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Posts tagged: pests

Our Forests and Climate Change

Americans know the importance of forests to our communities and our economy.  They provide jobs and recreational opportunities, filter our air and water, and make up essential habitat for wildlife and natural resources.  But increasingly, we’re also recognizing that forests play an important role in mitigating climate change.

Recently, President Obama announced a Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare for the impacts of climate change on our communities and economy, and lead international efforts to combat global climate change. This plan recognizes that America’s forests play a critical role in addressing carbon pollution, absorbing as much as 14 percent of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions each year.  Over the last several decades, forest regrowth on former farm lands, reforestation, and maturing forests have kept our forest growth rates high, helping us absorb even more carbon. Read more »

A New World-Old World Problem and How Genetic “Fingerprints” May Help

ARS scientists and NIFA-funded researchers work to improve the tools and processes to develop better grapes and grapevines. Their discoveries will make it easier for grape breeders to identify vines that combine the most desirable traits.

ARS scientists and NIFA-funded researchers work to improve the tools and processes to develop better grapes and grapevines. Their discoveries will make it easier for grape breeders to identify vines that combine the most desirable traits.

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.

When it comes to grapes, there’s a New World-Old World dichotomy. Grapevines originating in the Americas (e.g. Vitis labrusca, Vitis riparia) can resist pests and diseases, but they generally don’t have the taste or aroma of grapes with European origins (Vitis vinifera).  But European grapes are more susceptible to pests and disease.

Grape breeders try to combine the best of both worlds, but here’s the problem: if you cross one grape with another, there is no guarantee your progeny will inherit the desirable traits. And because it takes so much time to grow a grapevine, produce grapes from those vines, and for those grapes to be evaluated, bringing a new grape to market can take 20 years or more. Scientists can speed things up by identifying genes that give grapes the right blend of the best characteristics. Identifying the genes will tell you the characteristics of the vine without having to wait for it to grow. Read more »

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 »