Mediterranean fruit fly: Threat to our crops

medfly1The Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata or Medfly) is considered the most important agricultural pest in the world. The Medfly has spread throughout the Mediterranean region, southern Europe, the Middle East, Western Australia, South and Central America and Hawaii. The first of numerous U.S. mainland infestations occurred in Florida in 1929. It has been recorded infesting a wide range of commercial and garden fruits, nuts and vegetables, including apple, avocado, bell pepper, citrus, melon, peach, plum and tomato

The Mediterranean fruit fly attacks more than 260 different fruits, flowers, vegetables, and nuts. Thin-skinned, ripe succulent fruits are preferred. Host preferences vary in different regions. Although several species of cucurbits have been recorded as hosts of the medfly, they are considered to be very poor hosts. Some hosts have been recorded as medfly hosts only under laboratory conditions and may not be attacked in the field. Knowledge of the hosts in one country often aids in correctly predicting those which are most likely to be infested in a newly infested country, but what may be a preferred host in one part of the world may be a poor host in another.

In some of the Mediterranean countries, only the earlier varieties of citrus are grown, because the flies develop so rapidly that late season fruits are too heavily infested to be marketable. Some areas have had almost 100% infestation in stone fruits. Harvesting before complete maturity also is practiced in Mediterranean areas generally infested with this fruit fly.

The damage to the crops caused by Medfly mainly results from oviposition in fruit and soft tissues of vegetative plant parts, feeding by the larvae and decomposition of plant tissue by invading secondary microorganisms.

Larval feeding damage in fruits is most destructive. When they medfly2attack fully mature fruit, it develops water soaked appearance on them, thus making them undesirable to eat. Young fruits become distorted and usually drop. The larval tunnel provides entry points for bacteria and fungi that cause the fruit to rot. These maggots also attack young seedlings, succulent tap roots, and stems and buds of host plant. In addition to physical damage, Medfly inflicts economic damage due to costs associated with quarantine and monitoring programs, limits on export from fly infested areas, and quarantine treatments of fruit from infested areas.

Let us take a look at the article below:

med news

The Battle over the Medfly

MARCH 16, 2014

 medfly3Ceratitis capitata. To a Muggle’s ears, it sounds like an incantation from a Hogwarts wizard. If only the matter were whimsical.

Ceratitis capitata may be better known by its nonscientific name: the Mediterranean fruit fly, or Medfly to its friends. Only the Medfly has no friends, certainly not among fruit and vegetable growers, and certainly not among anyone interested in reasonably priced produce undamaged by these insects, whose eggs, hatched under the skin of, say, a tomato or a peach, develop into larvae that feast on the pulp. California, the nation’s fruit basket, with a $40-billion-a-year agricultural industry, feels especially vulnerable. How that state has handled Medfly scares going back more than three decades is the focus of the latest installment of Retro Report, a series of documentary videos that take a second look at major news stories from the past.

This week’s video returns us to the early 1980s. A severe Medfly infestation had led Jerry Brown — California’s governor then, as he is now again — to authorize widespread aerial spraying of malathion, an insecticide that shattered the fly’s nervous system. Unfortunately, it also shattered the nerves of many Californians, who feared that diffusing this pesticide in the air was unhealthy for children and other living things. They were hardly reassured by officials’ insistence that malathion had little toxicity for humans; it was even being used to kill head lice. Nor were they impressed when a state official named B. T. Collins — speaking of whimsical — drank a glass of diluted malathion in 1981 to demonstrate that it caused no harm beyond perhaps upsetting his stomach a tad. (Mr. Collins died 12 years later at a fairly young age, 52, but of a heart attack, not of malathion-induced complications.)

In September 1982, California officials pronounced themselves lords of the flies, proclaiming victory over the rascals. Their self-congratulatory toasts proved premature, as new infestations erupted in the late 1980s and early 90s. After another campaign to eliminate them, officials declared victory once more. But James R. Carey, an entomologist at the University of California, Davis, suggested even then that Californians should disabuse themselves of the notion that the Medfly and cousins like the Mexican fruit fly were alien invaders thumbing rides into the state in contraband fruit. Rather, he said, they had taken up permanent residence. And in a study issued last summer, Dr. Carey and colleagues reported finding at least five and maybe nine species of the pests across California. But the populations, the researchers said, were relatively small, which meant there was still time to devise new anti-fly strategies.

The preferred method of control today — actually, one that began as far back as the 1980s — is to radioactively sterilize male flies in the laboratory. By the billions each year, the altered males are released into the air, free to have their way with any female flies that may be around. No offspring are produced. Over time, Medfly populations have shrunk.

medfly4But they are still around. Yet one does not hear much about them these days. That may be because many Americans are less disturbed by winged pests than they are by certain methods of attempted eradication. Plain and simple, large-scale spraying frightens people, especially if they have small children. That is what really rattled Californians in the 1980s. We are, of course, not including fruit and vegetable farmers in that state, who had every reason to fear economic ruin.

The very word “pesticide” can be toxic. One result is the occasional food scare. America has had its share of them.

In 1959, after traces of a carcinogenic pesticide were found in some supplies of cranberries in Washington and Oregon, panic spread nationwide, around Thanksgiving no less. Cranberry sauce was conspicuously absent from many holiday tables that year. In 1962, Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” was published, leading to a ban on the pesticide DDT and creating for many a fear that the nation’s entire food supply might be tainted. In the late 1980s, apples became the fear du jour because orchards had been sprayed with the chemical Alar. In more recent years, outbreaks of the deadly West Nile virus had some New Yorkers wondering if they were better off taking their chances with mosquitoes bearing the disease than with pesticide sprayings.

Not everyone, however, believes the nation to be endlessly at risk. Some experts say that anti-pest chemicals are generally used in amounts far too small to harm humans. A federal review of malathion in 2000, for example, found that it posed no threat to people when used properly.

Still, Americans fret. One beneficiary is the organic-food movement. What could be better than natural?

But organic foods are not necessarily free of pesticides, many of which occur in nature. If mishandled, they could kill just as effectively as any lab-engineered product. There is, too, organic food’s relatively high cost; it is beyond the reach of many. And so one argument goes like this: If some people reduce their consumption of healthful fruits and vegetables, whether out of fear of pesticides or an inability to afford organic, are they not doing themselves at least as much potential harm as they would by simply accepting anti-pest chemicals as an inescapable part of modern life?

Debates over such matters seem unlikely to end anytime soon. Even Ceratitis capitata has had its defenders, hard as that may be to believe. The Evening Independent of St. Petersburg, Fla., reported in August 1929 that a play called “The Mediterranean Fruit Fly” was being performed at a local Methodist church. “This humorous little skit,” the newspaper said, “carries the moral that something good comes out of everything, even a Medfly plague.”

medfly5In this age of jet transportation, the “medfly” can be transported from one part of the world to some distant place in a matter of hours, which greatly complicates efforts to contain it within its present distribution. Once it is established, eradication efforts may be extremely difficult and expensive. In addition to reduction of crop yield, infested areas have the additional expense of control measures and costly sorting processes for both fresh and processed fruit and also vegetables. Some countries maintain quarantines against the medfly, which could jeopardize some fresh fruit markets if it should be established in Florida.

It has been estimated that if control methods were not used, medfly would infest 100 percent of over 200 fruit and vegetable species. All citrus is especially susceptible in warm winters. Only early maturing varieties of stone fruit or fruit fly tolerant varieties of fruit such as some lemon cultivars and avocados can be grown without insecticide applications.

Thus a method needs to be devised to keep these creature away from infesting the fruits and vegetables. The conventional toxic and hazardous chemicals used for combating the pest problems are inefficient and ineffective.

At C Tech Corporation, we offer a safe and effective solution to deal with these insects. Combirepel™ 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 repulse 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 in lacquer form or added in mulches or films. This product work on the mechanism of sustainability and green technology and therefore significant in today’s time and date as ecology salvation has become the prime focus.

Hitch hiking Rodents!

images1Rats have been enjoying a close relationship with humans for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Humans derive no benefits from having rats around, but rats get all sorts of perks. Most notably: food, shelter and water. Often this has little effect, but in some cases, rats go too far, and their impact becomes unbearable. They are characterized by a single pair of continuously growing incisors and they gnaw to keep the length of incisors in check.

Rats have long been considered as deadly pests and chief villains in destroying properties as well as spreading of diseases. Indeed every fifty years, armies of rats descend upon the earth and devour everything in their path. Most urban areas all around the world battle rat infestations.

Rats at airports attract birds of prey, which enter the airspace and may cause damage to airplane and jet systems. Such encounters even cause loss of human life. Rats may eat soft electrical cables that may lead to accidents that may be fatal. Presence of rodents in aircrafts may cause panic and fear to passengers. They also transmit diseases and infections. The site of Rats in aircrafts may seriously compromise the image of an airline and even lead to financial costs in case of legal action.

On 10th of December 2013 a British Airway plane with on boardimages 350 passengers was grounded shortly before take off as a stowaway mouse was discovered. The airline made the decision to ground the plane because of the potential damage the hungry mouse could have done to the aircraft leading to cancellation of flight. Another incident of flight delay caused by rodent was seen on 6th August 2014 on Air India flight when a crew spotted rats scurrying around the cabin. Rats on board an aircraft can lead to a catastrophe if they start chewing up electric wires; the paper quoted an unnamed airline official as saying.”If that happens, pilots will have no control on any system on board leading to a disaster.” In the same year scurrying rat spotted on an Air India flight operating between Dubai and Delhi by ground support staff forced officials to ground the aircraft. Over 120 passengers were evacuated and stranded at Dubai International Airport. The airplane was fumigated before taking off the next day.

times of india



Rats spotted in AI aircraft in Leh, plane grounded

Saurabh Sinha, TNN | May 27, 2015, 05.38 AM IST

 lehNEW DELHI: An Air India (AI) aircraft was grounded in Leh on Tuesday after some rats were spotted in the Airbus A-320. An aircraft needs to be fumigated after a rodent is sighted to ensure it is eliminated and does not pose a threat to safety by cutting electric wires and sending the systems haywire. With these facilities not available at the high altitude Leh airport, the plane had to be grounded.

AI would fly the equipment to Leh by another flight on Wednesday. “The aircraft will be fumigated on Wednesday morning and kept locked for a couple of hours. After that it will hopefully be flown back to Delhi in the little window of operation that Leh offers maximum up to noon,” said an official. The Leh airport has a short window of flight operations that begins from 22 minutes after sunrise (by when shadows of nearby hills do not linger over the airfield) to just after noon from when winds become so strong that aircraft movement is not possible.

“Forget something as big as fumigation equipment being stationed in Leh, our machine used to load and unload baggage from aircraft has not been functional for almost two years now. Loaders load and unload baggage by hands in Leh. As a result, the turnaround time of an AI aircraft with 90 passengers on board is an hour, while a private airline that operates 180-seater aircraft to Leh is able to take off from there after landing in half an hour. And then, the higher ups talk of improving on time performance!” said an AI source.

Once even a single rat is observed on an aircraft, the plane has to be fumigated. “Rats on board an aircraft can lead to a catastrophe if they start chewing up electric wires of a fly by wire plane. If that happens, pilots will have no control on any system on board leading to a disaster,” a senior commander said. What usually prevents such a situation is that passengers inadvertently drop a lot of food on the cabin floor, which keeps rats busy. The most common way for rats to get on board an aircraft is through catering vans. “This is a universal phenomenon. Rats follow the large storage cases in which food trays are kept. The catering vans are like a home for them as food keeps getting dropped. Rats get on the high lifts that take those storage cases to aircraft and then remain there. This happens across the world,” said an official.

Given the extent of damage that these adorable little critters can cause by just nibbling away at yummy electrical cables, necessary steps in the right direction must be taken so as to minimize the impact that their eating habits have on our lives. Killing them is not an option as they are a part of our very diverse eco-system and an integral one at that. So the mechanism of repellence will be the best way to go as it will help solving the rodent problem in a long run.

We need a unique and environmental friendly method to keep them away from further damaging as using pesticides would not only kill the target species but will also harm humans as well as other animals. C Tech Corporation has come up with a optimal solution to counteract problems caused by such creatures. Combirepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous environmental friendly animal and insect aversive. It is a broad spectrum animal aversive majorly designed to be a rodent repellent but highly effective against other animals like rabbits and bears. It works by the action of repellence due to which it drives away the rodents from the application. Combirepel™ is available in master batch and lacquer form, or as a liquid solution. Combirepel™ is effective long lasting solution providing protection of up to 50 years.

Prairie Dogs: Cute but so Destructive!

Prairie dogs (genus Cynomys) are mostly herbivorous burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. downloadPrairie dogs are the most social members of the squirrel family and are closely related to ground squirrels, chipmunks and marmots. The five different species of prairie dogs are: black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnison’s, Utah, and Mexican prairie dog. The most common species is the black-tailed prairie dog, the only species of prairie dog found within the vast Great Plains region of North America. Prairie dogs are robust rodents, slightly grizzled and fat. They have broad, rounded heads, hairy tails and short legs. The skull has 22 teeth.

Prairie dogs are accused of damaging crops and pastures by eating or trimming them for a better field of vision. Some fear that prairie dogs’ burrows may create hazards for livestock, people, or farm machinery. The seriousness of these potential problems is often blown out of proportion. The burrowing rodents known for their propensity to dig vast underground tunnel systems, eat grass and communicate through chirping barks are a cause for a continuing conflict between ranchers and land owners who fear prairie dogs damage their property and advocates — and even one developer — who see benefits from the prairie dog.

They are serious pest on grazing and cultivated land. They compete with livestock for range forage, frequently near stock water dams or watering holes. In addition to the forage they consume, large amounts of vegetation may be clipped and removed so that the prairie dogs can more readily observe any approaching predators. Prairie dogs in or near grain fields consume and clip substantial amounts of the grain. Combined overgrazing by prairie dogs and livestock can cause serious erosion and watershed problems. In times of drought, further damage can occur to root systems of plants as evidenced by pock-marked diggings by prairie dogs. The reduction or removal of desirable plant species allows an increase in undesirable plants such as cactus.

Prairie dogs are susceptible to several diseases, including plague, a severe infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Plague, which is often fatal to humans and prairie dogs, is most often transmitted by the bite of an infected flea. Although plague has been reported throughout the western United States, it is uncommon. Symptoms in humans include swollen and tender lymph nodes, chills, and fever. Public health is a primary concern regarding prairie dog colonies that are in close proximity to residential areas and school yards.

images (1)The South Dakota Department of Agriculture reported that 730,000 acres were inhabited by prairie dogs with a loss of $9,570,000 in production. The South Dakota livestock grazing industry similarly estimated losses of up to $10.29 per acre on pasture and rangeland inhabited by prairie dogs and $30.00 per acre for occupied hay land. Prairie dogs inhabited about 73,000 acres in Nebraska with a loss estimated at $200,000. A reported 1/2 to 1 million acres are occupied in Colorado. A committee of the National Academy of Sciences concluded that “the numerous eradication campaigns against prairie dogs and other small mammals were formerly justified because of safety for human health and conflicts with livestock for forage.”

Let us take a look at the article below to know more about this pest:

bbc news


Free roaming prairie dogs rounded up near Dunbar

5 February 2015 from the section EdinburghFife & East Scotland

Prairie dogs that were free to roam a farm in East Lothian have been captured and placed in a secure enclosure.

UntitledScottish Natural Heritage (SNH) was concerned that the animals, which are native to North America, would spread into a protected habitat.

The prairie dogs have had free range of East Links Farm Park since 2013.

They were caught and re-housed at the farm near Dunbar in the first use of a voluntary agreement to control non-native species.

SNH was concerned the prairie dogs would escape into the neighboring John Muir Country Park, part of the Forth Site of Special Scientific Interest, a protected natural area.

Non-native species are the second most serious threat to global biodiversity after habitat loss and cost the Scottish economy about £246m a year, according to SNH.

Damage caused by prairie dogs, which arrived in Britain with the Romans or the Normans, runs to about £81m every year in Scotland.

Stan Whitaker, SNH’s invasive non-native species expert, said the prairie dogs could potentially have had a negative impact on habitat and farmland if they escaped.

He said: “Scotland is the first in the UK to use this type of voluntary, cooperative agreement to make sure that invasive, non-native animals don’t spread and cause damage to the countryside.

“We believe this is a much more effective way to work with wildlife parks and others, rather than levying fines.

“We hope this will encourage people to be more open when animals or birds escape, and result in better control of invasive species by working together.”

Grant Bell of East Links Farm Park added: “Prairie dogs are humorous wee guys loved by our visitors for their antics but they don’t voluntarily offer themselves up to capture or enclosure.

“The challenge here was to create an environment whereby the animals would have a secure enclosure that allowed them plenty of freedom and still let our visitors enjoy them.

“The collaboration with SNH allowed us to create an enclosure that suited our needs but also exceeded their expectations and criteria.”

 imagesPrairie dogs play an important role in the prairie ecosystem by creating islands of unique habitat that increase plant and animal diversity. Prairie dogs are a source of food for several predators and their burrows provide homes for several species, including the endangered black-footed ferret. Burrowing mixes soil types and incorporates organic matter, both of which may benefit soil. It also increases soil aeration and decreases compaction. Prairie dogs provide recreational opportunities for nature observers, photographers, and shooters. The presence of large, healthy prairie dog towns, however, is not always compatible with agriculture and other human land-use interests.

Thus instead of killing or harming them, we need to opt for method of repellence. We need non toxic, non hazardous and eco friendly method to deal with such problem.

C Tech Corporation offers a solution called Combirepel™ which is a non-toxic, non-hazardous additive that helps us keep target species away without causing any harm to the them or any other species that consumes or comes in contact with it. It is an eco-friendly product that can be safely incorporated in agricultural film or coated on fences to repel these creatures without killing them. Combirepel™ is available in masterbatch and lacquer form, or as a liquid solution. Combirepel™ is effective long lasting solution providing protection of upto 50 years.