Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Posts tagged: pests

Busting Bugs: USDA Creates Online Tools to ID Pests

Do you work at a port or international border where identifying potentially destructive agricultural pests is part of your job? Are you a student or teacher interested in learning more about potential and existing agricultural pests? Have you ever seen a creepy crawly thing in your backyard and wondered if it might be an invasive species? If you fit any of these descriptions, then ID Tools may be just what you need.

Created by USDA-APHIS’ Identification Technology Program (ITP), ID Tools helps agency staff to quickly identify pests, including insects, diseases, harmful weeds, and more, through an efficient, online database system. ID Tools currently includes more than 30 websites covering a vast array of pests and pests associated with specific commodities. These tools help to keep international cargo—and economic activity—moving as efficiently as possible at U.S. ports of entry. However, ITP’s ID Tools web site, which receives about 12,000 visitors a month, is not for experts alone. Read more »

ARS Ag Research Counts!

To recognize the contribution that research in agriculture makes in our daily lives, we’re focusing this month’s Science Tuesday blogs on the successes that USDA science agencies have achieved for us all.

If you walk through your home, you’ll see USDA science everywhere. The research we do can be found in many products that you’ve probably never realized.  So, we’re highlighting some of our greatest research achievements because “Ag Research Counts” every day, for every American. In the upcoming days, we’ll feature a trivia contest on Facebook with fun facts from past ‘Science Tuesday’ blogs we’re featuring this month. You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #agresearchcounts. Here are this week’s blogs featuring ARS research that impacts each of us every day: Read more »

Bad Bed Bugs

The penny in this photo provides a sense of scale to the size of bed bug skins collected for analysis by ARS scientists in Beltsville, Maryland.

The penny in this photo provides a sense of scale to the size of bed bug skins collected for analysis by ARS scientists in Beltsville, Maryland.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.

Most likely you’ve heard the old saying about “sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite.” The “sleep tight” part relates to old-fashioned beds in which the bedding was suspended on cords pulled tight to provide a firmer sleeping surface, but you probably don’t need any extra explanation for “don’t let the bed bugs bite”! Read more »

Pest v. Pest: ARS Offers Method for Combating Whiteflies

ARS studies have shown that there are effective “greener” alternatives to conventional broad-spectrum pesticides for fighting sweet potato whiteflies on cotton plants.

ARS studies have shown that there are effective alternatives to conventional broad-spectrum pesticides for fighting sweet potato whiteflies on cotton plants.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Some Arizona growers rely on broad-spectrum insecticides to treat whiteflies, but scientists with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are studying the option of letting nature lend a hand in combating the costly pests. Read more »

Pests and Their Natural Enemies: Learn to Protect Your Garden!

Written by Kayla Harless, People’s Garden Intern

The People’s Garden workshops have yet to be anything less than an informative and fun time! Today, Don Weber, a research entomologist with USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, taught us about pests and their natural enemies.

Our instructor pointed out that most bugs are not harmful. In fact, even some viruses and fungi can be beneficial. Whether or not something is a pest is simply a matter of whether you want that item where it is.

Gardens in urban environments are subject to a lot of chance pest problems. A random outbreak or colonization of a pest can happen, and sometimes, because it happened in an urban location, there are no resources there to have this pest’s natural enemy. However, spotting these problems early on can significantly help. Build a healthy garden environment, by having flowering plants around your vegetables, rotate your crops, and use cover crops. It also was recommended to keep a close observation of your garden. You can even go out at night with a red light to observe bugs at work, the red light is out of a bug’s vision range and you will see lots of surprising action! This allows you to get to know bug life cycles, and spot early on any unwanted bugs. Hand picking out the first ones to arrive will discourage others from coming to your garden.

The instructor brought several examples of natural enemies that eat aphids, Colorado potato beetles, and other pesky garden annoyances. The common pink lady beetle eats many aphids, and spined soldier bugs are general predators as well. Stinkbugs are also good predators.

Most everyone has heard of Chia pets, but not all of us know that Chia is actually a great cover crop and attracts many pollinators. It makes a great weed suppressant, and is even high in omega-3 fatty acids. Don Weber, our instructor, is doing research on Chia, how it grows, and what it does. If you are interested in learning about or participating in growing your own Chia, follow this link.

Be sure to come out next week and join us for “Why Not Keep Honeybees?” taught by Dr. Jeff Pettis, right here in the People’s Garden!

Don Weber passed around some common pink lady beetles, while explaining to us their role in eating pesky aphids
Don Weber passed around some common pink lady beetles
while explaining to us their role in eating pesky aphids.