Combating pest damage in shipping containers!

Today shipping industry has become a dynamic market. From 2000 to 2008 world trade increased by an average 5.4 percent each year. As markets are becoming increasingly globalized, a necessity for shipping bigger volumes of cargo in less time possible is also increasing. Tankers, shipping containers, and bulk carriers are the most important means of transportation of today’s time. About 90 percent of world trade is carried by the international shipping industry! Containers have boosted globalization more than all trade agreements in the past 50 years put together! Earlier the goods to be shipped used to be crammed into the hold of a ship and lose cargo in wooden crates would be loaded and unloaded by vast crews of dockworkers. The process was unwieldy, unreliable and so slow that ships often spent longer docked than they did at sea. Containers changed this in several ways. The price of everything fell, starting with the cost of loading and unloading. However, some notorious pests like insects are proving to be a major threat to the shipping industry. They not only damage the goods being shipped but are also dangerous as these pests carry and spread deadly diseases. Also, the introduction of a foreign pest in any country can be dangerous for the local agricultural produce.

There have been reported incidences of pests contaminating the foodstuff which is carried in the shipping containers. The pests that eat foodstuffs are usually not present in large numbers to be noticed by crews. Few pests left behind while unloading continues to breed and multiply in cargo unless eradicated. The combination of a residual pest population and food debris in un-cleaned cracks and crevices leads to the large numbers of pests that attack and spoil subsequent cargoes. Each year, pests cause losses that vary from 5-10% of the value of the original crops. Few insects even seriously reduce the nutritive value of a large quantity of material. Such pest infestation can also trigger a complex heating process that spreads throughout the pile and causes losses more serious than those resulting from the insects themselves. Also, the foodstuffs with even mild infestation need to be discarded since the food products reaching the consumer should be free of insect material in any case.

Let us look at some incidences pertaining to the damage caused by pest migration to a foreign country through these shipping containers.

A floating threat: Sea containers spread pests and diseases
17 August 2016, Rome

International Plant Protection Convention grapples with challenges of globalized trade. It was an exotic fungus that wiped out billions of American chestnut trees in the early 20th century, dramatically altering the landscape and ecosystem, while today the emerald ash borer – another pest that hitch-hiked along global trade routes to new habitats – threatens to do the same with a valuable tree long used by humans to make tool handles, guitars and office furniture.

Also as per the Food and Agricultural Organization of UN,the biggest “biological spill” of all was when a fungus-like eukaryotic microorganism called Phytophthora infestans – the name of the genus comes from Greek for “plant destroyer” – sailed from the Americas to Belgium. Within months it arrived in Ireland, it triggered a potato blight that led to famine, death and mass migration. Also a relative of the toxic cane toad that has run rampant in Australia recently disembarked from a container carrying freight to Madagascar, a biodiversity hotspot, and the ability of females to lay up to 40,000 eggs a year has made it a catastrophic threat for local lemurs and birds while also threatening the habitat of a host of animals and plants. In Rome, municipal authorities have been ramping up their annual campaign against the tiger mosquito, an invasive species that has arrived by ship in Albania in the 1970s. Aedes albopictus, famous for its aggressive biting, is now prolific across Italy.

Shipping containers: Importing insect pests, too…
By Faith Campbell, September 22, 2014, USA

Several of the most damaging tree-killing insects came to America as larvae riding in crates, pallets, or other forms of wood packaging material.

These include the Asian long horned beetle (ALB), emerald ash borer, and red bay ambrosia beetle. All entered the country since trade opened with China in the late 1980s.

So is there a reliable and effective solution for the pest nuisance in the shipping containers?

We have a solution for this problem.

At C Tech Corporation we make use of Mother Nature’s gift of senses to these insects in developing non- toxic & non-hazardous formulation!

Termirepel™ paint and additives are the solution. Termirepel™ paint can be directly applied to the containers which need protection from pest infestation. It is easy to apply and does not affect the aesthetics of the application which needs protection.

Termirepel™ polymer additives can be incorporated into the base polymer while manufacturing the containers. It works on the mechanism of repellence by affecting the olfactory senses of the pests. The product is RoHS, RoHS 2 and REACH compliant and FIFRA exempted.

Grasshopper nuisance!

Grasshoppers are insects of the suborder Caelifera within the order Orthoptera, which includes crickets and katydids. They are sometimes referred to as short-horned grasshoppers to distinguish them from the katydids, which have much longer antennae. They are probably the oldest living group of chewing herbivorous insects, dating back to the early Triassic around 250 million years ago. Grasshoppers are typically ground-dwelling insects with powerful hind legs which enable them to escape from threats by leaping vigorously. They are hemimetabolous insects i.e they do not undergo complete metamorphosis and hatch from an egg into a nymph or “hopper” which undergoes five moults, becoming more similar to the adult insect at each developmental stage. At high population densities and under certain environmental conditions, some grasshopper species can change color and behavior and form swarms. Under these circumstances, they are known as locusts.

Grasshoppers are voracious feeders, consuming approximately one-half of their body weight per day. Both adults and nymphs cause damage by chewing on the leaves and stems of plants, and if infestations are severe, may defoliate entire fields. It is estimated that grasshoppers consume up to 25 percent of the available forage in the western United States annually.

The injurious species of grasshoppers are all alike in their cycle of development. Eggs are deposited in late summer in elongated masses or pods inserted in the soil. These pass through the winter, and on hatching in the spring, the young seek food in the immediate area. As they increase in size and food becomes scarce, migration to other food sources takes place. After molting 5 or 6 times, during a period of 40-60 days, the adults appear and continue feeding until cold weather kills them.

Grasshoppers are general feeders on grasses and weeds and often move to cultivated crops. Crop damage is likely to be greatest in years when dry weather accompanies high populations. Drought conditions reduce natural vegetation, forcing grasshoppers to move to cultivated crops. Several species of grasshoppers feed on soybean foliage. The damage that grasshoppers cause appears as round to ragged holes in the leaves. These ragged holes extend in from the leaf margins and between the veins. Grasshoppers may also feed on and damage soybean pods, often chewing through the pod tissue into the seed. This may be a serious problem in dry years.

Mostly grasshoppers prefer young green plants, especially lettuce, beans, corn, carrots, onions, and some annual flowers. Squash and tomatoes are among the vegetables grasshoppers least favor. Grasshoppers have chewing mouthparts that remove large sections of leaves and flowers, sometimes devouring entire plants. Garden damage is usually limited to a few weeks in early summer immediately after range weeds dry up. However, during major outbreaks grasshoppers will feed on almost any green plant, and damage may occur over a considerably longer period.

Let us look at some recent news articles pertaining to the damage caused by the grasshoppers.

Voracious, gregarious locusts
January 31 2017, The Hindu, India

A locust is a grasshopper, which in its swarming phase can devastate thousands of acres of crops — to the extent of putting humans into famine and starvation. History is fraught with its notorious acts.

In solitary phase, locusts are just another grasshopper, with short horns. Taxonomically, there is no difference between a grasshopper or a locust, it is in their behaviour, that they exhibit differences. They are also called acridid and commonly seen in swarms in different parts of the world, on all continents except Antarctica.

They are highly migratory and are classified into ten subspecies. Species such as the Senegalese grasshopper and the African rice grasshopper have been observed to display locust-like behaviour on crowding.

Destructive behavior

When conditions are right, the harmless solitary locust undergoes a rapid set of changes. When there is a dramatic vegetation growth followed by drought in an area, the locusts start to breed more. The scores of wingless nymphs become swarms of winged adults. They together become gregarious (tending to associate with others of one’s kind and growing in a cluster) and migratory. They fly as a thick patch of swarms, devouring the crops on their way. They also cause huge damage. The adults consume most of the green vegetation.

They migrate in millions and cause damage through infestation. They have been a major cause of concern in agriculture that they have formed plagues since prehistory. In 1915, swarms of locusts stripped areas in Palestine and Syria from March to October, putting these places into a deep food crisis.

More recently, in 2013, Malagasy migratory locust devastated Madagascar, following a cyclone in February. The nation saw a surge in locust population and soon the insects occupied 50 percent of it. The authorities changed the situation to plague status.

Swarm of grasshoppers takes over Central Australia
January 24, 2017, ABC News, Australia

Swarms of insects have descended upon the Central Australian outback after recent rainfall.

In particular, large amounts of yellow-winged grasshoppers have populated the area, both in Alice Springs and surrounding areas.

Chris Adriaansen, director of the Australian Plague Locust Commission, identified the insect as a grasshopper species.

“They’re not a locust species, they’re a grasshopper species,” he said.

“Yellow-winged grasshoppers are fairly widespread across Australia, and the population rises and falls quite dramatically with weather conditions.

“Given the rainfall that’s been in Central Australia four or five weeks ago, the population has just burst forth.”

Mr. Adriaansen said local grasshoppers will be looking to eat vegetation, unlike the Australian plague locusts which feed on grass species and grain crops.

“When they’re in numbers obviously they can create a level of damage,” he said.

Today food scarcity is one of the major issues that the world is facing. About 11.3 % of the world population is hungry. Thus we cannot afford this significant amount of crop damage caused by pests like a grasshopper. There is an urgent need for a sustainable solution.

Termirepel™ anti-insect additive, a C Tech Corporation product is the best solution for the prevention and control of insect infestations. Termirepel™ masterbatch can be incorporated in agricultural films, mulches, etc. during polymer processing. It can also be incorporated in silage bags and packaging films to protect the crops in a post-harvest stage from pest damage.

Termirepel™ lacquer can be added to paints which can then be applied to fencing, tree guards etc. It follows 6 tiered mechanism, which is extremely effective on insects like grasshopper, ants, beetles, termites etc.

Termirepel™ is a non-toxic and non-hazardous anti-insect additive. It is thermally stable and does not degrade on exposure to heat and sunlight. It does not kill or harm the insect but repels them. It does not volatilize and does not degrade the soil. It is RoHS, RoHS2, ISO, REACH, NEA, APVMA compliant and FIFRA exempted.