured. The activity of the larva inside the gall actually makes the gall jump around on the ground after they have fallen from the tree. The insect overwinters inside the gall. In the spring, the females emerge and lay their eggs in newly opened leaf buds. The galls form in response to chemicals in the larva’s saliva.

Gall makers must attack the plant at a very precise time if normal plant tissue is to be successfully stimulated to form a gall. It has been shown that trees whose buds open earlier than nearby trees have larger numbers of these galls than trees whose buds opened later.

Let us look at the below news article demonstrating the effects of gall wasps damage;


Tiny insect menace chokes trees across Cape Cod

20 Oct, 2013

DENNIS, Mass. — A minuscule menace is buried in the gnarled, deformed limbs of black oak trees across Cape Cod, slowly choking them to death.

Its common name — the crypt gall wasp — is like something out of a horror movie, but for property owners, the evil it wreaks is all too real.

Hordes of the tiny wasps deposit their eggs in the trees’ new spring growth. The larvae grow inside the wood and form swelled chambers known as galls.

A year later, the adult wasps — measuring only 5 millimeters — emerge through pinprick holes in the wood and repeat the cycle over again, cutting off the system that distributes nutrients throughout the tree.

Starved of food, twig growth slows, leaves turn brown and eventually, if the infestation continues unabated, the tree may die.

Even though much is known about the tree-killing culprit, much is still a mystery, including whether it is a native or wash-ashore.

“So little is known about the life cycle,” Russ Norton, educator in horticulture at the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, said.

Norton, who is monitoring a research site in Nickerson State Park in Brewster, and other researchers are working to fill in those gaps.

Recently, workers with Arborjet, a Woburn company that tests and sells tree injection systems and insecticides, took a stand against the crypt gall wasp in Dennis Village Cemetery, a setting seemingly made for the fight against the pernicious pest with the deathly name.

Arborjet is working with University of Massachusetts-Amherst professor of entomology Joseph Elkinton and one of his graduate students to study the best ways to deliver insecticide that will stop the wasps in their tracks.

Researchers are not even convinced the species has been correctly identified, Elkinton and Arborjet officials said.

“We’re starting from square one with this insect,” Elkinton said.

Widespread damage from the wasp became apparent on Martha’s Vineyard a couple of years ago, he said.

But, while a similar infestation on Long Island crashed after only three years, the outbreak on the Vineyard has lasted longer.

On Cape Cod, property owners and arborists started seeing widespread damage in 2012.

“You probably don’t even see the symptoms for two years,” Peter Wild, CEO and founder of Arborjet, said.

At the Dennis Village Cemetery, Arborjet’s Don Grosman demonstrated how the injection systems use the tree’s vascular system to transport chemicals to fight the wasps, Grosman said.

A small black plug called an arborplug is inserted into holes drilled into the trunk, he said.

A needle attached to a pressurized reservoir is then connected to the plug, forcing the chemicals into the tree’s active tissue.

The company is testing two solutions: TREE-age, which relies on emamectin benzoate, a pesticide that causes insect paralysis, and IMA-jet, based on imidacloprid, a pesticide derived from synthetic nicotine, according to the National Pesticide Information Center, a collaboration of the University of Oregon and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Unlike spraying or other methods, injecting the chemicals keeps them contained within the tree and out of the surrounding environment, Grosman said.

“We pride ourself in that we put everything into the tree,” he said.

Even so, only a small amount of each product is required, he said.

For a tree with a 20-inch diameter, only 8 grams of the solution is used, Grosman said.

Although work in Hawaii on a similar infestation in banyan trees has shown that the method works, the exact effects on the crypt gall wasps are not yet clear, Grosman said.

About 50 trees in Barnstable, West Harwich and Dennis were injected with the two chemicals. An additional 20 trees are being monitored as controls.

The effect on different levels of infestation is being studied, Grosman said.

The trees will be checked over several years to see how long the chemicals keep the wasps at bay.

So far, there are pockets of the infestation in black oaks across the Cape, he said.

“It’s widespread but at the same time it’s somewhat sporadic,” he said.

This could be because of changes in the weather such as drought or it could be because of other factors, such as disease or the amount of salt used on nearby roadways, Grosman said.

At the cemetery, digging for graves could even be a factor, he said.

Natural conditions could lead to a collapse in the wasp population, such as what happened in Long Island, he said.

Infestations of exotic species are the cost of climate change and global trade, Wild said.

Still, like so much else with the crypt gall wasp, there is much more to be learned, both men said.

Education is the first step, Wild said. “Usually by the time you call the arborist, it’s time to cut the tree down,” he said.

Once a gall begins to develop, it is almost impossible to stop or reverse its development. Unless registered insecticides can be applied when gall wasps are flying, they offer little or no effective measure of control. Lack of serious plant damage from leaf galls and the difficulty in proper timing of insecticide applications pose a strong argument against the use of insecticides to reduce galls on oak.

Moreover chemical control is seldom suggested for management of leaf galls on oak. Cultural methods of control may be effective in reducing the impact of these insects. Some fallen leaves may harbor various life stages of gall-producing pests. Therefore, it may be useful to collect and destroy all infested leaves. Some of these pests overwinter in twigs and branches of oak. Where such woody galls are detected, prune and destroy the infested plant material when the galls are small and have just started to develop. But this isn’t a 100 percent effective treatment and more treatment options need to be explored.

 C Tech Corporation can offer a solution in the form of their non-toxic, non-hazardous product Termirepel™. Termirepel™ is an eco-friendly insect aversive. It is available in the form of polymer masterbatches as well as lacquer form which can be coated on the trees or diluted and sprayed on them.



Wood Borers: Boring their way into our home

There was Bronze Age, Copper Age, Iron Age and many other eras during which images (12)the use of one material was prominent. After a particular era the importance of the precious material has toned down. Wood however is the only material which still has its important status since time immemorial. Although the wood has been replaced by metals, polymer, ceramic and other materials in many applications, wooden artifacts are still considered of great value. We still find people who fill their beloved homes with wooden furniture to make it beautiful and more authentic.

Wood is one of the oldest friends of man and is always found in proximity to download (2)them in the form of bed, dinner table, chairs, grandfather’s clock, grandpa’s arm chair and many more. Loving and decorating our homes with wooden furniture is fine but protecting them from some of the vile species is of utmost importance. Species which were meant to help environment by giving a hand in biodegradation of wood have actually now become a big menace. Species like termites, carpenter ants, etc. attack healthy wood and have the capability to turn them into dust. Apart from termites and carpenter ants, we also have wood boring beetles that vilify the wood.

About three hundred different species of wood-boring beetles are known to occur in our domestic woodwork indoors, but of these only seven are of frequent occurrence, and it is to the larval or grub stage that we apply the description images (11)‘woodworm’. Woodboring beetles are commonly detected a few years after new construction. There are three groups of wood-boring beetles—powderpost, deathwatch, and false powderpost.

Many different types of wood structures and commodities have been damaged by these wood borers. Timber, planks, musical instruments, and wood carvings are the examples of the commodities damaged.

The wood borers especially powder post beetles do significant damage to wooden commodities, much more than that done by carpenter ants. The damage is done by the larvae that feed and reduce the wood to a fine powder or mass of small pellets and create narrow, meandering tunnels in the wood.

After the adult female emerges, she seeks other open-grained wood and deposits images (8)an egg in a pore. After hatching, the larvae eat their way into the wood, completing the cycle in about one year. This process may be repeated on the same piece of wood one quarter to one half inch from the emergence of the hole. Wood finishes: varnish, paint and waxes prevent an infestation. However, the insects already inside the wood will continue to thrive and eventually will emerge through the treated surface.

images (4)The lumber supply may have contained wood infected with beetle eggs or larvae, and since beetle life cycles can be one or more years, several years may pass before the presence of beetles becomes noticeable. In many cases, the beetles will be of a type that only attacks living wood, and thus incapable of “infesting” any other pieces of wood, or doing any further damage.

There are several indicators that wood-boring beetles are present. Probably the images (5)most common sign of a wood-boring beetle infestation is the presence of holes chewed by the adult beetles upon emergence. Another indicator is a powdery material called frass that beetles often produce while feeding. Frass is plant fragments made by a wood-boring insect; it is usually mixed with excrement. The beetles push the frass from the holes they have made in the infested wood. This frass usually gets piled below the holes or in cracks in structures. The consistency of the frass ranges from very fine to coarse, depending on the species.

Wood_Destroying_InsectsSometimes an infestation is indicated by the presence of wood-boring beetle adults. Adult beetles that emerge in confined structures are attracted to lights or windows and may accumulate at these locations.

Other signs of an infestation include stained wood or a blistering appearance on the wood surface caused by larvae tunneling just below the surface. Less commonly, immature beetles produce audible rasping or ticking sounds while chewing on the wood. These chewing sounds are most often heard during quiet times at night.

To stop this night time chirping steps have to be taken at root level i.e. the lumber from which the wooden commodities are made should be protected from these borers. To curb this problem of the wood borer, a unique solution in contrast to the typical hazardous, non-effective has to be adopted. And there is a solution,
a Green solution provided by C Tech Corporation: TERMIREPEL™. Termirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous and environment friendly product, with a high efficacy to repel insects like wood borers from the wood. Termirepel™ is a multitasking product; along with wood borer it protects the wood from vicious termites, notorious carpenter ants and other insects. Termirepel™ in solution form can be injected at high pressure in the lumber so as to prevent the infestation. It is also available in lacquer form which can be applied on the furniture, patios, floor as coating so as to prevent further infestation.

Webworm spinning a deadly web around your trees…

Webworms are the caterpillar form of a small white moth. The moths fly around during the summer laying their eggs on the underside of tree leaves. The moths seem to prefer alder, willow, cottonwood, apple, pear, peach, pecan, walnut, elm, and maples, but will eat a very large variety of trees and shrubs.

7The fall webworm, Hyphantria cunea, is a moth in the family Arctiidae known principally for its larval stage, which creates the characteristic webbed nests on the tree limbs of a wide variety of hardwoods in the late summer and fall. The moth is native to North America, ranging from Canada to Mexico, and is one of the few insect pests introduced from North America into other continents all over the world. It now has occupied probably its entire range in Europe from France to the Caspian Sea in the east. It has also penetrated into Central Asia. It has spread into China, southern Mongolia, Korea and southern Primorsky Krai of Russia and is now considered holarctic in distribution.

One or two generations of the pest occur in a year. However, in Tennessee several generations may occur in a year. This pest tends to go through periodic population explosions. Outbreaks every four to seven years may last for two to three years.

4The adult moth lays her eggs on the underside of leaves in ‘hair’-covered clusters of a few hundred. Eggs hatch in about a week. The caterpillars are highly variable in coloration, ranging from a pale yellow, to dark grey, with yellow spots and long and short bristle. The maximum length is 35 mm. Webs are progressively enlarged, and much messier looking than those of other caterpillars. Larvae feed inside the tents until the late instars. Very young larvae feed only on the upper surfaces of leaves. Later, they consume whole leaves. The larval stage lasts about four to six week. The larval stage of this pest skeletonizes and consumes leaves inside the protection of a tent-like web that they enlarge as they require additional food and grow. On shade trees webs usually occur on occasional branches. The fall webworm feeds on just about any type of deciduous tree. It feeds on almost 90 species of deciduous trees commonly attacking hickory, walnut, birch, cherry, and crabapple wherein leaves are chewed; in result the branches or the entire tree may become defoliated.

The fall webworm is a widely distributed native pest of shade trees and shrubs and appears from late summer through early fall. This species acts similarly to the eastern tent caterpillar, but the fall webworm constructs its nest over the end of the branch rather than at tree crotches. The large conspicuous webs contain caterpillars, dead partially eaten leaves, and fecal droppings.

imagesThis pest usually eats leaves late in the season and the nests are generally concentrated to limited areas. Although trees experience heavy damage from webworms in the fall, it is the summer defoliations that cause the most stress on the trees. Summertime is when pecan trees are actively developing their nut crop and storing food for the winter in their roots. By the time defoliations occur in the fall, the impact to the tree is minimized because it has stored its winter food and produced its pecans. Fall webworms in South Texas prefer pecan trees to most other trees, but will munch on mulberry, hickory, oak, willow or redbud just as readily. The webs are made by groups of caterpillars hatched from the same egg mass. Webworm caterpillars and moths are active at night when most of their predators (paper wasps, hornets, and birds) are inactive. The caterpillars feed on leaf material and leave the stems and veins behind. Although these caterpillars are hairy, they do not sting; however, they can cause an irritating rash if their hairs come in contact with human skin.

Webworms enclose small branches and leaves in their light gray colored webs. Constant infestations of individual trees will cause limb and branch diebacks. There are several chemicals that help to control the webworms, but they may not be practical due to the problems related to application complications in larger trees.

A sure and effective way of combating fall webworms was devised by C Tech Corporation in the form of their product Termirepel™. Termirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous, environment friendly insect and pest aversive. Majorly targeted at curbing the termite menace, it is 100% effective against host of other insects and pests like webworms, beetles, etc. Termirepel™ is available in liquid concentrate form which can be diluted further and made into sprays that can replace conventional harmful insecticides. The spray can then be just sprayed on the trees or plants affected.

Termirepel™ is also available in the form of lacquer which can be applied on the trees and the surrounding areas. Termirepel™ is unique in its aspect that it works by the mechanism of repellence and not by killing. Thus, target as well as non-targeted beneficial species are not harmed but are merely kept away from the application.