Cooperative Extension Service
The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Georgia Pest Management Newsletter

Your source for pest management and pesticide news

June 2001/Volume 24, no. 6

IR-4

The IR-4 program helps minor crops gain access to the pest management tools they need

FOOD QUALITY PROTECTION ACT

President Bush's budget for FY 2002 funds FQPA activities below the rate appropriated in FY 2001

HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Worldwide, there are more than 500,000 tons of obsolete pesticides
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has revised its guidance concerning West Nile virus
In New York City, Asian longhorned beetles have caused the removal of 5,000 trees
Jane Seymour will be the spokesperson for Care for Kids, an antipesticide campaign
The discovery and commercialization of natural product pesticides has accelerated dramatically

NEW TOOLS

Capuchin monkeys in Venezuela use juices from crushed millipedes to repel mosquitoes
Extracts from Neem trees have long been known to have value for the management of insects and nematodes
The national list of materials that can be used by organic producers only provides generic names of acceptable and prohibited pesticides
Termites are one of the most universal insect pests
Scientists with USDA are investigating yeast as a biological control agent for wheat scab
If you are interested in greater implementation of biocontrols or other alternatives to 'conventional' pesticides, we can help you identify companies that sell these products

FEDERAL NEWS

The EPA has released the agreement to reduce exposure to phosphine fumigants

BIOTECHNOLOGY

The regulatory battle over genetically modified (GM) and contamination of non-GM crops is heating up

IR-4

The IR-4 program helps minor crops gain access to the pest management tools they need. This USDA program helps to bridge the gap between new pesticides and minor crops. As you know, it is very expensive to conduct research necessary to demonstrate efficacy and to obtain EPA registration for conventional pesticides. Understandably, new registrations are targeted toward big market crops like cotton. To make matters worse, minor crops are also most vulnerable to FPQA restrictions/cancellations because they are small markets, and nearly all of 'kids foods' are minor crops.

The IR-4 program provides the resources to conduct the research necessary to bring new pest management alternatives to minor crops. In the past, the program has focused on food crops, but ornamentals now receive IR-4 support as well. In the past year, IR-4 has helped bring azoxystrobin fungicide to leafy Brassica vegetables, clomazone herbicide to cucurbits, fenbuconazole fungicide to blueberries, and many others. Overall, 162 new tolerances were established that support 511 new minor uses that can be added to pesticide labels. IR-4 also helped obtain more than 1000 new ornamental use registrations. Finally, IR-4 data supported 58 biopesticide clearances, including cinnamaldehyde (mite/powdery mildew control), chitosan (powdery mildew), harpin protein (disease control), and MilsanaTM (powdery mildew).

If your ability to produce a marketable minor crop is threatened by a lack of pest management tools, get involved with IR-4. Visit their website at www.cook.rutgers.edu/~ir4. You will need to work with other growers to establish needs and potential solutions, such as pesticides already registered on other crops. You will also need to contact the Georgia IR-4 coordinator, Dr. Stanley Culpepper (stanley@arches.uga.edu).

Food Quality Protection Act

President Bush's budget for FY 2002 funds FQPA activities below the rate appropriated in FY 2001, but the differences are small. The rhetoric that accompanied the budget numbers was uninformative. Research activities "will continue to focus on developing and validating models to identify and characterize, and models to predict, the potential increased susceptibility to human health effects experienced by infants and children; identifying and understanding major exposure routes, and pathways and processes, and developing theoretical and experimentally based multipathway exposure models for pesticides and other toxic substances; and addressing the adequacy of current risk assessment methods an providing the necessary risk assessment guidance. More specifically (almost anything would be more specific), health effects research will continue to focus on developing new and improved test methods to evaluate the effects of environmental exposure to pesticides and other chemicals in sensitive subpopulations. (Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 4-16-01)

So there you have it. Now you know exactly which way the EPA is headed and how you might be affected by regulatory activities. At least it sounds like the Agency will doing something important.

Health and the Environment

Worldwide, there are more than 500,000 tons of obsolete pesticides. Without proper disposal, these pesticides will eventually contaminate the environment. Unfortunately, pesticide disposal is expensive, and many countries do not have the resources or expertise for pesticide disposal. Pesticide companies are doing the responsible thing. The Global Crop Protection Federation (GCPF) pledged to help developing countries dispose of obsolete pesticides. The GCPF is a group of about a dozen major pesticide companies. Certainly these companies bear some or most of the responsibility for this enormous amount of pesticide waste, but it is refreshing to hear multinational companies step up and pledge to fund cleanup. I hope the program is effective, and I hope the companies get the credit they deserve if cleanup is successful. (Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 5-14-01)

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has revised its guidance concerning West Nile virus. This virus is a potentially serious disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes; birds serve as a reservoir and indicator for the disease. The disease is also a serious threat to horses; it not known if small mammals are susceptible or harbor West Nile virus. Unexplained dead birds could indicate the presence of the virus. The CDC recommends source reduction as the first line of defense. Keep in mind that mosquitoes must have water to reproduce; minimizing the available breeding areas can reduce mosquito populations. In many places, however, it is not feasible to eliminate all mosquito breeding sites. The CDC recommends controlling the larvae. Larviciding is "typically more effective and target specific" than killing adults. There are bacterial products and insect growth regulators that will kill mosquito larvae with little or no effect on other organisms. Spraying pesticides for adult mosquitoes also remains an important component of the program. The Center recommends applications based on surveillance data and strategies to prevent the development of resistance. You can review the CDC guidance at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/resources/wnv-guidelines-apr-2001.pdf

West Nile virus has not been detected in Georgia, but it has been reported in some states just north of us. Georgia is monitoring for the virus. If you see unexplained dead birds, you should contact the CDC.

The public and government agencies are caught between an undefined threat of a potentially serious disease and poorly understood (but highly publicized) human/environmental threats associated with pesticides. As a result, there have vocal outcries both for and against the use of pesticide to control mosquito populations. If West Nile virus is detected in additional parts of the country, decisions will become more critical.

In New York City, Asian longhorned beetles have caused the removal of 5,000 trees. The city is injecting other trees with imidacloprid in an effort to kill the beetle larvae in the tree. According the Environmental News Network (http://www.enn.com/), the Asian longhorned beetle has the potential to cause more tree damage than Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight, and gypsy moth combined. (Chemically Speaking, April 2001)

Jane Seymour will be the spokesperson for Care for Kids, an antipesticide campaign. "I am alarmed that millions and millions of gallons of pesticides are sold and used every spring in homes, schools, and day care centers, putting our children at risk." The 'rest of the story' -- the campaign is sponsored by Bioganic Safety Brands Inc, a producer of plant-oil pesticides. I wonder if they have any products that we could use to replace currently used products. (Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 4-2-01)

The discovery and commercialization of natural product pesticides has accelerated dramatically. From 1960-65, about 600 novel natural products were identified; from 1990-95, more than 5,000 natural products were identified that had biological activity. There are two primary reasons for the increase: improvements in computer analysis of chemical structure and the development of automated screening systems. Theoretically, it is possible to screen 100,000 botanical samples per day; the need for human activity in the system slows the process to about 20,000 samples in an 8-hour shift.

The introduction of new materials in the market is also encouraging. Spinosyns, azoxystrobins, and avermectins became leading products shortly after their introduction. It seems like yesterday that we entomologists were bemoaning the fact that no new chemistries for pest management were being discovered. Other new products are hitting the market each year. Promising new nematicides, insecticides, and fungicides are expected on the market within the next few years. (IPM Practitioner, January 2001)

This segment belongs here between 'Health and Environment' and 'New Tools'. Regardless of the increased awareness and concern for the environment, money still makes the world go 'round. Our best hope for preserving the natural environment is the realization that Mother Nature provides a tremendous, largely untapped resource for new chemistries and useful products.

New Tools

Capuchin monkeys in Venezuela use juices from crushed millipedes to repel mosquitoes. In addition to their usual annoying behavior, the mosquitoes transmit bot flies. The larvae of these flies burrow into the monkey's skin and cause a large painful lesion. The monkey scientists apparently discovered that the benzoquinones in the millipedes are an effective insect repellent. The phenomenon was not widely known because very few scientific journals will accept manuscripts from monkeys.

The millipedes produce the chemicals for a more important purpose -- to repel predators. Human scientists observed that monkeys would go into a frenzy if they put the millipedes into their mouth. One of the human scientists (not the smartest of the bunch, I hope) put a millipede in his mouth and was driven to his knees by the pain. He reported that "it was painful and irritating."

We do not advise the application of crushed millipedes as an alternative to commercial insect repellents, but you might want to remember this article if you are ever stranded in the wilds of Venezuela without your mosquito netting. And remember your mother's advice to "keep that thing out of your mouth."
(Capital Press, 3-2-01 via Agrochemical and Environmental News, 5-01)

Extracts from Neem trees (Azadirachta indica) have long been known to have value for the management of insects and nematodes. Scientists have also been investigating chinaberry (Melia azedarach), which is another member of the same family. When added to the soil, both neem and chinaberry significantly reduced root-knot nematode injury to tomato plants. The greatest activity was reported from addition of neem or chinaberry seeds. The scientists suggest that these data could lead to alternatives for organic growers that need to control nematodes. Organic growers have very few alternatives for controlling nematode populations. Additionally, further research into the active components could help to develop new conventional nematicides. Many of the current alternatives pose troublesome human and environmental risks. (The IPM Practitioner, April 2001)

The national list of materials that can be used by organic producers only provides generic names of acceptable and prohibited pesticides; a new list will help growers make decisions about specific pesticide products. The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is trying to help organic growers decipher the generic list released by USDA. Many active ingredients are available in a number of different products, and product names can be confusing. The Institute will also provide assistance in interpretation and application of the new USDA rules. Contact them at info@omri.org or 541-343-7600. I am not familiar with this organization, but this service sounds useful. Please contact me if you have accolades or complaints about OMRI. (Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 2-26-01)

Let me start by saying that I am not against organic food or organic producers. However, some things confuse me about the organic movement (keep in mind that I am easily confused). Many people think that no pesticides are used in organic production; the brand name list provided by OMRI has more than 450 items listed. Have all of these pesticides been tested rigorously for potential human or environmental impacts? Have combinations of these materials been tested for developmental effects on children? Does anyone know what the long-term effects of consuming these pesticides might be? If these pesticides break down into other components, has anyone investigated the potential health effects of the breakdown products? These questions, all legitimate, are commonly asked about 'conventional' pesticides, but I have not heard anyone voicing these concerns about organic pesticides. Is 'natural' safer or better? Tobacco and ethanol derived from fermentation are certainly natural, but the potential health effects are well known. Oddly enough, organically produced tobacco is a growing market. I guess people want to be sure their health problems are 'natural.'

Termites are one of the most universal insect pests. Without constant vigilance and prophylactic application of controls, termites will eventually damage most homes. In the United States alone, termites cause billions of dollars of damage each year. Unfortunately, all of the current alternatives for controlling termites have significant drawbacks. Many people worry about human/environmental effects of chemical treatments, and baiting systems are often quite expensive. More importantly, no currently available method of termite control is completely reliable. Consequently, a thorough annual inspection remains the best way to avoid expensive termite damage.

A reliable, affordable way to prevent termite damage would be an important breakthrough, and it would be worth a mountain of gold. Universities and private companies are investigating and developing new alternatives. Some of latest discoveries were presented at the national meeting of the Entomological Society of America held in December 2000.

One company is developing a polymer laminate barrier that also contains a pyrethroid insecticide. The produce is touted as both a physical barrier and a repellent/termiticide. New active ingredients, such as fipronil and imidacloprid, are available to pest control companies as others (e.g., chlorpyrifos and diazinon) are being removed from this market. Materials such as sodium silicate are being investigated as wood treatments; preliminary data indicate that the pretreatment of wood with sodium silicate enhances the activity of borate wood treatments. Nooktakone (an oil derived from vetiver grass) is relatively inexpensive and repels Formosan termites. Further research will be needed to evaluate its effectiveness.

Other research focuses on better ways to detect termite infestations. If termites are discovered early, it is unlikely the building will suffer significant damage. Acoustic systems have been suggested as one approach. Available equipment can 'hear' termites inside structures. Thus far, no acoustic system has been reliable outside of the laboratory. The 'real world' is noisy, especially when you are listening for the faint sounds of a termite quietly chewing. As listening equipment becomes more sophisticated, effective acoustic detection devices are likely.

Other scientists rely on a 'low-tech' approach. Dogs are commonly used to sniff out bombs, drugs, and other materials. Humans, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) are limited to visual inspections for termites. Hidden damage may go undetected. Trained dogs can detect termites, but they also have limitations. Dogs do not seem to differentiate between termite species, and they cannot identify other problems (e.g., roaches) that may also be present. Finally, the detection is no better than the dog's training. Poorly trained dogs may not detect infestations, or they may indicate 'false positives' that result in unnecessary treatments.

One of the most popular baiting systems used today is SentriconTM. For this system to be effective, the bait stations have to be monitored regularly and correctly by human technicians. This aspect of the program adds to the costs and introduces an opportunity for human error. Additionally, handling the bait may disrupt the system by affecting termite behavior. The company plans to replace the human monitors with an electronic system that feeds the data into an external computer without disturbing the bait station. (The IPM Practitioner, April 2001)

One of the barriers to effective termite management is the lack of knowledge concerning the biology and ecology of termites. We actually know very little about how termites find and choose food sources. Originally, termite companies were advertising that baiting type products were eliminating the colonies. Research soon demonstrated that this claim was not true even though termite activity at the bait stations and homes was not detected for six months or more. For some reason, the termite colony turned its attention elsewhere. The baiting stations may or may not have caused the termites to feed elsewhere.

You can expect a number of new alternatives to termite management as research continues, and new technology replaces old. For now, the key to avoiding termite damage is the annual inspection. You should be present when the inspection is done, and you should contact the pest control company if you do not feel the inspection was thorough. Be careful when you choose a pest control company, and do not make your selection based upon price alone. Examine the warranty. Ask questions and request references from other customers. Professional associations like the Georgia Pest Control Association (800-465-9827) can also help you choose a reliable company.

Scientists with USDA are investigating yeast as a biological control agent for wheat scab. Scab causes more than $3 billion in losses annually in the U.S. A number of biological controls have been identified for insects, but it has been more difficult to find biocontrols for diseases. Researchers have identified several promising candidates that work by competing with the disease for resources and space. If the 'good' microbes have already colonized the wheat, the disease organism cannot become established. You can read the details on the web http://www.nps.ars.usda.gov/ or you can contact the researchers at schislda@mail.ncaur.usda.gov

If you are interested in greater implementation of biocontrols or other alternatives to 'conventional' pesticides, we can help you identify companies that sell these products. Thanks to an annual publication from The IPM Practitioner, we can supply company names, addresses, phone numbers, and web sites for beneficial insects, pheromones, 'natural' pesticides, and other products for a wide range of pests. Unfortunately, we do not have information about the reliability of the sources or the efficacy of many of the products. You can purchase your own copy of this resource guide by contacting the Bio-Integral Resource Center at 510-524-2567.

Federal News

The EPA has released the agreement to reduce exposure to phosphine fumigants. Aluminum and magnesium phosphide are critical tools to control insects in stored grains. The active ingredient, phosphine gas, is released from the products upon exposure to moisture in the air. Phosphine gas is highly toxic, but it is the only feasible option available in many situations.

The memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Agency and the registrants will require phosphine applicators to develop a site-specific fumigation management plan (FMP). This agreement is the first time the EPA has required this type of plan as part of the pesticide registration. The FMP stipulates these procedures.

(Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 2-5-01)

Phosphine products are critical, but the registration is probably hanging by a thread. There have been incidents of misuse in Georgia and other states that have resulted in serious injury and death. Another incident may force EPA to cancel the phosphine fumigants. NEVER use a phosphine product for a use that is not specified on the label. NEVER give anyone phosphine products.

Biotechnology

The regulatory battle over genetically modified (GM) and contamination of non-GM crops is heating up. 'Zero tolerance' policies seem to be appearing everywhere in the United States. Now the 'zero tolerance' mantra is being heard in agriculture as well. In many cases, a policy that establishes an immutable 'zero' is difficult or impossible to implement in the real world.

Modified crops are grown over large areas of the United States. The country has a single shipping/handling/storage system for seed and grains. It is not possible to distinguish between GM and non-GM seed without chemical testing. Not surprisingly, it is impossible to guarantee that a shipment of seed or grain is completely free of GM seed/grain. Such a zero-tolerance guarantee would mean that not even one GM seed could be present in a shipload containing billions of seeds. However, Japanese and some European buyers will not buy GM products.

Envision this scenario. You are producing seed/grain for the Japanese market. You have guaranteed that no GM seed were used and that you have gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid contamination. Unfortunately, when your crop begins to bloom, pollen from a farm with GM grain blows into your field without your knowledge. At the end of the season, you harvest your crop and ship it to the buyers. The buyers sample the grain and discover GM contamination. The sale is rejected, and you are sued for breach of contract. Who is to blame? Who should be liable for this mistake?

A similar situation exists for organic producers, and a lack of knowledge exacerbates the situation. If you want to grow certified, organic corn, how large a buffer do you need between your crop and your neighbor who is growing GM corn? How can you be sure that the seed you plant is uncontaminated?

Many grower groups and public action groups are calling for USDA and other government agencies to establish regulations that would help define responsibility and liability for both GM and non-GM producers.

The USDA cautions that many GM testing companies are unreliable. The USDA Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) published a list of GM testing companies that meet GIPSA validation procedures at www.usda.gov/gipsa/biotech/evalaccredit.htm (Pestic. & Tox. Chem. News, 4-30-01)

The appearance of any trade name in this newsletter is not intended to endorse that product nor convey negative implications of unmentioned products.

Dear Readers:

The Georgia Pest Management Newsletter is a monthly journal for extension agents, extension specialists, and others interested in pest management news. It provides information on legislation, regulations, and other issues affecting pest management in Georgia.

Do not regard the information in this newsletter as pest management recommendations. Consult the Georgia Pest Control Handbook, other extension publications, or appropriate specialists for this information.

Your input in this newsletter is encouraged.

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Or write us:

Department of Entomology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
E-mail: pguillebeau@bugs.ent.uga.edu

Or visit us on the Web. You will find all the back issues there and other useful information.
http://www.ces.uga.edu/Agriculture/entomology/pestnewsletter/newsarchive.html

Sincerely:

Paul Guillebeau signature

Paul Guillebeau, Associate Professor & Extension Entomologist