ARS scientists are devising, evaluating and improving application technologies, including sprayers of all shapes and sizes—hand held, backpack, truck mounted and thermal foggers to come up with the best ways of protecting military personnel from disease-transmitting insects like mosquitoes and sand flies. Click the image for more information about it.
By Sandra Avant
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) have joined forces to create effective barriers and gear that help shield deployed soldiers from disease-causing insects.
Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology (CMAVE) in Gainesville, Fla., are evaluating insecticides, testing pesticide application equipment, and treating military tents, camouflage screening and sun awnings with long-lasting residual pesticides. The research is a component of a USDA-DOD initiative called the Deployed War-Fighter Protection Research Program. ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency.
Biting insects and arthropods can transmit pathogens that cause devastating diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis (spread by mosquitoes), or leishmaniasis (spread by sand flies infected with Leishmania parasites). Such illnesses are a particular problem for susceptible U.S. troops deployed to countries where these diseases are common.
Entomologist Seth Britch, who works in CMAVE’s Mosquito and Fly Research Unit and is also a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, found that camouflage netting treated with a specially formulated insecticide effectively reduces mosquito populations and provides long-lasting protection for military personnel. Desert-pattern netting material was sprayed, allowed to dry, packed and shipped to Tallil Air Force Base in Iraq, where it was stored for five months, tested and then shipped back to CMAVE for analysis. Almost 300 days after it had been treated, the material was still successful in controlling mosquitoes. Treated netting also provided protection against sand flies and filth flies.
In another experiment, scientists evaluated ultra-low-volume pesticide spray equipment, chemicals and application techniques in Kenya against sand flies. Britch, CMAVE center director Kenneth Linthicum, and collaborators from the Navy Entomology Center of Excellence at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida and the U.S. Army Medical Research Unit in Nairobi, Kenya, tested two pesticide sprayers and two pesticides to kill sand fly species comparable to those found in Iraq and Afghanistan. DOD equipment and one of the pesticides tested performed well against sand flies.
Linthicum, Britch and CMAVE entomologist Daniel Kline are also part of a team that evaluates repellents, treatment methods and spray equipment in locations like California’s Coachella Valley desert, which looks similar ecologically and environmentally to deserts in the Middle East. Researchers work to ensure that all application techniques and equipment are effective before being used by military personnel deployed to hot, arid environments.
Read more about this research in the November/December 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
Popular summer tourist destinations may ‘see’ the effects
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May 23, 2012
The hordes of bark beetles that have bored their way through more than six billion trees in the western United States and British Columbia since the 1990s do more than kill stately pine, spruce and other trees.
Results of a new study show that these pests can make trees release up to 20 times more of the organic substances that foster haze and air pollution in forested areas.
A paper reporting the findings appears today in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, published by the American Chemical Society.
Scientists Kara Huff Hartz of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Gannet Hallar of the Desert Research Institute’s Storm Peak Laboratory in Steamboat Springs, Colo., and colleagues say that western North America is experiencing a population explosion of mountain pine beetles, a type of bark beetle that damages and kills pines and other trees.
The beetles bore into the bark of pine trees to lay eggs.
Gases called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released from the bore holes, which act as defense mechanisms against the beetles.
VOCs, however, also contribute to the smog and haze that obscures views of natural landscapes in U.S. national parks and other natural areas where tourists flock in summer.
“These results highlight one of the many potential feedbacks due to aerosols, which continue to be the greatest challenge to improving predictive models for air quality, visibility and climate,” says Alex Pszenny, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funded the research.
To determine how beetle attacks affect the atmosphere, the researchers measured VOC levels in the air near healthy and infected pine trees.
They found that beetle-infested trees release up to 20 times more VOCs than healthy trees near the ground surface.
The predominant type of VOC released by trees was called ß-phellandrene.
The data suggest that the bark beetle epidemic in the western United States could have led to higher concentrations of organic compounds in the air, which may contribute to haze.
The haze, say the scientists, may in turn harm human health, reduce visibility and affect climate.
Other authors of the paper are Hardik Amin and Aaron Brown of Southern Illinois University Carbondale; P. Tyson Atkins of the Desert Research Institute; Rachel Russo of the University of New Hampshire; and Barkley Sive of Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.
National Science Foundation Press Release: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=124255&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click
Glacier lilies and broad-tailed hummingbirds out of sync
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May 30, 2012
The glacier lily as it’s called, is a tall, willowy plant that graces mountain meadows throughout western North America. It flowers early in spring, when the first bumblebees and hummingbirds appear.
The lily, a plant that grows best on subalpine slopes, is fast becoming a hothouse flower. In Earth’s warming temperatures, its first blooms appear some 17 days earlier than they did in the 1970s, scientists David Inouye and Amy McKinney of the University of Maryland and colleagues have found.
The problem, say the biologists, with the earlier timing of these first blooms is that the glacier lily is no longer synchronized with the arrival of broad-tailed hummingbirds, which depend on glacier lilies for nectar.
By the time the hummingbirds fly in, many of the flowers have withered away, their nectar-laden blooms going with them.
Broad-tailed hummingbirds migrate north from Central America every spring to high-mountain breeding sites in the western United States. The birds have only a short mountain summer to raise their young. Male hummingbirds scout for territories before the first flowers bloom.
But the time between the first hummingbird and the first bloom has collapsed by 13 days over the past four decades, say Inouye and McKinney. “In some years,” says McKinney, “the lilies have already bloomed by the time the first hummingbird lands.”
The biologists calculate that if current trends continue, in two decades the hummingbirds will miss the first flowers entirely.
The results are reported in a paper in the current issue of the journal Ecology. In addition to McKinney and Inouye, co-authors of the paper are Paul CaraDonna of the University of Arizona; Billy Barr of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Crested Butte, Colo.; David Bertelsen of the University of Arizona; and Nickolas Waser, affiliated with all three institutions.
“Northern species, such as the broad-tailed hummingbird, are most at risk of arriving at their breeding sites after their key food resources are no longer available, yet ecologists predict that species will move northward as climate warms,” says Saran Twombly, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.
“These conflicting pressures challenge society to ensure that species don’t soon find themselves without a suitable place to live.”
Broad-tailed hummingbirds that breed farther south have fewer challenges.
“In Arizona, for example,” says Inouye, “there’s no obvious narrowing of the timing between the first arriving males and the first blooms of, in this case, the nectar-containing Indian paintbrush.”
Higher latitudes may be more likely to get out of sync ecologically because global warming is happening fastest there.
As the snow continues to melt earlier in the spring, bringing earlier flowering, says Inouye, the mountains may come alive with glacier lilies long before hummingbirds can complete their journey north.
“Where have all the flowers gone?” then will be “where have all the hummingbirds gone?”
-National Science Foundation Press Release- http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=124345&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click