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Website to help safeguard the United States borders against alien scale insect pests

Scales are small insects that feed by sucking plant juices. They can attack nearly any plant and cause serious damage to many agricultural and ornamental plants. While native scales have natural enemies that generally keep their populations in check, invasive species often do not, and for this reason many commercially important scale pests in the United States are species that were accidentally introduced.

In order to facilitate the identification of alien species at U.S. ports-of-entry, scientists of the United States Department of Agriculture and California Department of Food and Agriculture joined efforts and built an online tool for the identification of 194 potentially invasive species from all over the world.

The new website is a comprehensive resource to assist federal and state identifiers to make authoritative identifications of intercepted scale insects. This resource includes, for each species, information on diagnostic characters, distribution, hosts, and important references with line drawings, photos of slide-mounted specimens and of specimens in the field. It also has identification keys, which were built in Lucid, a powerful expert system specifically designed for making identifications of organisms. Information on each species is maintained through links to ScaleNet, a rich relational database on scales that is updated regularly. Details about this tool have been published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

A number of other online tools, including Mobile apps, have been developed by various groups of scientists in cooperation with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Identification Technology Program (ITP), to help identify invasive species. These tools are available at no cost via the ID Tools website (http://idtools.org/).

‘Protecting the borders of large countries such as the United States from invasive scales often requires a very broad knowledge of the taxonomy a group, and detailed knowledge of the literature and collections from the last 250+years ‘, said Dr. Douglass Miller, the senior author of the paper and a retired scale insect systematist. ‘Currently only a few specialists in the world can identify scale insects based on morphology, and of these, many are retired or approaching retirement. We hope that our tool will facilitate scale insect pest identifications at the borders and will inspire taxonomists to build similar tools for their groups.’

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The above story is based on materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

‘Small scale’ Wegmans sets opening

Wegmans Food Markets is set to open a “smaller scale” version of its store Sunday in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

The Chestnut Hill store is 80,000 square feet — considerably smaller than Wegmans’ 138,000-square-foot unit in Northborough, Mass.


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“Virtually every department and category of product sold in our largest stores will be available in Chestnut Hill,” store manager Rich Boscia, said in a press release. “It’s a more efficient use of space, for sure, but we also were meticulous in selecting the must-haves that shoppers buy every week, along with the very best of what we have to offer, including prepared foods.”

A neighboring Wegmans Wine, Liquor & Beer opened its doors on March 29. The store is one of several the Rochester, N.Y.-based retailer plans for the Boston area, including a store in Burlington, Mass., set to open later this year.

Area Whole Foods stores recently lowered prices partially to defend against the expected competition from the Wegmans openings, an analyst said.



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Supermarket News

‘Small scale’ Wegmans sets opening

Wegmans Food Markets is set to open a “smaller scale” version of its store Sunday in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

The Chestnut Hill store is 80,000 square feet — considerably smaller than Wegmans’ 138,000-square-foot unit in Northborough, Mass.


CONNECT WITH SN ON TWITTER

Follow @SN_News for updates throughout the day.


“Virtually every department and category of product sold in our largest stores will be available in Chestnut Hill,” store manager Rich Boscia, said in a press release. “It’s a more efficient use of space, for sure, but we also were meticulous in selecting the must-haves that shoppers buy every week, along with the very best of what we have to offer, including prepared foods.”

A neighboring Wegmans Wine, Liquor & Beer opened its doors on March 29. The store is one of several the Rochester, N.Y.-based retailer plans for the Boston area, including a store in Burlington, Mass., set to open later this year.

Area Whole Foods stores recently lowered prices partially to defend against the expected competition from the Wegmans openings, an analyst said.



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How Australia’s Outback got one million feral camels: Camels culled on large scale

A new study by a University of Exeter researcher has shed light on how an estimated one million-strong population of wild camels thriving in Australia’s remote outback have become reviled as pests and culled on a large scale.

Sarah Crowley, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus, explored the history of the camel in Australia, from their historic role helping to create the country’s infrastructure through to their current status as unwelcome “invader.”

The deserts of the Australian outback are a notoriously inhospitable environment where few species can survive. But the dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius) prospers where others perish, eating 80% of native plant species and obtaining much of their water through ingesting this vegetation.

Yet for numerous Australians, particularly ranchers, conservation managers, and increasingly local and national governments, camels are perceived as pests and extreme measures — including shooting them with rifles from helicopters — are being taken to reduce their population.

In her article, published in the journal Anthrozoös, Crowley proposes that today’s Australian camels exemplify the idea of “animals out of place” and discusses how they have come to inhabit this precarious position.

She said: “Reports estimate there are upwards of a million free-ranging camels in Australia and predict that this number could double every eight years. As their population burgeons, camels encroach more frequently upon human settlements and agricultural lands, raising their media profile and increasing local animosity toward them.”

The camel was first brought to Australia in the 1800s when the country was in the midst of a flurry of colonial activity. The animals were recognized by pioneers as the most appropriate mode of transport for the challenging environment because they require significantly less water, feed on a wider variety of vegetation, and are capable of carrying heavier loads than horses and donkeys.

Camels therefore played a significant role in the establishment of Australia’s modern infrastructure, including the laying of the Darwin-Adelaide Overland Telegraph Line and the construction of the Transnational Railway.

Once this infrastructure was in place, however, and motorized transport became increasingly widespread, camels were no longer indispensable. In the early part of the 20th century they rapidly lost their economic value and their displaced handlers either shot their wards or released them into the outback where, quite discreetly, they thrived.

It was not until the 1980s that surveys hinted at the true extent of their numbers, and only in 2001 that reports of damage caused by camels were brought to the general populace.

Camels are not the most dainty of creatures. Dromedaries are on average six feet tall at the shoulder, rendering cattle fencing no particular obstacle to their movement. By some accounts, camels may not even see small fences and consequently walk straight through them.

Groups of camels arriving on agricultural properties and settlements in Australia, normally in times of severe drought, can also cause significant damage in their search for water.

In 2009, a large-scale culling operation began. There were objections from animal welfare groups and some landowners who were concerned that the method of culling from helicopters, leaving the bodies to waste, is inhumane. Most objectors, however, were primarily concerned that culling is economically wasteful and felt that the camels should be mustered for slaughter or export.

There are also concerns regarding the global environment, as camels may contribute to the desertification of the Australian landscape. They are also ruminants and thus produce methane, adding to Australia’s carbon emissions. Crowley does not question the accuracy or significance of this, but points out that the environmental impacts of even 1,000,000 feral camels pales in comparison to that of the 28,500,000 cattle currently residing in the country. Still, when dust storms gathered over Sydney in 2009, media reports implied that the camel was the culprit.

Camels have in recent times been referred to in Australia as “humped pests,” “a plague,” a “real danger” and “menacing,” and their actions described as “ravaging” and “marauding.”

Crowley added: “These terms show how camels have suddenly been attributed agency — their crossing of acceptable human boundaries is somehow deemed purposeful and rebellious. These accusations lie in stark contrast to the praise laid upon those dromedaries who assisted colonists in the exploration and establishment of modern Australia, and highlight how temporal changes in culture — specifically, shifting economic and environmental values — have affected human interpretations of the presence, purpose, and even behavior of Australian camels.”

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Precision agriculture for small scale farming systems

Oct. 8, 2013 — Raj Khosla, PhD, and other agronomists have demonstrated internationally that working closely with farmers can improve crop yields. The principles are the same no matter the location: use the right input, at the right time, at the right place, and in the right amount. How those principles are applied varies from field to field, country to country and farmer to farmer, but almost always impacts outcomes.

Khosla will present “Precision Agriculture for Small Scale Farming Systems” on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013 at 9:30 AM. The presentation is part of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America Annual Meetings, Nov. 3-7 in Tampa, Florida. The theme of this year’s conference is “Water, Food, Energy, & Innovation for a Sustainable World” (https://www.acsmeetings.org/). Members of the media receive complimentary registration to the joint meetings.

According to Khosla, “precision agriculture is a grossly misunderstood field, due to its development over time in large scale farming systems. The principles and concepts of precision agriculture are not only for large farms using large equipment. They can be applied to a farm of 2 acres or 2,000 acres.” He prefers to call it “smart agriculture” or “appropriate agriculture.”

“The examples we have from Africa, Asia, and South America show impacts in improving yields even greater than that in the US,” says Khosla. In Zimbabwe, simple tactics like using current labor forces and harnessing good techniques tripled yields in one study.

“Global food security is a huge issue,” says Khosla. “Smart agriculture is very much a part of the solution, but it is not the only solution.”

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Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA).

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Precision agriculture for small scale farming systems

Oct. 8, 2013 — Raj Khosla, PhD, and other agronomists have demonstrated internationally that working closely with farmers can improve crop yields. The principles are the same no matter the location: use the right input, at the right time, at the right place, and in the right amount. How those principles are applied varies from field to field, country to country and farmer to farmer, but almost always impacts outcomes.

Khosla will present “Precision Agriculture for Small Scale Farming Systems” on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013 at 9:30 AM. The presentation is part of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America Annual Meetings, Nov. 3-7 in Tampa, Florida. The theme of this year’s conference is “Water, Food, Energy, & Innovation for a Sustainable World” (https://www.acsmeetings.org/). Members of the media receive complimentary registration to the joint meetings.

According to Khosla, “precision agriculture is a grossly misunderstood field, due to its development over time in large scale farming systems. The principles and concepts of precision agriculture are not only for large farms using large equipment. They can be applied to a farm of 2 acres or 2,000 acres.” He prefers to call it “smart agriculture” or “appropriate agriculture.”

“The examples we have from Africa, Asia, and South America show impacts in improving yields even greater than that in the US,” says Khosla. In Zimbabwe, simple tactics like using current labor forces and harnessing good techniques tripled yields in one study.

“Global food security is a huge issue,” says Khosla. “Smart agriculture is very much a part of the solution, but it is not the only solution.”

Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:

Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA).

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Peculiar, diverse and dangerous to crops: A checklist of the scale insects of Iran

Oct. 2, 2013 — A detailed annotated checklist of the scale insects of Iran, describing a total of 275 species from 13 families, represents a first effort towards a better knowledge of the Coccoidea family in attempt to improve the view in practical fields such as pest control management. The scale insects species are listed along with their locality data and host plants. In addition to latest species names for any record, new records for Iran and new host plants for some scale insects species. The study was published in the open access journal Zookeys.

Scale insects of the superfamily Coccoidea are sap-sucking hemipterous insects with an estimated 8000 species within 49 families, of which 16 are only known from fossils. They vary dramatically in appearance, some of them are very small (around 1 mm) and grow beneath wax covers, others look like shiny pearl-like objects or are covered with mealy wax. These peculiar looking creatures secrete a waxy coating for defense. This makes them resemble reptilian scales or fish scales, hence their common name.

Scale insects are studied relatively little in Iran, but are economically important as they cause reduced crop yield through their feeding and transferring pathogen microorganisms to a wide range of plants. “Although the scale insects of Iran have been relatively well studied, there is still a strong need for further investigations, including extensive collections of these families in Iran,” explains the author of the study Dr Masumeh Moghaddam, Iranian Research Institute of Plant Protection, Tehran.

The new detailed study of the Coccoidea superfamily aims at paving the road for future research on this important group of insects and the practical implementation of knowledge in pest control management.

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Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. Masumeh Moghaddam. An annotated checklist of the scale insects of Iran (Hemiptera, Sternorrhyncha, Coccoidea) with new records and distribution data. ZooKeys, 2013; 334: 1 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.334.5818

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Peculiar, diverse and dangerous to crops: A checklist of the scale insects of Iran

Oct. 2, 2013 — A detailed annotated checklist of the scale insects of Iran, describing a total of 275 species from 13 families, represents a first effort towards a better knowledge of the Coccoidea family in attempt to improve the view in practical fields such as pest control management. The scale insects species are listed along with their locality data and host plants. In addition to latest species names for any record, new records for Iran and new host plants for some scale insects species. The study was published in the open access journal Zookeys.

Scale insects of the superfamily Coccoidea are sap-sucking hemipterous insects with an estimated 8000 species within 49 families, of which 16 are only known from fossils. They vary dramatically in appearance, some of them are very small (around 1 mm) and grow beneath wax covers, others look like shiny pearl-like objects or are covered with mealy wax. These peculiar looking creatures secrete a waxy coating for defense. This makes them resemble reptilian scales or fish scales, hence their common name.

Scale insects are studied relatively little in Iran, but are economically important as they cause reduced crop yield through their feeding and transferring pathogen microorganisms to a wide range of plants. “Although the scale insects of Iran have been relatively well studied, there is still a strong need for further investigations, including extensive collections of these families in Iran,” explains the author of the study Dr Masumeh Moghaddam, Iranian Research Institute of Plant Protection, Tehran.

The new detailed study of the Coccoidea superfamily aims at paving the road for future research on this important group of insects and the practical implementation of knowledge in pest control management.

Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:

Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. Masumeh Moghaddam. An annotated checklist of the scale insects of Iran (Hemiptera, Sternorrhyncha, Coccoidea) with new records and distribution data. ZooKeys, 2013; 334: 1 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.334.5818

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Peculiar, diverse and dangerous to crops: A checklist of the scale insects of Iran

Oct. 2, 2013 — A detailed annotated checklist of the scale insects of Iran, describing a total of 275 species from 13 families, represents a first effort towards a better knowledge of the Coccoidea family in attempt to improve the view in practical fields such as pest control management. The scale insects species are listed along with their locality data and host plants. In addition to latest species names for any record, new records for Iran and new host plants for some scale insects species. The study was published in the open access journal Zookeys.

Scale insects of the superfamily Coccoidea are sap-sucking hemipterous insects with an estimated 8000 species within 49 families, of which 16 are only known from fossils. They vary dramatically in appearance, some of them are very small (around 1 mm) and grow beneath wax covers, others look like shiny pearl-like objects or are covered with mealy wax. These peculiar looking creatures secrete a waxy coating for defense. This makes them resemble reptilian scales or fish scales, hence their common name.

Scale insects are studied relatively little in Iran, but are economically important as they cause reduced crop yield through their feeding and transferring pathogen microorganisms to a wide range of plants. “Although the scale insects of Iran have been relatively well studied, there is still a strong need for further investigations, including extensive collections of these families in Iran,” explains the author of the study Dr Masumeh Moghaddam, Iranian Research Institute of Plant Protection, Tehran.

The new detailed study of the Coccoidea superfamily aims at paving the road for future research on this important group of insects and the practical implementation of knowledge in pest control management.

Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:

Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. Masumeh Moghaddam. An annotated checklist of the scale insects of Iran (Hemiptera, Sternorrhyncha, Coccoidea) with new records and distribution data. ZooKeys, 2013; 334: 1 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.334.5818

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News