By the Numbers: Inside Washington’s Murder Hornet Nest

After the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) found and removed an Asian Giant Hornet nest late last month, there was still one major step left; opening and examining the nest.

Removal of the nest itself was complicated due to the fact that it was tucked inside a tree. Once WSDA entomologists had safely removed the hornets living in the nest, they also removed the tree itself before splitting it open to reveal the nest inside.

The nest was just over 8 feet high in the tree and, once opened, was found to be about 14 inches long and 9 inches wide. So far, over 500 Asian Giant Hornet specimens in various stages of development have been collected from the nest, and the counting is still ongoing! 

Here are the preliminary results of what WSDA entomologists found in the nest.

  • 6 combs – There were six layers of comb in the nest. Combs are the structures that hold the hornet larvae as they develop. Part of the interior of the tree had been chewed away to accommodate the combs.
  • 776* cells – The combs are made up of cells and each individual cell can hold a developing Asian giant hornet. *This number is approximate as there was some damage to the combs.
  • 6 unhatched eggs These eggs were all located in the last and smallest of the combs.
  • 190 total larvae - The larvae are whitish “grubs” in uncapped cells. Many had fallen out of the combs into the tree cavity during the nest removal.
  • 108 capped cells with pupae – Pupae are the next stage after larvae. Based on the size of the cells, most of the pupae found are believed to be pupae of new virgin queens.
  • 112 workers – This total includes 85 workers that were vacuumed out of the nest on Oct. 24. All of the workers survived being vacuumed out of the nest.
  • 9 drones – Drones are male hornets and they generally emerge from the nest before the new queens emerge.
  • 76 queens – Most likely all but one queen would be new virgin queens. New queens emerge from the nest, mate, and then leave to find a place to overwinter and start a new colony the next year.

Despite multiple applications of carbon dioxide, removal of the workers, and storage in a cold facility, most of the specimens were still alive when the nest was opened.

Nest reassembled in tree - image from WSDA blog

WSDA’s Future Plans

WSDA plans to continue trapping through at least Thanksgiving and possibly beyond, but will likely only track worker hornets. Even if no other hornets are found, WSDA will continue to trap for at least three more years to demonstrate the area is free from Asian giant hornets.

If you may have seen an Asian giant hornet in Washington State, report it with a photo if you can get one at:

If you believe you have seen an Asian giant hornet but live in another area, please report it to your state or province’s invasive species managers.

Source: WSDA website

Washington Pesticide Applicators:
Your License Renewal Deadline is DEC 31!

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Study Shows Many Pesticide Labels Don’t Follow EPA Guidelines

According to a study by the Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service, over 30% of pesticide labels fail to follow Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations and provide incorrect information about their toxicity to honey bees. The research, which was discovered by an unsuspecting young student, may be used by regulators to identify labels that need amending. 

"I kind of stumbled onto this research project by accident," said Matthew Bucy, now a pesticide registration specialist at the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

While working as an OSU undergraduate honors student, he read through hundreds of pesticide labels in order to update a data table. After studying 232 insecticide labels, Bucy discovered a clear pattern. About a third of the labels deviated from EPA recommendations, and many didn't list accurate details about their residual or acute toxicity.

Rose Kachadoorian, a pesticide specialist at the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), and formerly an adviser on Bucy's thesis committee, said the pesticides weren't misbranded or mislabeled intentionally; “they're just old.” “A lot of the language is what we call legacy language," said Kachadoorian.

Bucy's “accidental” discovery turned into a major research project that has continued well past his graduation. Kachadoorian, Bucy, and experts at the ODA formed a working group called The Oregon Bee Project to address the labeling problem. While they continue to hold workshops that try to educate pesticide applicators, they expect changing label language will take time.

Kachadoorian said her ultimate vision is to create a standardized labeling system for pesticides.

“Look at FDA pharmaceutical labels, she said, they all have similar formatting.”

“You know where to look on the label to find things like dosage and possible side effects. But pesticide labels look different across companies, making information harder to find.”

Bucy said his groundbreaking research as a student led to his job in pesticide work at ODA, where he hopes to continue helping the agricultural community.

"I read a few hundred labels. Why not read a few hundred — or thousand — more?" he said.


While you may never have to read hundreds of labels all at once, make sure you understand the ones you do need to read with our Reading the Pesticide Label: Beyond the Basics video course!

You’ll find that course, and many others, included in our Oregon Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education Bundles - register now before the December 31st deadline


You can read the entire unedited article here


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EPA Extends Approval of Dicamba-Based Products for 2021 Season & Beyond

Just last week, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided to approve new five-year registrations for two “over-the-top” (OTT) dicamba products—XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology and Engenia Herbicide—and extended the registration for an additional OTT dicamba product, Tavium Plus VaporGrip Technology. The extended registrations are only for use on dicamba-tolerant (DT) cotton and soybeans and will expire in 2025. 

The decision is not free from controversy, however.

Background

In a previous blog, we outlined the bumpy road dicamba has experienced over the past few years - culminating in June 2020 when the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked registrations for three major dicamba brands. The court’s decision was largely based on accounts of dicamba-based products drifting into nearby fields after application and destroying non-DT crops.

Despite the Circuit Court’s ruling, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler defended the decision."After reviewing substantial amounts of new information, conducting scientific assessments based on the best available science, and carefully considering input from stakeholders, we have reached a resolution that is good for our farmers and our environment,” Wheeler said.

Organizations like the American Farm Bureau, Georgia Cotton Commission, and weed scientists in the University of Georgia Extension praised the EPA’s decision mainly for “providing clarity” to farmers for the 2021 growing season and beyond. 

Dicamba critics see the decision differently, with The Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity, National Family Farm Coalition, and Pesticide Action Network North America planning to pursue a legal challenge.

What the Decision Means for Applicators

The EPA’s 2020 registration features important control measures to manage off-site movement of dicamba, including:

  • Requiring an approved pH-buffering agent (also called a Volatility Reduction Agent or VRA) be tank mixed with OTT dicamba products prior to all applications to control volatility.
  • Requiring a downwind buffer of 240 feet and 310 feet in areas where listed species are located.
  • Prohibiting OTT application of dicamba on soybeans after June 30 and cotton after July 30.
  • Simplifying the label and use directions so that growers can more easily determine when and how to properly apply dicamba.

The EPA claims these control measures provide new flexibilities for growers and also address the concerns expressed in regard to the June Court of Appeals ruling.

What are your thoughts on the new dicamba control measures? Let us know on social media!


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EPA Proposes Use of New Insecticide Active Ingredient

Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to register pesticide products containing a new active ingredient called tetraniliprole for sale and use in the US.

One of the “pesticide products” the EPA wants to register likely includes Bayer’s new and unnamed insecticide. According to Bayer, the tetraniliprole-based insecticide will be a 2-in-1 solution for both annual bluegrass weevil (ABW) and white grubs.

Bayer says that using tetraniliprole allows for season-long protection, immediate cessation of insect feeding following exposure, and consistent control of ABW and white grubs with just 1-2 applications per year. 

Although the use of tetraniliprole goes beyond just ABW and white grubs. According to the EPA, if approved, tetraniliprole will be the first registered diamide insecticide available in the US that controls corn rootworm larvae in corn through soil application, and flea beetles in corn and potatoes. It would also be the first diamide offering control of wireworms in potatoes and similar crops, and control of cutworms in tobacco via soil application.

Application Requirements

A study done by both the EPA and Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency determined that tetraniliprole had no human health risk concerns. 

Still, the EPA is proposing specific mitigations to address potential ecological risks, including:

  • A 50-foot spray buffer for aerial application
  • A 25-foot spray buffer for ground applications
  • Directions for use for treated seed to reduce exposure to treated seeds for large birds
  • A 25-foot vegetative filter strip to reduce runoff into surface water

If you have any thoughts or concerns regarding tetraniliprole, let the EPA know! They’re accepting public comments on this proposal via docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0233 at www.regulations.gov for 30 days, closing on Nov. 22, 2020.


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Fate of Dicamba-Based Products Awaiting EPA Decision

On October 1st, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler said to expect a decision by the end of the month regarding whether dicamba-based products can be used during the next planting season or not. The products in question include XtendiMax, Engenia, and FeXapan.

In June, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit blocked future use of the herbicide, arguing that the EPA ignored risks associated with the chemical drifting onto other properties and violated federal regulations when it extended licensing in October 2018 for two years. 

According to Bloomberg, the American Farm Bureau Association and other industry groups advocate for continued dicamba use, arguing that most crop farmers are already familiar with it and switching to other products could jeopardize yields. Others take issue with the chemical’s high volatility level, a key factor for its history of vaporizing into areas with soils that don’t have resistance to it, damaging other crops.

U.S. crop farmers are currently in the middle of harvest, which is when they start deciding which agricultural chemicals to bet on for next season. “The longer the EPA waits to make the decision, the more likely it is in my view that farmers switch anyway just due to the uncertainty,” Morningstar analyst Seth Goldstein said in an interview. “I think farmers would rather have the certainty of a product even if they haven’t used it before.”

Farmers unwilling to risk buying dicamba-based products on fears it’ll get banned could try alternatives including 2,4-D, the active ingredient in Corteva’s Enlist line of herbicides. Like dicamba, it’s often grouped with glufosinate -- a chemical that has become popular in recent decades because of its effectiveness against newer strains of weeds that developed with the rise of genetically modified seeds.

If the EPA rules against dicamba, Bayer announced they will compensate farmers who bought its dicamba products, including as much as $7 off each unit of some soybean seeds and $40 off each unit of certain cotton seeds resistant to the herbicide. Bayer is willing to make such provisions despite being “very confident” on future prospects of its dicamba-based XtendiMax, product manager Alex Zenteno said in an interview.

“We’re willing to put a program down to help growers get that confidence if they’re feeling uncertain or unsure, or considering other options,” she said.


What do you think of dicamba? Let us know on social media! And remember if you're licensed in one of the following states, your recertification deadline is December 31! Just click your state to view available continuing education course packages.

The entire contents of this article can be found on Bloomberg.


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Three Michigan Cities Among the Top 50 “Rattiest in America”

According to a recent report by Orkin, three Michigan cities are among the “Top 50 Rattiest Cities in the United States” this year. 

Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Flint made the list coming in at #6, #29, and #42 respectively. Orkin releases the annual list based on rodent treatments performed at residences and commercial properties from Sep 1, 2019 to Aug 31, 2020.

Surprising almost no one, COVID-19 was a major factor in this year’s increased rodent visibility. Restaurant closures forced them to find new food sources, according to the release. Without restaurant food waste, they were seen scavenging new areas and exhibiting unusual or aggressive behavior. The problem became so prevalent that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued Rodent Control guidance.

With colder weather approaching in Michigan, make sure you’re ready for the increased rodent activity by looking at our Michigan Vertebrate Pest Management 8-Credit Continuing Education Course Bundle.

This online video course bundle fulfills the category recertification requirement for Michigan Commercial Applicators holding a Vertebrate Pest Management (Category 7D) certification. 

To renew your license before the upcoming Dec 31 deadline, simply pair the Vertebrate bundle with the Michigan Commercial Core 8-Credit Bundle to complete all your recertification requirements.

Here’s a preview of the type of lessons you’ll take in the “Rodents and Other Vertebrate Pest Management” course found within the Vertebrate course bundle!

Lesson 1 – Rats

  • Rats and Disease Carriers
  • Habits of Rats
  • Life Cycle
  • Inspection

Lesson 2 – Rats (cont.)

  • Control and Management
  • Habitat Alteration – Outdoor
  • Habitat Alteration – Indoor
  • Traps
  • Glue Boards
  • Rodenticides
    • Food baits
    • Water baits
    • Tracking powders

Lesson 3 – House Mice

  • Mice as Disease Carriers
  • Life Cycle and Social Behavior
  • Physical Abilities
  • Inspection
  • Control and Management
    • Sanitation
    • Mouse-proofing
    • Population reduction
  • Food Baits and Placement
    • Liquid baits
    • Tracking powders

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New Jersey Pesticide Continuing Education Course Preview

New Jersey pesticide applicators whose certification expires on October 31st: completing your continuing education is now easier than ever with our new course bundles. Now, you simply need to choose one of three 8 unit Core Bundles, then follow that up by taking any 16 unit Category Bundles you may need.

If you still haven’t finished your continuing education, here’s a preview of what kind of on-demand video courses you’ll see in the 8 unit Core Bundle #1: 

  • Reading the Pesticide Label: Beyond the Basics – 4 credits
  • Environmental Fate and Transport of Pesticides – 2 credits
  • Personal Protective Equipment and Emergency Response – 2 credits

Here’s a look at what to expect when you take one of our video courses.


Course Preview

Reading the Pesticide Label: Beyond the Basics

Course Description

This course covers the various sections of pesticide labels as well as safety data sheets. All examples are taken from a variety of real labels, so you can be confident in your ability to understand all the safety information. 

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Discuss different types of pesticide registrations.
  • Identify where to find specific information on the pesticide label.
  • Identify pests and site usage according to the label, and recognize information on safety data sheets.

Environmental Fate and Transport of Pesticides

Course Description

It’s important to understand what happens to the pesticides you use after you finish the application process. This course reviews environmental factors that can affect how pesticides move and degrade in the environment.

After completing this course participants will be able to:

  • Describe the elements of the environment that can play a role in chemical processing, such as soil composition and moisture
  • Describe the role of microbes and the factors that change populations
  • Identify factors that affect pesticide drift
  • Explain ways pesticides can be decomposed
  • Identify the connections between pesticide properties and potential for groundwater contamination
  • Utilize application techniques that minimize environmental impact

Personal Protective Equipment and Emergency Response

Course Description

PPE (personal protective equipment) comprises the clothing and devices you wear to protect your body from contact with pesticides. Wearing PPE can reduce exposure (dermal, inhalation, ocular, or oral) and thereby lower the chances of pesticide injury, illness, or poisoning. This course covers ways to ensure that all pesticide applicators and handlers understand the protections and limitations of PPE. 

After completing this course participants will be able to:

  • Identify where on the label to find the minimum clothing and PPE required to handle a given pesticide product.
  • State the criteria to properly select skin, eye, and respiratory protection required by the pesticide label based upon your expected use and exposure.
  • Discuss how pesticide releases from spills and fires can endanger humans and the environment.
  • Explain how to execute an emergency response plan.

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Eastern Equine Encephalitis Cases in 2020 Outpacing 2019

According to a recent press release from the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, the number of confirmed Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) cases in Michigan have doubled in 2020 compared to this time last year. With EEE being one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S. that affects both animals and humans, state health officials are encouraging residents to take extra precautions in the coming months.

“We strongly urge Michiganders to take precautions against mosquito bites,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Mosquito-borne diseases can cause long-term health effects in people, even death. Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches. Severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis and even death can also occur.”

Even though Michigan is experiencing cooler temperatures, this should not cause residents to ease up on the precautions that they are taking. Typically, mosquito-borne illnesses like EEE continue to pose a risk to both animals and humans until about mid-October after there have been at least two hard frosts.

Michigan residents should protect themselves by:

  • Applying insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved products, to exposed skin or clothing and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Applying insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.
  • Maintaining window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Emptying water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused children’s pools, old tires, or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.
  • Using nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.

As a Michigan Pesticide Applicator, make sure you share this information with your clients when appropriate, and keep your practices up-to-date with the Michigan Mosquito Management 8 Credit CE course bundle.


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Bat Ticks Discovered in New Jersey for the First Time

In September, a tick species associated with bats that pose possible health risks to people, pets, and livestock was reported for the first time in New Jersey’s Mercer and Sussex counties according to a Rutgers State University study.

“Bat ticks (Carios kelleyi) belong to the family Argasidae, known as 'soft ticks' because their body looks leathery and soft,” said senior report author Dina M. Fonseca Fonseca, a professor at Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, “that is in contrast to the ‘hard ticks’ (family Ixodidae) that New Jerseyans are more familiar with.”

 

Picture of bat ticks

Bat ticks are known as "soft ticks" because their body looks leathery and soft, unlike "hard" deer ticks.

While the current public health risk remains unknown, “finding them on New Jersey bats was an unusual event that prompted bat specialists to contact us. Maybe these ticks are becoming more common,” said Fonseca. In other states, bat ticks have been found infected with microbes that are harmful to people, pets and livestock. There are also confirmed reports of this soft tick feeding on people after losing their bat hosts.

“If you remove bats from your belfry, attic or elsewhere indoors, ticks that fed on those bats may stay behind and come looking for a new source of blood,” said report co-author James L. Occi, a doctoral student at Rutgers. “The next steps are to collect more soft tick specimens and test them for disease-causing microbes.”

If you have any upcoming bat removal jobs, be sure to take extra precautions and check yourself or the surrounding area for these ticks.

And remember, the New Jersey license recertification deadline is October 31st! Click here to view all of our continuing education course bundles.


New Jersey Continuing Education Course Packages

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New Invasive Species Affecting Pennsylvania Soil

Last week, the Penn State Extension’s College of Agricultural Sciences announced the spotting of invasive jumping worms in Montour County. For anyone who relies on soil quality for their livelihood or hobby garden, a jumping worm (Amynthas spp., also known as Asian jumping worms, crazy worms, Alabama jumpers, and snake worms) infestation is their worst nightmare.

Jumping worms destroy soil quality by consuming large amounts of organic matter. When consumed, all plant nutrients in the worm castings are rendered unavailable for a long time, and the castings form a dry pellet. Once the soil’s organic matter is gone, it leads to a dry, coffee-ground-like consistency.

As of this writing, it is unknown how widespread the jumping worms are in Pennsylvania. According to the Penn State Extension, “the Montour County growers believe they have been on their farm for at least two years.” During this time, the growers noticed the jumping worms feeding on roots.

Differences between jumping worms and nightcrawlers

jumping worm found in pennsylvania

Adult jumping worms are about 5 or 6 inches long, with clitellum (the narrow band around their middle) that is flush around their entire body. The clitellum on nightcrawlers is slightly raised and does not go around their underside.

Dealing with jumping worms

If jumping worms are discovered on a property, the best known way to contain them is to make sure they cannot use soil to move from farm to farm. Soil can contain eggs even if adults are not present—cleaning soil from equipment and even shoes before moving to the next field can help keep them contained.

Currently, there are no insecticides labeled to control jumping worms. If found on a small scale, the worms can be collected, destroyed, and disposed of. Do not use them for fishing or in a compost bin. The Penn State Extension says they currently know “very little about this pest, but that will change. Keep your eyes and ears open for now.”

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Remember, as Pennsylvania Commercial Applicators and Public Certified Applicators, you must complete your continuing education by September 30th! View all our on-demand CE bundles below!


Pennsylvania Continuing Education Course Packages

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