Banned Pesticide Harms Bald Eagles in Maryland

According to an article by the Baltimore Sun, 25 bald eagles have been poisoned in Maryland’s Delmarva Peninsula in the last 3 years, 7 alone since March 1st of this year.

The cause? A banned pesticide called carbofuran, which was previously sold in the U.S. under the trade name Furadan.

Carbofuran was first banned by the EPA in granular form in the early 90’s due to links to widespread bird deaths, and finally banned in any form in 2009 due to concerns that there was no safe tolerance levels for crops.

Lab testing has confirmed the eagles’ deaths by this banned chemical. Authorities believe that old stocks of carbofuran are being used to kill vertebrate farm pests, which then in turn poison the eagles and other birds who scavenge from the poisoned carrion. Maryland Natural Resources Police are hard pressed to say whether the eagle deaths were caused unwittingly or intentionally. However, federal pesticide laws entirely restrict the use of any unlicensed or banned pesticide, and such products must be disposed of properly immediately after such restrictions are put in place.

Whether the deaths were purposeful or not, killing our nation’s bird by any means results in paying a hefty price: penalties enforced by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act carry fines of up to $250,000 or two years in prison.

Authorities in Maryland are looking for anyone with information regarding the use of carbofuran to come forward – they have offered a $10,000 reward for information and the American Bird Conservancy has pledged to add $5,000 to the reward as well.

From the Baltimore Sun: “Anyone with information about the poisonings is asked to contact Maryland Wildlife Crime Stoppers by calling or texting 443-433-4112, emailing, or reporting violations using the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ free mobile app.”

Maryland: Preparing for Lanternfly Invasion

Agricultural extensions have never seen anything like the spotted lanternfly, a leaf-hopping pest that recently overran southeastern Pennsylvania — and is poised to invade Maryland for the first time this spring. The spotted lanternfly appears to have caused more damage in less time than any invasive insect to arrive in the mid-Atlantic region, and it is proliferating more rapidly than the researchers can handle. Experts say a recent population explosion north of the Mason-Dixon line means the bug is all but certain to appear in northeastern Maryland sometime this spring.

The invader has harmed important crops including grapes, fruit trees, hop plants and hardwoods in more than a dozen Pennsylvania counties. Rather than consuming leaves, bark or fruit, the lanternfly uses its specialized mouthparts to penetrate a plant’s exterior, then sucks out the sweet, life-giving sap within. For instance, the lanternfly robs grapes of so much sweetness that farmers can’t bring them to market. They also stick to houses, decks, railings, and patios in infested areas.

You can help homeowners and farmers identify an infestation.

Helping homeowners and farmers spot an infestation on their own is a great way to build a trusting relationship with potential clients for years to come. When a homeowner calls with questions about whether they are facing an infestation, it is important to be able to describe the warning signs in a way they can easily follow. Many homeowners and farmers can spot and identify the lanternfly because of its distinctive coloring. The bug is so distinctive that 98 percent of the people who report spotted lanternfly sightings have identified them correctly.

A few promising countermeasures have emerged, like the use of specific pesticides, but so far, they’re developing more slowly than the bug is proliferating. Experts say there’s a chance they’ll find a way to eliminate the spotted lanternfly, but until then, their best hope is to try to slow its spread.

If you observe any egg masses or insects which look similar to this, please try to collect them, and inform the Maryland Department of Agriculture at (410) 841-5920 or sends e-mail)  as soon as possible (please attach photos if sending an email). 

Maryland Pesticide Professional Continuing Education

Online state-approved video continuing education courses are available 24/7.


Maryland’s Corn Earworm

The corn earworm is incredibly detrimental to corn and soy plants across the country, in fact, it is considered the most costly crop pest in North America. The worms eat corn all summer and shift to soybeans in the winter where they lay their eggs. 

The Pest
Young earworms live on the fruit of a plant and feed with other larvae. However, as they age they become territorial and cannibalize other larvae. Once the larvae mature they drop to the ground, burrow into the soil, and pupate. This process takes about 13 days and occurs during the summer. The adult is a moth in varied color. While they only live for 5 to 15 days they lay between 500 to 3000 eggs.

Corn earworms damage a wide variety of plants from the obvious corn to asparagus, artichokes, cabbage, cantaloupes, cucumbers, potatoes, watermelon and more. Earworm larvae feed on the fruit of most plants, making it impossible for the plant to reproduce. Larvae also feed on new growth and burrow into fruit. To make matters worse, larvae often burrow into a fruit, eat briefly, and then burrow into another fruit until the entire crop is damaged.

Earworms are often treated with insecticides, especially in corn fields where more than 5% of the plants are bearing new silk. However, because this pest is often treated with insecticides, many corn earworms have become resistant to a variety of insecticides. Another method of controlling earworms is trap cropping. Farmers using this method plant enticing crops around the crop they wish to protect. This encourages earworms and adult moths to feed on the "trap crops" rather than the profit crops.